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Question of the day

Monday, Mar 30, 2015

* With last week’s bipartisan passage of the Fiscal Year 2015 budget patch, what is your outlook for the Fiscal Year 2016 challenge? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.


surveys

- Posted by Rich Miller   1 Comment      


Rauner “troubled” by new Indiana law

Monday, Mar 30, 2015

* I asked the governor’s office if Gov. Rauner had made or would make any comments on Indiana’s new law allowing corporations and individuals to discriminate against gays and others based on their religious beliefs…

Hi, Rich:

Here is what the governor said on the issue in Peoria last night in a media avail:

    Question: Any thoughts on what’s going on in Indiana right now regarding the religious freedom restoration act?

    “I’ve read a bit about it; I have to say I’m troubled by what I read, but I would have to learn more before I can really comment.”

Further, legislation like this is not on our agenda.

- Posted by Rich Miller   8 Comments      


Dold doubles down on Schock money

Monday, Mar 30, 2015

* Congressman Bob Dold still refuses to jettison disgraced Congressman Aaron Schock’s $10,000 campaign contribution. From the National Journal

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has already called on Republicans who accepted money from Schock to return their contributions, specifically highlighting Dold and other vulnerable House Republicans.

Dold spokeswoman Danielle Hagen said that “not one penny of these contributions remain in Congressman Dold’s account.”

What, did Schock donate with marked $100 bills or something?

Oh, come on, man. Your campaign committee is now $10,000 ahead of where it would’ve been had it not been for that Schock contribution.

Give it away now.

- Posted by Rich Miller   13 Comments      


More budget details begin to emerge

Monday, Mar 30, 2015

* Whenever the General Assembly rams through complicated, lengthy legislation in a day or three, it usually takes the media a few more days to catch up

Under the plan, spending on general state aid to schools would be slashed by $150 million in the final three months of the fiscal year.

The plan does give Rauner access to a $97 million slush fund to dole out to schools who are having trouble making it to the end of the year.

But, there are no guidelines for how that money can be spent.

That has some downstate lawmakers worried the whole thing was designed to allow Rauner to simply funnel the money to Chicago public schools.

According to a spreadsheet I obtained from the Illinois State Board of Education, Chicago is on pace to run short of funds before the fiscal year ends, meaning it could potentially qualify for some of the money.

* And

Stolen vehicle task forces around the state are shutting down offices instead of chop shops as new state budget strategies siphon mandatory insurance fees from police work into the state’s gaping budget hole.

Some of the six auto theft task forces in the state have been around since 1992, one year after statute created a $1-per-policy car insurance fee to fund police teams dedicated to car theft investigations. The money frequently reimbursed salaries for agencies that contributed manpower to the task forces.

But an executive order Gov. Bruce Rauner issued Jan. 12 froze that pool of money, along with hundreds of millions of dollars in other state funds deemed nonessential spending.

The General Assembly approved a measure last week that sweeps more than $1 billion from various accounts into the state’s general fund, including $6 million in auto theft task force grants — roughly a year of income for the groups derived not from tax dollars but from insurance premiums.

* And

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s signed budget fix will end in a $1.7 million cut for Illinois State University in the last months of its fiscal year.

Through the original appropriation bill, ISU was supposed to receive $74 million for this current fiscal year from the state.

According to Chief of Staff Jay Groves, the signed budget cut was about 2.25 percent of the original budget, which brought the budget down to about $72.3 million.

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 - Announcement video released *** A somewhat odd Duckworth rollout

Monday, Mar 30, 2015

* The conventional wisdom was that Congresscritter Tammy Duckworth would wait until after the municipal elections to announce her US Senate candidacy. Apparently, that was wrong

Rep. Tammy Duckworth D-Ill., will announce a 2016 Senate bid likely on Monday, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned. She is aiming to win the Democratic nomination to run against Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill.

On Monday evening, Duckworth gathers some of her top donors at a home in the Hancock Center in Chicago to discuss securing the Democratic nomination to run against Kirk, who is seeking a second term.

* The original headline was changed on the article, from she’s doing it on Monday, to she’s “likely” announcing on Monday. Not sure why, but check out Greg Hinz’s experiences

As the Sun-Times reported the other day, Tammy Duckworth, the Democratic congresswoman from Hoffman Estates who has been pondering a race against Kirk next year, has a big fundraiser March 30 at the Hancock Center in Chicago.

That has sparked chatter today [Friday] that Duckworth definitely has decided to run and might announce so on Monday.

That appears to be wrong, or at least preliminary.

Said her spokesman, “She will not be meeting reporters or speaking publicly on Monday except at her fundraiser, which is closed (to the) press.” Obviously, it’s kind of hard to announce a candidacy without the media there to spread the news.

* And then a 4 pm update

The Sun-Times says Duckworth will announce Monday. But her office is refusing to confirm that report, and previously had pretty much denied to me that she would do so then.

So, she’s “likely” announcing today, but won’t appear in public or talk to the media at all?

And what’s up with misleading reporters?

* Kirk response…

“Senator Mark Kirk is an independent voice for Illinois and is proud of his bipartisan record of achievement in the United States Senate,” said Kirk spokeswoman Alissa McCurley. “While he looks forward to a vigorous campaign, the Senator believes there will be plenty of time for politics, and he is focused on fighting for veterans who have not received the treatment and respect they have earned from our government, as well as advocating for policies that encourage economic growth and job creation.”

* And the IL GOP took the low road…

Chairman Tim Schneider issued the following statement:

“Rod Blagojevich protégé Tammy Duckworth is not the kind of partisan politician Illinois families want to represent them in the United States Senate. Duckworth represents the extreme wing of the Democrat party — voting with Nancy Pelosi 92% of the time. I have no doubt that next November, Illinois voters will re-elect Mark Kirk who has been a strong & independent voice for our state in Washington.”

*** UPDATE *** And away we go…

Rolling Meadows, IL – Today, Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth (IL-08) announced her candidacy for the U.S. Senate. In a video message to supporters, Duckworth talks about her upbringing, service in the military, commitment to Illinois’ families and lays out her vision of leadership for the state.

“I’m running for the United States Senate in 2016 because it’s time for Washington to be held accountable and to put Illinois’ families and communities first,” said Duckworth. “I look forward to visiting your community soon, and if you elect me as Illinois’ Senator, I will fight my heart out to represent you with honor and integrity.”

Duckworth, a Blackhawk helicopter pilot, served in the Army Reserve Forces for 23 years until she announced her retirement at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in 2014. She served as Director of the Illinois Department for Veteran Affairs from 2006-2009 and as an Assistant Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs from 2009-2011. Duckworth is currently in her second term as Representative of Illinois’ 8th Congressional District.

* Video

* Transcript…

Hi I’m Tammy Duckworth.

I’d like to tell you a little about myself.

I’m the daughter of a Marine, a wife, a new mom and a combat veteran.

When I was in High School, my dad lost his job at 55 and struggled with unemployment.

The bottom fell out for us. For a time, food stamps kept my brother and me from going hungry.

Graduating from college was a challenge, but I made it with help of loans, Pell grants and lots of waitressing.

That’s why I’ve always believed that if you don’t give up on yourself – our nation should never give up on you either.

Bryan and I met when we were both cadets in ROTC.

Later, I was given the opportunity to become a Blackhawk helicopter pilot and deployed to Iraq.

In 2004, while flying a combat mission near Bagdad, an RPG tore through our cockpit taking my legs and part of my arm with it.

The only reason I made it home was because of the heroism of my courageous buddies who risked their lives to save mine.

I view my time now as a bonus, and that has allowed me speak up without fear.

So when Congress failed to pass a budget, I sponsored the no budget no pay act and led by example - returning more than ten thousand dollars of my own pay to taxpayers and cutting a over a hundred thousand from my office budget.

I’m running for the United States Senate in 2016 because it’s time for Washington to be held accountable and to put Illinois’ families and communities first.

I believe that together we can build an America this is strong from the ground up.

We need more Pre-K.

We need college loans to be affordable.

And the engines of Illinois’ economy are small businesses and the middle-class – I believe we need tax cuts for them for a change.

I look forward to visiting your community soon, and if you elect me as Illinois’s Senator, I will fight my heart out to represent you with honor and integrity.

Thank you.

- Posted by Rich Miller   28 Comments      


“If I ever leave here I hope never to return”

Monday, Mar 30, 2015

* Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants to use a new Indiana law to poach some of its businesses

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is jumping into the flap over that controversial new Indiana “religious freedom” law, seeking to even up the score some after years in which the Hoosier state has raided jobs from Chicago and Illinois. And perhaps he’s trying to do himself some re-election good, too.

In letters to more than a dozen Indiana-based firms, Emanuel writes that the law will subject gays and lesbians to “new discrimination,” harming both them and Indiana’s ability to attract top talent. And that, he concludes, is a good reason to consider shifting business and even their headquarters to Chicago, “a welcoming place.” […]

The law Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed last week and which he yesterday said would not be repealed “threatens Indiana’s 21st century economic resurgence by taking the state back to the 1960s,” the letter says.

“But (Chicago’s) great strength is the quality of our workforce and the fact that Chicago is a welcoming place,” the letter continues. “Today, you cannot succeed in the global economy if you discriminate against your residents by treating them as second class citizens.

“As Gov. Pence changes state law to take Indiana backwards, I urge you to look next door.”

* Meanwhile, our neighbor to the east has been comparing its new law to Illinois statutes. They’re missing something, however. The Tribune explains

When Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed a new state law that allows people and companies to claim a religious objection to doing business with same-sex couples, he pointed to Illinois and Kentucky, saying he was simply bringing the state in line with its neighbors.

But the Republican governor and possible presidential contender left out an important fact. While Illinois does have a law that gives special protections to religious objectors, it also bans discrimination based on sexual orientation. Indiana, on the other hand, has no such ban.

That distinction is crucial, legal experts say, because anti-discrimination laws are considered stronger than religious exemptions.

* Equality Illinois…

ILLINOIS LAWS AGAINST LGBT DISCRIMINATION PROVIDE BALANCE TO RELIGIOUS FREEDOM STANDARDS

Statement by Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois

Equality Illinois denounces new laws in Indiana and under consideration in other states allowing the use of religious beliefs to discriminate and refuse service to LGBT people and other minorities, and rejects comparisons to the religious freedom law in Illinois.

We oppose legalized discrimination in Indiana under the guise of religious freedom. We are gravely concerned the new law will be used as an excuse to discriminate against the LGBT community there or anyone who visits, works, conducts business, or must travel in the state.

In acting as if the new law is a benign effort at ensuring religious freedom, officials in Indiana, Arkansas and elsewhere have cited Illinois as one state that already has such laws. While a religious freedom law has been on the books in Illinois since 1998, that’s only half the story.

Both the Indiana and Illinois laws say there must be a compelling governmental interest to burden a person’s exercise of religion, but only Illinois provides that compelling governmental interest in the LGBT-inclusive Illinois Human Rights Act and an active Department of Human Rights to enforce it.

In contrast, Indiana’s law will take effect in a legal environment that provides no protections from discrimination against LGBT Hoosiers or visitors. Neither are there LGBT protections under Arkansas law.

Illinois has a rich history of ensuring the civil rights of all peoples, including the LGBT community. Since 2005, Illinois has prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in housing, employment, and public accommodations. Illinois law addresses hate or bias crimes based on sexual orientation. Our LGBT students are protected by robust anti-bullying measures. And Illinois enacted marriage equality through the legislative process in 2013.

In Illinois, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and LGBT-inclusive provisions of the Human Rights Act have co-existed since 2005 and function to protect a person’s religious freedom while ensuring equal treatment of LGBT Illinoisans.

* Politifact offers up the ACLU’s opinion

Indiana’s law includes language that allows people to claim a religious freedom exemption “regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity is a party to the proceeding.”

That language is absent from the Illinois law.

“The Illinois law was written and designed to allow someone to change the government’s burdens on people’s religious beliefs,” said Eunice Rho, American Civil Liberties Union advocacy and policy counsel. “The Indiana law specifically says you can use the law in a lawsuit even if the government isn’t a party.”

Ultimately, judges will have to interpret the intent of the Indiana law’s language. But that doesn’t change that there are differences between it and the counterpart in Illinois.

* From the Human Rights Campaign…

In light of Indiana governor Mike Pence’s appearance on ABC’s This Week to tamp down a national outcry over his decision to sign viciously anti-LGBT S.B. 101 last week, the Human Rights Campaign issued the following statement from HRC President Chad Griffin:

“Governor Pence’s calls for a ‘clarification’ of this destructive bill are phony unless the legislation guarantees explicit non-discrimination protections for LGBT Hoosiers and includes a clear civil rights carve-out within the RFRA. If Governor Pence is right and he really doesn’t want to discriminate, he needs to prove it by protecting the LGBT residents and visitors truly at risk in Indiana. Anything less is a shameful face-saving measure.”

After criticism of the new law reached critical mass yesterday—including a statement from Indiana-based Angie’s List that they would be cancelling a planned $40 million expansion in the state in response to the new law—Governor Pence announced late last night that he would seek new legislation “clarifying” the law.

On This Week this morning, Pence offered scant details about any “clarification” legislation. He repeatedly refused to answer host George Stephanopoulos’s questions as to whether the law would allow businesses to discriminate against LGBT Hoosiers or whether discrimination against LGBT Hoosiers should be legal.

Today’s headline explained here.

…Adding… From comments…

The new Indiana law allows individuals, religious organizations, and businesses to seek judicial relief if a person’s religious exercise has been “substantially burdened, or is likely to be burdened…regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity is a party to the proceeding.” In contrast, Illinois law allows a person to seek judicial relief only against a government and only if that person’s exercise of religion has been burdened.

In Indiana, a private party can now claim religious rights in a legal dispute with another private party “regardless of whether the state or any governmental entity is a party to the proceeding.” Additionally, a private party in Indiana can now initiate a claim of violation if their religious rights are “likely to be substantially burdened.” The party doesn’t need to demonstrate actual harm. Neither scenario is allowed under Illinois law.

These are major expansions beyond what the IL law states.

Adding More… Another commenter pointed to this Atlantic piece, which is quite good

(T)he Indiana statute explicitly makes a business’s “free exercise” right a defense against a private lawsuit by another person, rather than simply against actions brought by government. Why does this matter? Well, there’s a lot of evidence that the new wave of “religious freedom” legislation was impelled, at least in part, by a panic over a New Mexico state-court decision, Elane Photography v. Willock. In that case, a same-sex couple sued a professional photography studio that refused to photograph the couple’s wedding. New Mexico law bars discrimination in “public accommodations” on the basis of sexual orientation. The studio said that New Mexico’s RFRA nonetheless barred the suit; but the state’s Supreme Court held that the RFRA did not apply “because the government is not a party.”

Remarkably enough, soon after, language found its way into the Indiana statute to make sure that no Indiana court could ever make a similar decision. Democrats also offered the Republican legislative majority a chance to amend the new act to say that it did not permit businesses to discriminate; they voted that amendment down.

But of course, this has nothing whatsoever to do with discrimination against gays!

Yeah. Right.

…Adding Even More… From comments…

While most of the discussion of the Indiana law has been on LGBT discrimination, the impact is really much broader. Indiana does have civil rights laws that forbid discrimination on the basis of race, religion, national origin, sex, and disability in employment, education, real estate transactions, and public accommodations. The new Indiana law will eliminate the ability of the state Civil Rights Commission to enforce any anti-discrimination laws, and of individuals to pursue state court discrimination claims, when the potential defendant says his/her/its motivation was religiously-based.

- Posted by Rich Miller   33 Comments      


Schock’s breathtaking downfall

Monday, Mar 30, 2015

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

Congressman Aaron Schock’s resignation is not only a blow to national Republicans, for whom Schock raised millions, but also to Illinois Republicans.

Just eight weeks ago, Schock was widely believed to be next in line to chair the National Republican Congressional Committee. But his rapid fall from grace ruined his career and deprived the NRCC of a chance to project a far more youthful public image.

Needless to say, the Illinois House Republicans are heartbroken by this loss. Schock is a former state House member and he retained quite a bit of personal affection and even admiration by his onetime colleagues and staffers. But it’s the loss of his assistance which will be felt the most. Schock has been very helpful to the point of being almost indispensable to the House Republicans. He’s helped recruit candidates, raised money for them and helped them campaign. And he was quite successful.

Ever since he defeated a sitting Democratic Representative in a solidly Democratic district at the age of 23, Schock has been the HGOP’s wonder boy. And they’ve used his help and his model to win other districts, including state Reps. Adam Brown and Michael Unes, who both won Democratic-controlled districts with Schock’s assistance in 2010.

The Illinois Republicans don’t remember Schock as the jet-setting, rule-shortcutting playboy he became in Washington, DC. When he was in Springfield, Schock was rarely seen on the nightlife circuit, often traveling back to Peoria after the day’s session ended to meet with constituents. He was always a young man on a mission, and he seemed to fully understand back then that if he wanted to continue his meteoric rise up the political ladder, he had to make sure he was always in tune and in touch with the folks back home.

So, what the heck happened here?

Well, the Democrats probably didn’t do him any favors by drawing him the most Republican congressional district in the state. Schock did stay in touch with his constituents via regular trips back home, but with his political safety all but assured, he apparently no longer felt the need to be “in tune” with his district.

And his 24/7 fundraising meant he was constantly hanging out with wealthy people. Personally interacting with people who literally have money to burn can have an overwhelmingly intoxicating effect, particularly on somebody who has always personally striven to be rich. We saw much the same thing happen to former Gov. Rod Blagojevich and former Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., who both lived well beyond their means in order to somehow keep up with their rich buddies.

Schock’s first job was in the 5th grade, doing database management for a chain of book stores. He was investing in the stock market when he was barely a teenager. When he was talking about running for governor a couple of years ago, he said if he lost he’d just go make lots of money. Schock was always confident in his own political and financial skills. He just knew he would reach the highest rungs of whatever ladder he climbed.

But that aborted bid for governor forced Schock to rethink his future and focus his sole attention on rising through the congressional ranks. He held a leadership post and looked like he had an eventual straight shot to the very top, but was sidetracked last year when his ally, Majority Leader Eric Cantor unexpectedly lost his primary election. He then set his sights on the NRCC, and the chairmanship was literally within his grasp.

The complacency caused by Schock’s safe GOP district and his realization that Congress was the only venue he’d probably ever have for stardom, his single-mindedness about how raising money was his only ticket to the top combined with his personal quest for wealth and his apparent need to emulate the lifestyles of the folks he was raising money from (plus whatever else happened that we don’t know about) all somehow led him to start cutting corners. And when you start doing that, it’s very difficult to stop. Indeed, it often leads to much worse things. Just ask Rod or Jesse.

And now, Schock is under federal investigation. The final chapter won’t be written on this book for quite a while. Hopefully, after this is all over, after he has paid his price (if any), Schock can put those truly amazing skills of his to work again for the people he once clearly loved.

He’s only 33 years old. He’ll have plenty of time to redeem himself.

- Posted by Rich Miller   28 Comments      


Dogmatic nonsense

Monday, Mar 30, 2015

* My Crain’s Chicago Business column

I think we all have weirdly dogmatic friends.

You know the type. They are often intelligent, successful, open-minded, even kind until you get them on their “one topic” that turns them into crazy people.

Maybe it’s religion, or the Middle East, or President Barack Obama, or abortion, or climate change. Maybe it’s something as minor as the designated hitter rule.

All of a sudden, your friend turns into a raging, hissing monster, impervious to rational discussion. I’ve known plenty of people who are no longer on speaking terms with family members or longtime friends after enduring one too many of those uber-dogmatic freakouts.

That brings us to Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Go read the rest before commenting, please.

* And speaking of not listening to reason

But even the business groups that support right-to-work and empowerment zones say the governor can’t get that done.

“We’re supportive, but the political reality for a state right-to-work bill is zero,” said Kim Clarke Maisch, state director of the Illinois Federation of Independent Business. […]

Instead, business groups want to focus on traditional bread-and-butter issues such as workers’ compensation, minimum wage, tort reform and unemployment insurance costs, said Clarke Maisch.

“You want to focus on what you can get done,” said Clarke Maisch.

When even the NFIB is to your economic left, you know you’ve ventured too far afield.

- Posted by Rich Miller   45 Comments      


Schilling endorses LaHood

Saturday, Mar 28, 2015

[Comments are now open.]

* From a press release…

Today former U.S. Representative Bobby Schilling (R-Colona) announced his full support for Illinois State Senator Darin LaHood (R-Peoria) in his run for Congress to represent the Illinois 18th District.

“Darin LaHood is a principled conservative, a man of great character, and a true statesman. There is no doubt in my mind he will be an excellent representative in Congress for central Illinois,” Schilling said. “Darin understands the challenges we face as a nation. As a State Senator, Darin worked to rebuild the middle class and promote policies to strengthen our economy and improve the lives of all Illinoisans.

“Darin will put the dignity of the human person at the center of his agenda in Washington. From protecting the innocent unborn to promoting working families, Darin will always do the right thing.

“Darin’s conservative values are right for the Illinois 18th District and right for America. I’m proud to support him—he’s done great things for the State of Illinois—and I look forward to seeing him take on a new challenge in Washington, D.C.”

The behind the scenes maneuvering on behalf of LaHood has been pretty impressive so far.

- Posted by Rich Miller   4 Comments      


PREVIOUS POSTS »
* Question of the day
* Rauner "troubled" by new Indiana law
* Dold doubles down on Schock money
* More budget details begin to emerge
* *** UPDATED x1 - Announcement video released *** A somewhat odd Duckworth rollout
* "If I ever leave here I hope never to return"
* Schock's breathtaking downfall
* Dogmatic nonsense
* Schilling endorses LaHood
* Yesterday's blog posts

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        * Dogmatic nonsense..
        * Rauner’s ‘right-to-work’ proposal focus of larg.....
        * Rauner’s ‘right-to-work’ proposal focus of larg.....
        * More budget details begin to emerge..
        * Eye on the inside: Do cameras in nursing homes .....
        * Pyke: Could tolls go up based on inflation?..
        * Rauner targeting Upward Mobility in next budget..


        * Religious act has Chicago mayor wooing Indiana businesses
        * Duckworth makes video announcement for 2016 Senate bid
        * Obama votes absentee for Emanuel in Chicago mayoral runoff
        * Village police chief leaves after raid by Illinois troopers
        * UnitedHealth to buy pharmacy benefits manager Catamaran
        * Officials: Slow justice at fault in Chicago man's long con
        * 1 killed, 1 injured in crash on Chicago's Lower West Side
        * Officials: Slow justice at fault in Chicago man's long con
        * Chicago-area community college to offer free tuition
        * Illinois auto-theft task forces closing due to budget crisis

        * Duckworth to challenge Kirk for U.S. Senate seat
        * Bill pushes for possible municipal bankruptcies in Illinois
        * Stripped of funding, auto theft task forces shutting down
        * Rauner looks to Kentucky right-to-work zones as labor model
        * Rauner's business prescriptions are popular, but no cure-all
        * Stripped of funding, Illinois auto theft task forces are shutting down
        * Statehouse Insider: Now the tough budget talks begin
        * Effingham native Jim Schultz brings entrepreneurial spirit to state agency
        * Rauner's 'right-to-work' proposal focus of larger debate on business climate
        * Effingham native Schultz brings entrepreneurial spirit to state agency

        * Fortune Brands to pay $600 million for cabinetmaker
        * Horizon Pharma buys drugs for rare diseases
        * Catamaran to be acquired by UnitedHealth unit
        * Former opponent Fioretti endorses Emanuel
        * Indiana governor supports bill to 'clarify intent' of religious-objection law


          * Duckworth to challenge Kirk for U.S. Senate
          * Downers Grove man charged in Domino's robbery
          * Wisconsin trooper who died in the line of duty to be buried
          * Police: 2 men bring guns into O'Hare
          * Man faces charges after being accused of shooting, injuring another man
          * College of DuPage's spending under investigation, sources say
          * When Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia was in charge: Mixed results at community group
          * Roll-over blocks northbound lanes on I-55 ramp near Burr Ridge
          * University Park girl, 5, found after Amber alert issued
          * Critic Fioretti says Emanuel has changed, but Garcia downplays endorsement


          * Legal expert says Illinois 'got it right' when it comes to religious freedom law
          * Legal expert says Illinois 'got it right' regarding its religious freedom law
          * Heinz buying Northfield-based Kraft and building a $28 billion food giant
          * Obamacare tax rules trip some immigrants
          * Jesse Jackson Jr. leaves federal prison for halfway house
          * With GOP votes, Indiana House approves religious objection bill
          * After spending scandals, Rep. Aaron Schock says goodbye
          * Legislature to consider Madigan plan to fill state budget gap
          * Rauner signs into law compromise plan to fix budget hole
          * Where can a politician wield more influence? Chicago's City Council vs. Illinois' Statehouse


          * Duckworth to challenge Kirk for U.S. Senate seat
          * Our Opinion: Rianne Hawkins for Springfield city clerk; Misty Buscher for city treasurer
          * Bill pushes for possible municipal bankruptcies in Illinois
          * Stripped of funding, auto theft task forces shutting down
          * Rauner looks to Kentucky right-to-work zones as labor model
          * Rauner's business prescriptions are popular, but no cure-all
          * Statehouse Insider: Now the tough budget talks begin
          * Statehouse Insider: Now the tough budget talks begin
          * Bernard Schoenburg: Use of city seal on campaign materials becomes issue in Ward 7 race
          * Our Opinion: In Springfield mayor's race, Jim Langfelder gets our endorsement


          * Caseyville village trustee races: Meet the candidates
          * Granite City aldermanic races: Meet the candidates
          * Breese school board race: Meet the candidates
          * Granite City Alderman Ward 3 candidate: Nick Raftopoulos
          * Granite City Alderman Ward 1 candidate: Brenda Whitaker
          * 03-30-15 Monday Morning Quarterbacks
          * Cahokia village races: Meet the candidates
          * Fairmont City village trustee race: Meet the candidates
          * Freeburg school board races: Meet the candidates
          * Fairmont City Village Trustee candidate: Michael R. Krypciak


          * Palatine Dist. 15 finances likely to be hot topic at Tuesday forum
          * Tollway: Use our free Wi-Fi, don't text and drive
          * UnitedHealth buys Catamaran for $12 billion
          * The pluses, minuses of educators serving on school boards
          * Another delay in sex abuse trial of former Chicago Bulls player

          * Question of the day
          * Duckworth Launches 2016 U.S. Senate Bid
          * Kinzinger gives foreign policy lecture to ...
          * Duckworth to challenge Kirk for U.S. Senate
          * US Rep. Randy Hultgren joins bipartisan gr...
          * St. Louis-area members of Congress votes f...
          * Bustos steps aside as Duckworth announces ...
          * Tammy Duckworth Formally Announces U.S. Se...
          * Tammy Duckworth Announces Illinois Senate Bid
          * Bustos steps aside as Duckworth announces ...

          * Illinois Senators Propose Changes in Disas......
          * Abbreviated pundit round-up: Threat of mod......
          * Ben Bernanke, blogger...

          * Tammy Duckworth launches Illinois Senate bid...
          * U.S. Rep. Duckworth, Illinois Democrat, to......
          * Rep. Tammy Duckworth Is Running for Senate...
          * Duckworth to challenge Kirk for Illinois S......
          * Illinois Democrat Duckworth to run for U.S......

          * Illinois General Assembly passes emergency budget bill
          * Kaifesh: Six reasons why Tammy Duckworth is unfit to serve
          * Morning Minute: Housing markets warm up for spring home buying season
          * Morning Minute: U.S. pending home sales rise to highest level since June 2013
          * Duckworth announces 2016 bid to challenge Mark Kirk
          * Roskam calls to cut funding for Obama's P5+1 negotiations with Iran
          * University Officials in Florida authorize Pro-ISIS Club
          * Enter Courtney Hawkins
          * The [Monday] Papers
          * Jesse Jackson Jr moves from federal prison to halfway house in D.C.


          * Governor Rauner Takes Bill Action
          * Governor Announces Appointments B.R. Lane to lead Illinois Lottery; John Holden to continue leading Dept. of Aging
          * Nominating Petitions Available For Illinois Commodity Board Seats
          * Health Matters: 2015 Illinois Minority Health Efforts - Creating & Sustaining Healthy Communities
          * ‘Text First, Talk Second’ Often Best Way to Contact Loved Ones When Disaster Strikes - IEMA Encourages People to Have Plan for Communicating with Family Members, Friends during Emergencies




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