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state of Illinois

The search for a new state Auditor General has begun in earnest. 

The Auditor General serves as Illinois governments' top internal investigator. It's a job that Bill Holland has held for more than two decades.

But last month, he announced he's stepping down.

A bipartisan legislative commission says it's accepting applications for his replacement. At his retirement announcement, Holland gave his view of the desired skills set:

durbin.senate.gov

The question of whether members of the military should be allowed to arm themselves is getting more attention after last week’s shooting death of five service members in Chattanooga, Tennessee. 

The Chairmen of the House and Senate Armed Services committees say they are already working on legislation to clarify when a post commander may allow service members to be armed while on U.S. soil.

Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin believes members of the military should be allowed to protect themselves when they are functioning in uniform, and in an official capacity.

St. Louis Public Radio

The U.S. Senate reached a tentative agreement for a multi-year highway funding bill. The plan includes a provision to impose user fees on electric vehicles.

Greater fuel efficiency, more hybrids and a growing number of electric vehicles mean the federal motor fuel tax does not go as far as it once did. 

Missouri Republican Senator Roy Blunt says the new proposal addresses that yearly short fall and guarantees funding for the first half of the six year plan.

Michael Madigan / Rod Blagojevich
WBEZ / WTTW

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan is feuding over the state budget with Gov. Bruce Rauner now. But eight years ago, the summer stalemate was with the now-imprisoned, then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

An appeals court tossed some of Blagojevich's corruption convictions yesterday. Madigan says he hasn't read the whole opinion; just the final paragraph.

"It seems to say that Mr. Blagojevich will remain as a guest of the United States government, rather than coming back to Illinois," Madigan said.

Brian Mackey / Illinois Public Radio

Accusations continue to swirl at the statehouse over who is at fault for the budget impasse. Gov. Bruce Rauner says House Speaker Madigan is the problem. 

Rauner, a Republican, accuses Madigan of wanting a government shutdown.

"I think the Speaker wants pressure, wants an impact now, before he'll do the right thing,” Rauner said. “He knows what should happen. Many members of his caucus know we should compromise and work this out. But they want an impact, they want people hit by these lack of a budget before they'll take action."

Flickr user Daniel Borman / "Money, Money, Money" (CC BY 2.0)

Illinois' $36 billion budget remains in limbo. Meanwhile, the state's top political leaders have been focusing on a much smaller number -- roughly $250,000 in spending.

That's how much Illinois is set to spend this year paying legislators a raise.

Republicans and Democrats both say the focus over pay is a distraction, while at the same time denouncing each other for enabling excessive salaries.

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has consistently used his bully pulpit to try to pin Illinois' problems on the Democratic Speaker of the Illinois House. 

Illinois Tollway

The U.S. Senate is set to take up legislation this week to keep federal highway dollars flowing to Illinois and other states beyond the end of the month.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx says two big factors are contributing to the continuing decline of the Interstate Highway system.

First, he says, the federal motor fuel tax has not been increased in more than 22 years.

“The fuel efficiency of vehicles has created a situation where you still have people driving, but the revenue position of the highway trust fund is getting worse and worse,” Foxx said.

WUIS

Gov. Bruce Rauner wants the legislature's help in making two big changes to the state's constitution, but the Illinois House Speaker isn't on board. It's one of various causes of gridlock at the state capitol.

As a candidate last year, Rauner talked a lot about term limits. Now that he's governor, he's pushing for lawmakers to sign on. The governor often repeats his goal of removing power from what he calls the "political class" -- in particular from House Speaker Michael Madigan.

www.randyhultgren.com

Illinois 14th District Congressman Randy Hultgren is co-sponsoring a bill to prevent the federal government from discriminating against individuals and groups with religious objections to same-sex marriage. 

The Republican says the First Amendment Defense Act is needed because of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling legalizing same-sex marriage.  Hultgren is concerned that those who believe marriage should only be between a man and a woman might themselves become victims of discrimination.  

Ban On Powdered Alcohol, Caffeine Signed By Illinois Governor

Jul 17, 2015
YouTube

Gov. Bruce Rauner signed into law a ban on powdered alcohol, and restrictions on caffeine in powdered form. Powdered alcohol mixes with liquids to create a beverage like any alcoholic drink. 

Senator Ira Silverstein is a Chicago Democrat who sponsored the legislation. He says he was worried it could be used to drug someone or sprinkled surreptitiously on someone's food.

Makers of powdered alcohol argue it has the same alcoholic content and is regulated the same way as the liquid product.

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