illinois

An Illinois Senate committee has approved restrictions on semiautomatic assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.  The bills are now on their way to the full Senate. One measure bans the sale of semiautomatic handguns and rifles. People who already own such weapons can keep them, but they will have to register them. The second proposal would limit ammunition magazines to 10 or fewer rounds.

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A new Illinois law is allowing some methamphetamine addicts to try treatment instead of serving prison time. Lawmakers say the new option could rehabilitate addicts and ease jail overcrowding. The law allows first-time offenders in possession of less than 15 grams of meth to take treatment. Massac County Sheriff Ted Holder tells WPSD the county’s jail is 30 percent overcrowded and that many inmates are there for minor drug offenses.

A new Illinois law that punishes adults who host parties with underage drinking at their home is taking effect Tuesday. The legislation makes it a Class A misdemeanor to host or allow gatherings where teenagers drink alcohol. Fines will be at least $500. It's a Class 4 felony if the underage drinking results in injury or death. Adults who discover minors drinking alcohol on their property won't be charged if they call the police to help put a stop to the party.

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With its pension funds are the most underfunded in the U.S., and a shortfall approaching $100 billion, Illinois lawmakers will meet again next week in hopes of fixing the problem. Solutions other states adopted as long as five years ago are on the table. They include higher retirement ages, asking workers to contribute more and switching to 401(k)-style plans.

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Illinois Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon says funding for the state's veterans homes is being threatened by a growing public pension burden. Simon visited the Adjutant Illinois Veterans Home in Anna Thursday to celebrate the holiday season with residents and highlight the service the homes provide. The state operates homes in Anna, LaSalle, Manteno and Quincy but has cut funding for them.

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The clock is ticking for Illinois legislators to come up with a law approving the concealed carry of weapons after a federal appellate court decided last week to throw out the state's ban on concealed guns. The legislature has 180 days to craft a new law and has the option of using a law already in place in one of the other 49 states.

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City officials throughout Illinois are urging the state to appeal a court decision that would throw out Illinois' ban on concealed carry weapons. A federal appeals court ruled earlier this week the state’s ban is unconstitutional. The court gave lawmakers 180 days to come up with a law legalizing concealed weapons.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is filing suit against a company for allegedly conning businesses into paying unnecessary fees with an official-looking letter. The bogus letters told companies to pay a $125 fee for an "annual minutes records form." Madigan's office says the letters were made to look like they were from the Illinois Secretary of State's office. Madigan says companies can toss the letters in the garbage because the fee isn't required by Illinois law.

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Illinois state officials are donating computers from the federal government to help veterans find jobs.  The Illinois Department of Central Management Services and state Veterans Affairs says 100 refurbished computers will be given to organizations throughout the state so veterans can get online access to job training and state and federal resources.

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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