Good morning! Here are a few headlines to start your day!
- Missouri's new Republican senator Roy Blunt says he's disappointed that Ann Wagner was not selected as the new Chair of the Republican Party. Wagner served as Blunt's campaign chair during his successful run for the U.S. Senate seat. Still, Blunt says he's hopeful that the GOP will be under solid leadership ahead of next year's presidential elections.
- Ill. Gov. Pat Quinn has signed legislation providing a $2,500 tax credit to employers hiring trainees from the Put Illinois to Work temporary jobs program. The measure signed Monday takes effect immediately. Quinn says the new law gives employers an incentive to continue providing jobs to those who need them. Employers who hire a former trainee from Put Illinois to Work are now eligible for the Illinois Small Business Job Creation Tax Credit. The $2,500 credit is still available to small businesses. The new law requires the employees recieve no less than $10 an hour, with a minimum of $18,200 annually. The bill was sponsored by Coal City Democrat Rep. Careen Gordon and Evanston Democrat Sen. Jeffrey Schoenberg.
- The top lawmakers in the Missouri House are pledging to block Gov. Jay Nixon from billing state agencies for his airplane flights. House Speaker Steven Tilley and Minority Leader Mike Talboy told The Associated Press on Monday that they will insert provisions into the budget bills for Missouri departments prohibiting money from being used for gubernatorial travel. The AP first reported in 2009 that Nixon was charging other agencies for the cost of his flights. Nixon continued to defend the practice Monday. He told the AP it's both appropriate and efficient to charge his travel costs to departments, especially when he' discussing topics those departments oversee. But legislative leaders said Nixon is diverting department money from its original purpose, which is inappropriate, especially in tight budget times.
- U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) says states shouldn't impose the death penalty, but he says the doesn't want to abolish all federal authority to employ capital punishment. Durbin tells The State Journal-Register that he has always supported the death penalty. But he says he's come to believe that "life in prison is penalty enough" and that it is time to bring an end to the death penalty. Durbin says his concern is about whether the death penalty can be fairly administered. He says he'd make an exception for national crimes that involve terrorism or treason. Ill. Gov. Pat Quinn is considering whether to sign a bill abolishing the death penalty in Illinois.