Illinois

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All Illinois residents -- no matter how rich, no matter how poor -- pay the same income tax rate. Now a plan is afoot to change that with a constitutional amendment, where the wealthy would pay more.

A pair of Democratic legislators are trying to likewise move Illinois from a flat to a graduated income tax.

Rep. Lou Lang of Skokie says those who are well off need to do more to help the state.

Under his four-tiered plan, anyone making more than a million dollars would pay 9.75 percent, which is more than double today's rate of 3.75 percent.

CREDIT "COURTROOM ONE GAVEL" BY FLICKR USER BETH CORTEZ-NEAVEL / (CC BY 2.0)

Illinois State Senator Patricia Van Pelt is sponsoring legislation to expand protections for teenagers accused of murder.

She says they can't make the legal decisions required to waive legal rights. 

State law mandates lawyers be present when police officers aggressively question teenagers aged 12 and under who are accused of murder or sex crimes. 

But youth between 13-and-17 years old can waive their right to a lawyer during interrogations.

WUIS

Members of the Illinois House Friday voted 65 to 37 to set a floor for the number of state employees providing health care in state prisons.  

Representative Greg Harris -- a Chicago Democrat -- says Illinois can't afford to reduce what is already inadequate health care.

"There have been numerous lawsuits and some class action cases regarding both physical and behavioral health for the Dept. of Corrections," Harris said.

The state prison system is opposed.

Illinois contracts with a private company – Wexford -- to provide health care to prisoners.

The widow of a suburban Chicago police officer who authorities say staged his suicide to make it appear he was killed on duty has applied for her late husband's pension as she awaits trial on conspiracy charges.

Melodie Gliniewicz's husband, Fox Lake police Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz, died Sept. 1.

Authorities say he staged his suicide because he feared discovery of his embezzlement of a youth program.

Her attorney, Brian Smith, says she is entitled to the pension and that criminal charges to which she has pleaded not guilty to should have no bearing.

flickr user / Michael Coghlan "Prison Bars" (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The sheriff who oversees one of the nation's most crowded jails has voluntarily released video showing half a dozen incidents of excessive force by deputies at the Cook County Jail in Chicago.

The videos show violent encounters between jailers and inmates. In one, three officers drag an inmate with blood spattered on his shirt through hallways to a cell.

Another shows an officer throwing a punch during a take-down of an inmate.

Thirteen officers were disciplined over the incidents.

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

The judge in Dennis Hastert's hush-money case says that if the former House speaker wants letters of support considered during his sentencing, they must be made public.

Hastert is to be sentenced April 27 after pleading guilty last year to breaking federal banking laws.

Prosecutors say he paid to conceal sex abuse when he was a high-school wrestling coach.

U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Durkin said in a Thursday filing that the court won't consider 60 letters "unless they are publicly filed."

The letters were attached to a previous, sealed filing.

Tony Arnold/WBEZ

With no state budget, a program that provided funding to bus Chicago kids to visit their incarcerated mothers stalled months ago.

 

To Pearl Mullen, who’s taking care of her grandchildren while her daughter is in prison, it’s meant her grandkids haven’t seen their mother in four months. Tony Arnold has been keeping in touch with Mullen over the last few months, and found out there’s a new bus program starting up. 

Illinois' community colleges have been struggling to make ends meet without a state budget for nearly a year. For some, the cutbacks they've had to make could mean the loss of federal dollars, too.

      

Community colleges use a combination of federal and state funds to provide adult education classes that help people pass the GED.

Normally, the state provides 32 million dollars, and the federal government kicks in about 23 million dollars — but that’s based on the state’s ability to prove its programs work. 

Wikipedia

Federal prosecutors claim social media posts undermine the reason former U.S. Rep. Mel Reynolds cited for traveling to South Africa in violation of his bond.

Reynolds was arrested for violating the terms of his bond Monday when he arrived at the Atlanta airport after a flight from South Africa.

His lawyer tells the Chicago Tribune that he's scheduled to appear in court Thursday afternoon.

During a brief hearing Wednesday, prosecutors said Reynolds' 23-year-old daughter posted updates from Berlin in February, when he was supposed to be taking care of her in Africa.

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A person accusing Dennis Hastert of sex abuse is expected to testify at Hastert's sentencing in two weeks. The judge said he wants to consider if Hastert lied to the FBI when he said a person he was paying money to was extorting him.

Prosecutors say Hastert was paying the money to ensure that an individual stayed silent about being abused decades ago. He pleaded guilty to breaking banking law.

Hastert's lawyers are questioning whether what the former U.S. House speaker did to a former wrestler to whom he agreed to pay $3.5 million was actually sexual abuse.

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