Illinois

Flickr user Pictures of Money / "Money" (CC BY 2.0)

Illinois workers get an added bonus once they retire -- they don't have to pay taxes on pension or Social Security checks.

It's one possible change the state could consider as it hunts for more money.

Illinois is a rare state that taxes income on a regular paycheck but not on retirement.

Fiscal experts -- like the non-partisan Civic Federation -- say that, as Illinois' population ages and there are more retirees and pensioners, the government will increasingly lose out on a source of revenue.

The Northern Illinois University Board of Trustees unanimously voted to rescind Dennis Hastert's honorary degree from the school. The Board met Thursday afternoon to discuss the matter during a special meeting.

    

Hastert received an honorary law doctoral degree in 1999. Earlier this month, the university announced a move by a committee to revoke the award. 

The committee said in a memo to President Doug Baker that Hastert’s recent felony conviction and sexual abuse testimony “do not reflect the values of the institution.”

Illinois Democrats have approved a measure to fully fund tuition grants for low-income students despite Republican concerns the state can't pay for its promises.

The Senate approved the measure Thursday on a 39-15 vote. The bill goes to Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner next.

The measure sponsored by Democratic leaders House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton would appropriate about $397 million to colleges and universities for tuition grants under the Monetary Assistance Program.

The plan doesn't include funding for colleges' operational costs.

The Illinois Senate has approved a measure allowing automatic voter registration in Illinois.

The chamber advanced the proposal 42-16 on Thursday.

Backers say they looked at similar laws in states like Oregon when crafting the Illinois proposal. It gives election officials data from five state agencies to automatically register eligible voters unless they opt out.

Proponents include voting rights advocates who say it'd improve access and update voter files before November.

"Dennis Hastert 109th pictorial photo" by United States Congress

Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert has been ordered to report to prison by June 22 to begin serving a 15-month sentence in his hush-money case.

    

U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Durkin entered an order Thursday that says Hastert must surrender "to the designated institution" by 2 p.m. that day. The order doesn't identify the prison.

A Bureau of Prisons spokesman said that information won't be released until Hastert reports.

Hastert pleaded guilty to violating banking laws while seeking to pay $3.5 million to someone he sexually molested.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Wisconsin recently had a large increase in the number of deer ticks throughout the state. But what does that mean for Illinois? 

Deer ticks are the ticks that could carry Lyme disease, and the peak time for reported cases of the disease is usually in June and July. The University of Wisconsin Arboretum saw the number of immature deer ticks increase by more than 1,000 percent from 2014 to 2015, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.

"Cigarette" By Flickr User Conan / (CC BY 2.0)

Legislation raising the age to buy cigarettes seemed to have been extinguished in the Illinois Senate last week. But it suddenly caught fire again as the Senate approved it today.

The measure's sponsor - John Mulroe of Chicago - says this time he found support from people who had been unsure about the measure or who weren't there to vote when it failed to pass earlier this month. 

The legislation would move the legal age to buy cigarettes and e-cigarettes from eighteen years old to twenty-one. 

Illinois is poised to decriminalize people caught with small amounts of marijuana.  The Illinois House approved legislation Wednesday.

As it stands now, Rep. Kelly Cassidy says Illinois has a patchwork. Each city handles pot possession differently.

"That permit some people to get tickets for very low level possession, some people to get arrested," Cassidy said.

Cassidy, a Chicago Democrat, says her legislation will create a threshold "…under which arrest is not an option. Tickets would be the way to go."

tammyduckworth.com

A judge in southern Illinois has set an Aug. 15 trial date in a workplace retaliation lawsuit filed against U.S. Senate candidate Tammy Duckworth.

The Democratic congresswoman is challenging Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk in one of November's most competitive Senate races.

Two employees of a home for veterans say Duckworth violated state ethics laws by taking action against them when she was head of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs.

Duckworth's supporters call the case a politically motivated nuisance lawsuit.

Flickr/Boroda

Lawmakers scrambling to find money to fix Illinois' multi-billion dollar deficit are looking to sugary drinks as one potential source of revenue.

 Taxing distributors of sodas and other sugary beverages was among the revenue-generating ideas a group of lawmakers proposed to Gov. Bruce Rauner and other leaders last week.

They're trying to finally end an epic budget impasse.

Pages