State of Illinois

Illinois lawmakers are losing a century-old political perquisite -- the ability to award college scholarships. Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation this morning to end the practice after one last round of awards this summer.

"Instead of scholarships going to those who truly deserve them and who were qualified for scholarships to go to college,” the governor said, “too often the program was abused in a political way."

New office will be 15 miles south near I-39

State officials have confirmed that the Rockford west-side driver services facility will close once the lease expires July 29, and a new facility will open in September more than 15 miles away at 4752 Baxter Road along I-39 near the southern Winnebago County line.

Beth Kaufman, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Secretary of State’s office, said negotiations with the landlord over maintenance and repairs fell through.

Five retired state employees are suing over a new law that allows Illinois to begin charging some state retirees for health insurance.

The plaintiffs are members of the State Employees Retirement System who all put in at least 20 years of state service. Such retirees had been entitled to premium-free state health insurance, but Gov. Pat Quinn signed a law last month that does away with that benefit.

Thomas Boken Jr. of DeKalb will be on the general election ballot as a Democratic candidate for the 90th House District seat being vacated by state Rep. Jerry Mitchell, R-Sterling, who is retiring after serving for 18 years.

The State Officers Electoral Board on Monday rejected an objection to Boken’s candidacy filed by Lee County Republican Party Chairman Greg Witzleb had objected to 178 signatures on Boken’s petitions.

Illinois State Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Northbrook, doesn’t expect lawmakers to act on pension reform until after the Nov. 6 general election, though Gov. Pat Quinn said they should be ready to return to Springfield this summer to work on the contentious issue.

A member of the governor’s pension reform committee, Nekritz told the Daily Herald editorial board “it’s not ideal” to delay the issue until after the election.

A former Illinois judge is taking legal action to prevent state retirees from having to pay more for their health insurance. Governor Pat Quinn recently signed the measure into law. It aims to reduce the cost of providing coverage to retired state workers.

State of Illinois

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is rejecting calls to reduce the asking price for a state prison the federal government wants to buy. He’s also rejecting the idea that Illinois should not try to sell the federal government two prisons at once.

Thomson Correctional Center, in northwest Illinois, has barely been used in the decade since it was built. Illinois and the federal government agreed to a price of $165 million -- significantly less than the $220 million dollars at which that facility has been appraised.

And Quinn plans to close the super-maximum security prison at Tamms, in southern Illinois, as a cost-saving move. It's one of the newest state prisons and, once it's empty, Quinn hopes the federal government will be interested in buying it as well as Thomson.

Legal Helpers Debt Resolution LLC will provide $2.1 million in restitution for Illinois residents who paid for debt settlement services but failed to receive meaningful debt reduction under a settlement with Illinois Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan and the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.

The Chicago-based law firm, which operates nationwide, allegedly charged consumers upfront fees to provide debt settlement services with promises to make them debt free.

state of Illinois

The Illinois Supreme Court has ruled in a DUI case that there is no specific required driving deviation to justify police making a traffic stop.

In 2008, Dennis Hackett was driving through Joliet when a sheriff's deputy pulled him over. The deputy said he saw Hackett's car cross a lane divider twice, so he stopped the car and charged Hackett with drunken driving.

Developers of an Asian carp-processing plant in the Mississippi River town of Grafton are getting $1.9 million in help from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity for the project.

That includes a $1.4 million low-interest loan to American Heartland Fish Products, with the remaining money for infrastructure improvements related to the plant.

Grafton, with about 700 residents, is located about 40 miles northeast of St. Louis.