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House Goes After Retiree Pay Increases
Retired state workers are facing a potential pay cut. They currently receive a three-percent compounded cost of living increase every year, which Representative Elaine Nekritz calls very generous. The House passed a bill which would require both current and future retirees to wait five years before getting a cost of living adjustment. Or, the COLA would kick in when the person turns 67, whichever comes first. The proposal would also change the amount of the COLA. Those who make less than 25-thousand dollars will remain at the current three-percent increase, while those above 25-grand would get an increase of 750-dollars a year. It's expected to save 100-billion dollars by 2045. Republicans and Democrats supported the bill.
Chicago Schools to close
Parents, teachers and community members say they will fight Chicago's plan to close 54 city schools. Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the city schools chief say too many buildings are half-empty and money to keep them open would be better spent elsewhere. But critics say the closures will make troubled neighborhoods worse and put students in danger.
Bat Fungus Could Spell Ruins For IL Crops
Bat fungus has quickly become a major threat to Illinois crops. White-nose syndrome has already jeopardized the state's bat population, which is bad news for Illinois farmers. Experts say the bats provide more than three-billion-dollars worth of natural pest control every year to Illinois
crops. The fungus has been confirmed in at least four Illinois counties so far.
Teen Tanning Ban Passes House
A plan to keep teens from tanning is one step closer to reality. But Representative Dennis Reboletti calls it a bad idea. The Illinois House passed a bill which would ban anyone under 18 from using the beds. Opponents argue kids can operate a vehicle at 16 and enlist in the military at 17, so it doesn't make sense that those same kids won't be able to tan. The bill now heads to the Senate.
Tuberculosis at record low in Illinois
The number of tuberculosis cases in Illinois reached a record low last year. State health officials say they documented 347 cases in 2012. They attribute the success to a practice called directly observed therapy. That involves health department staff meeting regularly with patients to watch them take their medications.
Homebuying assistance on the way
Illinois is expanding a program to help people interested in buying vacant homes. The Illinois Building Blocks program will now be available in 15 cities, including Belleville, Peoria, Champaign and Joliet. It offers $10,000 to potential buyers for down payments and closing costs.
Illinoisans Like Their Movies
It appears that Illinoisans are heading to the movie theaters more than ever before. The Motion Picture Association says 74-percent of Illinois residents head to the movies. That's even above the national average of 68-percent.
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