Illinois Senate

Flickr/Jason Dunnivant

Legislators and lobbyists will once again fill Illinois' capitol this week, as the General Assembly returns from a two-week break. 

This is the time the legislative session ratchets up - as it will until a scheduled May 31 adjournment.

The Senate will take up legislation already approved by the House, or vice versa -- either killing proposals or sending them to the governor's desk.  For example: a proposal to legalize same-sex marriage in Illinois.  It passed the Senate, but is awaiting a vote in the House.

(via Flickr/jglazer75)

A push to make Illinois schools adopt more thorough policies to prevent bullying fell short in the state Senate.

The legislation would have required schools to spell out how they would investigate allegations and what would happen to students caught bullying others.

It got 29 votes Tuesday but needed 30 for approval. Twelve senators voted "no" and 12 voted "present."

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A longtime member of the Illinois Human Rights Commission has been denied another term because of material on his website about the Nation of Islam.

Munir Muhammad is an official in the Coalition for the Remembrance of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, who led the Nation of Islam for decades. The coalition's website includes a statement saying "race mixing" and interracial marriage should be prohibited.

It's not clear from the website whether the coalition endorses that view or is presenting it to show what Elijah Muhammad believed.

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The Illinois Senate has agreed to end the practice of letting lawmakers hand out free college educations to their constituents.

For years, the Senate had been the last roadblock in efforts to end the program. Thursday's Senate vote makes it likely the Illinois House and governor will quickly take the final steps in getting rid of the tuition waivers.

The measure passed 43-5, with five senators voting "present."

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Illinois legislation is advancing that would regulate decades-old but debated technology used to reach previously inaccessible natural gas reserves deep underground.

The state Senate on Thursday unanimously sent to the House a bill addressing hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. That technology involves using mixtures of water, sand and chemicals to free below-ground energy reserves.

Senate Bill 3280 comes as energy companies are pushing to prospect possible drilling sites using fracking in southern Illinois.

(via Flickr/Boaz Arad)

Reporting from Rachel Otwell of WUIS used in this report.

Illinois state legislators are pushing to tack on a year of math for high school students. But not everyone thinks that's a good idea.

Backers say requiring four years of math instead of the current three will prepare students going into skilled labor and science and engineering fields.

But, state Sen. Dave Luechtefeld, R-Okawville, says tacking on a year of math won't necessarily be beneficial.

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Will be updated.

Illinois lawmakers have approved a $330 million package of tax relief to businesses and individuals.

The state Senate approved the business measure 44-9 on Tuesday. The individual tax relief passed 48-4. Both now go to Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, a supporter.

UPI/Bill Greenblatt

World Series Game 6 tonight at Busch after being postponed due to rain

Last night, Major League Baseball officials postponed Game 6 of the World Series because of the rainy forecast. The Texas Rangers and the Cardinals will play tonight at Busch Stadium starting at 7:05 CST.

Texas leads the Series 3-2. If Game 7 is necessary, it will be played tomorrow night at Busch.

E. coli outbreak in St. Louis County

(via Flickr/lobo235)

Reporting from Illinois Public Radio's Amanda Vinicky used in this report.

The Illinois Senate has approved changes intended to help revive electricity legislation vetoed by the governor.

The changes passed 37-20 Tuesday, despite opposition from Gov. Pat Quinn.

At issue is a plan to let power companies raise rates to pay for infrastructure improvements, including high-tech changes called "Smart Grid." Critics say the plan guarantees unfair profits and weakens state regulators.

(via Flickr/jglazer75)

Illinois lawmakers are cutting their pay for the third straight year as the state struggles with a major budget deficit.

The Illinois Senate approved the pay cut 48-4 Wednesday. The House had passed the measure in May.

It requires lawmakers to take 12 unpaid furlough days and give up their annual cost-of-living increase. The cost for each legislator is about $3,900.

Democratic Sen. Dan Kotowski said it's important for legislators to share the pain so many others in state government are feeling.

But Sen. Annazette Collins disagreed.

(via Flickr/Cast a Line)

Reporting from Illinois Public Radio's Luke Runyon used in this report.

A plan to prohibit public disclosure of licensed gun owners is headed to the Governor, who has indicated he supports it.

The 42 to 1 Senate vote Friday would overturn a ruling earlier this year by Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office that the names are public under the Freedom of Information Act.

Madigan responded after the Illinois State Police refused to release the names to reporters.  Roughly one million people are registered to own firearms in Illinois.

(Illinois Senate via Google Earth)

Updated at 1:28 p.m. with Republican reaction via the Associated Press:

Some Republican Illinois senators are satisfied with a newly proposed remap of their legislative

Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale says his new district would grow by about 7,000 people and pick up parts of Cook County in a proposed Senate redistricting map released Thursday.

The Illinois Senate overrode Gov. Pat Quinn's request to delay implementation of a new law that sets provisions for gubernatorial appointments.

The Senate overrode the veto without opposition Friday. The House must override it for it to become law.

The law says the Senate must review temporary appointees and people serving after their terms end or they will lose their jobs.

Previously temporary appointees could serve indefinitely.

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Illinois lawmakers have set aside billions of dollars to pay state obligations as part of what Democrats call a more responsible approach to the budget.

The state Senate sent the governor legislation that devotes nearly $8 billion to paying off debt and making pension payments.

Senate President John Cullerton said Friday the goal is to make sure the state doesn't duck these obligations or pay them with borrowed money.

(via Flickr/jglazer75)

Updated 3:20 p.m. with Illinois Public Radio story including more detail and comment from Rutherford.

Reporting from Illinois Public Radio's Amanda Vinicky used in this report. 

Illinois' treasurer invests the state's money. The Comptroller pays the bills. A measure approved by the Senate today would merge the two constitutional offices.

Supporters say it makes "sense" - literally and metaphorically. According to projections, the consolidation would result in a savings of $12 million.

(via Flickr/jglazer75)

Updated 4:10 p.m. March 17, 2011 with Gov. Quinn's comments.

Gov. Pat Quinn says he opposes a package of budget cuts proposed by Illinois Senate Republicans.

The Chicago Democrat said Thursday the "foolhardy" cuts would kills jobs and weaken the economy just as Illinois recovers from a recession.

The Republican plan includes cuts to education, health care and local government. They estimate the savings at $6.7 billion.

The two biggest pieces are the most difficult.

(via Flickr/seannaber)

An Illinois Senate committee has voted to raise cigarette taxes by $1 a pack and use the money for construction projects around the state.

Senators split along party lines Wednesday, with nine Democrats supporting the increase and six Republicans opposing it. The measure now goes to the full Senate.

Democrats say the cigarette tax could replace other sources of construction money that are tied up in a legal dispute. They also say it would cut state health costs by discouraging smoking.

Republicans argue the increase would disproportionately fall on the poor.

(via Flickr/jglazer75)

UPDATE 3:03 p.m. Jan. 11, 2011:

The Associated Press is reporting that the Illinois Senate has voted to abolish the death penalty in that state.

The Chicago Tribune also reports the following:

The ban on executions goes to Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, who must sign the legislation for it to become law. During last fall's campaign, Quinn said he supports "capital punishment when applied carefully and fairly," but also backs the 10-year-old moratorium on executions.

The Senate voted 32-25 to approve the ban, with two members voting present.


UPDATE 1:13 p.m. Jan. 11, 2011:

The Illinois Senate is debating the death penalty bill this afternoon on the floor. You can listen or watch the debate live here.

Earlier Story:

Illinois has moved one step closer to a vote on abolishing the death penalty in the state.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Illinois Senate Judiciary Committee voted this morning to advance a bill to repeal the death penalty, setting up a probable full Senate vote later today.

The bill passed in the House last week in a quick re-vote when the first vote failed the bill, 59-58.

The Chicago Tribune also has more information on the history of the death penalty in the state, via legislation and key cases in their story today.


The Associated Press is reporting that the Illinois Senate has approved civil unions for gay couples.  Governor Pat Quinn says he will sign the measure.

Here's more information from the AP (as of 2:10 p.m.):