Government

Government and Legislature

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Congress has easily passed a $1.1 trillion bill easing the harshest effects of last year's automatic spending cuts after tea party critics chastened by the government shutdown in October mounted only a faint protest.  The sweeping 72-26 Senate vote to fund the government through September sends the bill to the White House for President Barack Obama's signature before a midnight Saturday deadline.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

The state of Illinois has taken another step toward regulating who may get a concealed-carry permit. The Department of Human Services has created an on-line database for mental health professionals to report people who pose a “clear and present danger” to themselves or others.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

The following is an essay by Rockford City Manager Jim Ryan, delivered at the ceremony at City Hall for the Morgan Street Bridge ribbon-cutting, December 17th, 2013. Thank you to Jim Ryan for permission to publish his remarks.   

Moving Forward On The Illiana Tollway

Dec 12, 2013
illianacorridor.org

The Chicago area could be getting another highway in a few years. A Northwest Indiana planning board voted overwhelmingly to move forward on the Illiana Tollway. 

@GovernorQuinn, Twitter

Governor Pat Quinn took many pens in hand this afternoon and signed the same-sex marriage bill into law. The signing ceremony was held at the University of Illinois - Chicago Forum, on a desk brought up from Springfield. That desk is said to have been used by President Abraham Lincoln to write his first inaugural address. 

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Bad news for former Dixon Comptroller Rita Crundwell today: a federal appeals court upheld her nearly 20-year prison sentence.

Win McNamee/Getty Images

Bringing to an end an episode that once again exposed Washington gridlock at its worst, the House approved a Senate deal that will end a 16-day federal government shutdown and avert the first government default in U.S. history.

The 285-144 vote came at the eleventh hour, after weeks of partisan bickering and a very public airing of deep divisions within the Republican party. The bill now heads to the White House, where President Obama said he will sign it "immediately."

Jonathan Ernst/Reuters/Landov

 

(This post was last updated at 8:54 p.m. ET)

With a little more than a day to go before the nation potentially defaults on its debts, there's still no solid plan on the table in Washington.

There was a flurry of activity on Tuesday, but it produced little significant movement.

The House tried twice to craft a proposal to end the shutdown and extend the debt ceiling, only to pull them back because they didn't have enough votes within the GOP to pass them. Now, the Senate has restarted talks of its own.

Jonathan Ernst/Reuters/Landov

(This post updated at 1:45 p.m. EDT)

With just two days to go before the nation potentially defaults on its debts, the push to reach a deal took on new urgency on Capitol Hill. There was a flurry of activity Tuesday — a potential deal eagerly awaited by the White House seemed to be coalescing in the Senate, and House Republicans skeptical of a potential Senate plan were struggling to come up with a proposal of their own.

Bottom line is that so far, there is no firm deal in either chamber. Here's where things stand:

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

About 200 people showed up for a town hall meeting in Dixon last night to hear more about the financial state of their city…and offer suggestions on how to spend nearly 40-million dollars.


Susan Stephens / WNIJ

The city of Dixon has an unusual problem: how to spend $40 million. Citizens get their say tonight.

Karen Bleier /AFP/Getty Images

Speaker of the House John Boehner, a Republican from Ohio, stepped out of the White House this evening after a 90-minute meeting with President Obama and reported no progress.

"They will not negotiate," Boehner said. "All we are asking for here is a discussion and fairness for the American people on Obamacare."

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

A judge today threw out a challenge to a lawsuit filed by supporters of same-sex marriage. 25 same-sex couples are suing the state because they were denied marriage licenses.  They’re challenging the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.  

The Senate has voted to approve a "continuing resolution" to keep the federal government functioning past a Monday night deadline, but it first voted to strip out a provision that would have defunded Obamacare.

The bill is certain to meet a roadblock in the GOP-dominated House, where key members have vowed to reinstate language aimed at derailing the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Dixon City Council approved a $40-million settlement with auditors and Fifth Third Bank at a special meeting today. The out-of-court settlement was reached on Friday with the companies the city blames for allowing former comptroller Rita Crundwell to embezzle $54-million over twenty years. 


Susan Stephens / WNIJ

There are now 54 concealed carry instructors approved by the Illinois State Police. Anyone who wants to apply for a permit to carry a concealed weapon has to put in sixteen hours in the classroom and shooting range with an official instructor.                 


City of Rockford

Rockford will give nearly $300,000 in stimulus money back to the federal government. Investigations by the city and the Office of the Inspector General found that Rockford’s Human Services Department improperly used Community Block Grant funds in 2009 and 2010. 

Victor Yehling / WNIJ

Illinoisans continue to struggle along in the state with the “worst in the nation“ public pension system.    Now, the cries for reform are louder than ever as the deficit continues to snowball.

handout / Getty Images

A military jury has returned a guilty verdict against Maj. Nidal Hasan, the U.S. Army psychiatrist accused in the 2009 mass shooting at Fort Hood, has been convicted on all counts.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Drivers will be able to legally go five miles an hour faster on most Illinois highways, beginning in January.  Governor Pat Quinn has signed a new law increasing the speed limit to 70 miles an hour. 

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Victims of violent crime in Illinois can get up to $27,000 to help them deal with the aftermath. But few know they’re eligible for assistance under the Illinois Crime Victims Compensation Act.

O'Dea / WikiCommons

  Illinois doctors can start prescribing marijuana next year. Governor Pat Quinn signed a medical marijuana bill into law today, making the state the 20th in the nation to do so.

Jacquilyn Stephens / WNIJ

DeKalb County’s Clerk and Recorder is resigning. John Acardo announced Wednesday he has taken a new job, as Kishwaukee College’s human resources director. 

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

The latest ruling by a federal judge on same-sex marriage is giving a boost to supporters in Illinois. A spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois calls a recent decision allowing an Ohio couple’s same-sex marriage to stand “incredibly humane.” 

Illinois gun-rights advocates will appeal a federal judge’s ruling that prevents them from immediately carrying concealed weapons in public.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Expect the state to be nine billion dollars behind in paying its bills by the end of the year. That was the grim message State Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka had for a gathering of not-for-profit agencies Monday at Rockford University. She’s enlisting their help to find ways to ease the financial pressure on groups that depend on state money to serve their clients. 

Young women in Illinois will need to notify their parents before getting an abortion. The state’s parental notification law was upheld today by the Illinois Supreme Court.

WNIJ

Concealed carry is now law in Illinois. State lawmakers today overrode Governor Pat Quinn’s proposed changes to gun legislation, just meeting a federal appeals court’s deadline to legalize concealed carry.

High Court Sends Texas Affirmative Action Case Back

Jun 24, 2013
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

One of the Supreme Court's most anticipated cases of its current term — a challenge to the University of Texas affirmative action admissions process — has ended with a ruling that does not revisit the fundamental issue of whether such programs discriminate against whites.

In a 7-1 ruling, the high court "vacated and remanded" an earlier decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which had upheld the university's program. (Justice Elena Kagan recused herself because when she was a lawyer at the Justice Department she had been involved in the case.)

Progress On Cooperation Is Slow

Jun 20, 2013

Last month, elected officials from Rockford and Winnebago County gathered in hopes of improving cooperation between the city and the county. The sense of urgency from the meeting has dwindled with little action taken since.

“We have one community to serve together, and we need to continue to have dialogue,” Ald. Frank Beach, chair of the City Council Republican caucus, said.

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