House of Worship Protection Act
7:11 pm
Tue May 29, 2012

Bill sent to Gov. Nixon would criminalize disturbance of worship services in Mo.

A house of worship in Jefferson City, Mo.
(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

Among the 115 bills sent to Governor Jay Nixon (D) this year is one that would make it a crime to deliberately disturb worship services in Missouri.

The measure would make it a misdemeanor to use, “profane discourse, rude or indecent behavior,” or make loud disruptive noises within or just outside a public or private building where a worship service is being held.  It was sponsored by Senate President Pro-tem Rob Mayer (R, Dexter).

“It’s important for citizens here in Missouri to have their First Amendment rights protected," Mayer said.  "There (have) been instances across the country where there have been actual disturbances in churches and synagogues.”

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Homeless Camps
5:50 pm
Tue May 29, 2012

Rice asks aldermen to support tent community for homeless

Rev. Larry Rice
Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio

Rev. Larry Rice is taking a new approach in his crusade to shelter homeless persons in St. Louis.

Rice was arrested two weeks ago for trying to set up a homeless camp on private land. Now, he’s asking city aldermen to directly support a tent community by providing one acre of land owned by the city’s Land Reutilization Authority.

“We have tent cities that are illegal here in this city right now," he said. "Let’s have a legal tent city for the sake of homelessness. The homeless should not be criminalized. These people just want a home.”

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Illinois Health Care
4:54 pm
Tue May 29, 2012

Illinois bill would require free care for low-income patients at hospitals

(via Flickr/rosmary)

Illinois hospitals would be required to provide free care to some low-income people under a bill passed by the Legislature and headed to the governor's desk.

Urban hospitals would have to provide free treatment to patients with incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines.

That's about $46,000 for a family of four.

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Roxana, Illinois - Pollution
3:34 pm
Tue May 29, 2012

Third lawsuit filed over groundwater pollution in Roxana, Ill.

A view of the Wood River Oil Refinery in Roxana, Ill.
(Art Chimes)

Updated at 6:20 p.m. with comments from Phillips66 and Shell Oil.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is the latest filer of a lawsuit regarding groundwater pollution from the Wood River Refinery in Roxana, Ill.

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Harassment Law
2:44 pm
Tue May 29, 2012

Mo. court strikes down part of 2008 harassment law

The Missouri Supreme Court building in Jefferson City, Mo.
(via Flickr/david_shane)

The Missouri Supreme Court has struck down part of a state harassment law enacted after the suicide of a St. Charles County teenager who was teased over the Internet.

The high court on Tuesday invalidated a 2008 state law defining harassment to cover anyone who "knowingly makes repeated unwanted communication to another person."

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Cigarette Tax
2:26 pm
Tue May 29, 2012

Buy cigarettes in Illinois? You could pay more, soon.

St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann has blocked a countywide smoking ban proposal from appearing on the November 2012 ballot.

Updated 4:30 p.m. with Quinn's comments

Updated 3:57 p.m. with the full Senate's approval of the proposal

Illinois lawmakers have approved raising cigarette taxes by $1 a pack. It now goes to Gov. Pat Quinn, who supports the increase.

The state Senate approved the legislation 31-27 Tuesday in a vote that largely followed party lines.

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Brad Harriman
1:25 pm
Tue May 29, 2012

Harriman drops from US House race in southern Ill., cites illness

Brad Harriman.
(via Brad Harriman for Congress website)

Updated 1:53 p.m. with statements from Costello, Plummer

The Democratic nominee for a southern Illinois congressional seat being vacated by Jerry Costello says he's dropping out of the race for medical reasons.

Democrat Brad Harriman says his withdrawal from the 12th Congressional District race comes after he talked with his doctor about what he calls a noticeably worsening neurological condition that now requires surgery.

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Amiel Cueto
12:53 pm
Tue May 29, 2012

Disbarred southern Illinois attorney Cueto dies

Amiel Cueto.
(Tim Vizer courtesy Belleville News-Democrat)

A former southwestern Illinois attorney who served federal prison time for trying to protect a client's illegal gambling is dead.

The St. Clair County coroner's office confirms that 63-year-old Amiel Cueto died Tuesday morning in a Belleville hospital's intensive-care unit. No details were released.

Cueto was convicted in 1997 of conspiracy and interfering with the federal gambling investigation of client Thomas Venezia.

He spent six years in federal prison and was later disbarred.

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Florrissant Officer Shooting
12:26 pm
Tue May 29, 2012

Florissant officer in critical but stable condition following shooting

Officer Michael Vernon.
(Florissant Police Department)

 

UPDATE:  Doctors are now saying that Officer Michael Vernon will be paralyzed.

 

A Florissant Police Officer remains in critical but stable condition, following a shooting early Monday morning.

Officer Michael Vernon was responding a break-in alarm around 3 a.m. when he was attacked.

Police Captain Sean Fagan says 20-year-old Brian Lamont Cannon Jr. was hiding in a dumpster when he jumped up and shot Vernon three times.

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Illinois pensions
12:17 pm
Tue May 29, 2012

Ill. House committee approves pension changes

The Ill. State House has approved legislation that makes drastic changes to state employee pensions.
(via Flickr/JimBowen0306)

Brian Mackey contributed reporting from Springfield.

An Illinois state House committee has approved sweeping changes to public employee pensions.

It's one of Gov. Pat Quinn's priorities for the legislative session that ends on Thursday.

Current and retired state and university employees, and public school teachers would face a difficult choice; keep their health care in retirement and have future pay raises count toward their pensions, but a smaller cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), or keep the current 3 percent compounding COLA but lose health care.

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