illinois

The Illinois Department of Employment Security says a federal program that provided unemployment insurance beyond the state's initial 25-week coverage expires Dec. 29. Congress extended the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program earlier this year, but the extension included a provision to end the program later this month. It has provided long-term unemployed people with benefits for 20 weeks beyond the state program financed by Illinois businesses.

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The Illinois Department of Natural Resources says hunters harvested more than 99 thousand deer during this year's firearm season. The preliminary total is about 2,500 higher than last year.  I-D-N-R Forest Wildlife Program Manager Paul Shelton says hunters probably benefited from this year’s split season because of warmer weather.

A consumer advocacy groups says scams adding charges to people’s cell phone bills have almost doubled in Illinois this past year.  The Citizens Utility Board says scammers target cell users as wireless communication increases and new laws forbid cramming land lines. Cramming refers to third-party charges added to customers’ bills for services they never ordered.

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Illinois lawmakers are bringing a new proposal on the table to fix the state’s multi-billion dollar pension crisis. Democratic Representative Elaine Nekritz and about a dozen other lawmakers are expected to announce new legislation today to repair Illinois' $95 billion pension liability. The plan calls for raising employee contributions and a tiered retirement age. It also would shift some of the costs for teachers' pensions to school districts.

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An Illinois medicine-monitoring program joins a national data-sharing network to further prevent prescription drug abuse. The Department of Human Services is linking its prescription monitoring program to a National Association of Boards of Pharmacy network. By joining the national network, Human Services will be able to better identify people who have been issued multiple prescriptions across state lines.

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Illinois lawmakers are facing the final three days of the Legislature’s fall session, but big issues like fixing state pension funds or expanding legalized gambling will probably have to wait for January action. The Senate might consider a House-approved resolution opposing wage increases for state workers this year.

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Top Illinois Republicans are joining an effort to provide driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants. House Minority Leader Tom Cross and Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno are joining former GOP Gov. Jim Edgar today at the state Capitol to announce their support.

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Illinois Governor Pat Quinn wants the House of Representatives to spend money on children, not outdated prisons. Quinn continues to try to divert money from prisons to child-protection services after the Senate rejected the attempt made there. The state Senate voted 35 to 16 to reject Quinn’s $57 million cuts.

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Illinois lawmakers are considering a three-year pilot program that would temporarily legalize medical marijuana for people with certain illnesses. Bill sponsor Rep. Lou Lang says he thinks political momentum is on his side and hopes to vote on the bill Wednesday.

A Peabody Energy Corp.  subsidiary is permanently closing a southern Illinois mine because it failed to meet safety, compliance and performance standards. Bay Ridge Inc. says operations at the Willow Lake Mine near Harrisburg are unsustainable. The mine closing will affect about 400 workers.

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