Civil Unions Passes IL House

The push to allow same sex couples to enter into civil unions cleared a huge hurdle by passing the Illinois House Tuesday. 


Democratic State Representative Greg Harris sponsored the bill, and called on his colleagues to vote on what he called "the right side of history."  


"This legislation is a fair, moderate center," says Harris. "It does not change the definition of marriage. It provides basic legal rights to our citizens." 


Opponents, though, argued that allowing civil unions will eventually lead to legalizing gay marriage, which they say should be reserved for a man and a woman.  Civil unions do allow couples some of the legal protections of marriage, like power of attorney to make medical decisions. 


The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration, and could be called for a vote as soon as Wednesday. 


Legalizing Medical Marijuana Falls Short

A plan to legalize medical marijuana in Illinois hit a snag Tuesday in the Illinois House.


The bill's sponsor delayed a vote on the measure after it became clear that it did not have enough support to pass.  Opponents like Republican State Representative Sandy Cole says she doesn't believe this bill is about helping sick people.  


"It doesn't talk about disease management," says Cole. "It talks about how much dope you can have." 


Supporters argued that legalizing medical marijuana could provide relief to people suffering from painful diseases like cancer or multiple sclerosis.


Since the bill was pulled from the record before the votes were counted, there is a chance that the issue could be brought back up in the future. 


Abolishing IL Death Penalty Moves Forward

A plan to abolish the death penalty in Illinois has cleared a legislative committee, and is on it's way to the full House for debate. 


A judiciary panel approved the measure by a four-to-three margin.  The bill's sponsor, Democratic State Representative Karen Yarbrough indicated she may call the bill for a vote on the House floor soon. 


No one has been executed in Illinois since then Governor George Ryan ordered a moratorium on capital punishment in 2000. 


Curl Ordered to Give DNA Sample

The DeKalb man charged with murdering Northern Illinois University student Toni Keller will have to provide a DNA sample to to investigators.


A motion by prosecutors to have a DNA sample taken from 34-year-old Billy Curl was granted during a hearing in DeKalb County Court this morning. Public defender Regina Harris had agreed to the motion.


Prosecutors want the sample to try to determine if shoes recovered from the DeKalb County landfill are Curl’s.


In the motion, prosecutors say Curl described Keller’s death to police in an interview, and the motion says Curl told police that he threw out the shoes he was wearing at the time of her death since they had bloodstains on them. Investigators will try to check whether DNA from the sample that will be taken from Curl matches DNA on the shoes that have been recovered from the landfill.


While the motion says Curl described Keller’s death to police, it does not say he confessed to her murder. DeKalb Police Chief Bill Feithen this morning said he wouldn’t release any details beyond what was in the prosecution’s motion.


Curl is next due in court on December Ninth.


Citizens Group Wants Better Communication Between DeKalb School Board & Community

A citizens group is ready to share the issues they feel need to be addressed in the DeKalb School District.


About 15 residents participated in the third meeting of the Citizens of District 428 Monday night. One of the organizers, Tracy Wilson, says the prime issue the group wants to see addressed is improving communication between the school board and the community.


"A lot of people felt that what was being communicated wasn't enough. There was still a lot of uncertainty as to what direction we were going to go given all of the financial issues that this district and all of them have today... I think there was a loss of faith," says Wilson. "The only way to bolster that faith back up between the community and the school board is through improved communication and better understanding, and that comes from both sides, but, especially the school board."


The group also brainstormed ideas on how to improve communications between the community and school district. Lily Lake Elementary School Principal Trent Lange was invited to the meeting and says the Burlington School District holds a focus group once a year.


"We, as principals, were asked to invite five parents from our school," says Lange. "We would put the big questions of the day out there for discussion, and all the administrators would come, we would take a group of 15 or so, and we just hear what the community comments were."


The Citizens of District 428 group plans to share summaries of their meetings with the candidates for school board after they file next month as well as with current school board members.


The group doesn’t have any further meetings scheduled, but does plan to meet again in the future.


Director Picked for Multi-County UofI Extention Unit

The director of the Ogle County U of I Extension Office has been selected to lead the new, consolidated extension unit that will serve DeKalb, Ogle and Boone counties.


Vicky Broos begins her new position as the director of the multi-county unit on Wednesday. Current DeKalb County Extension Director John Horn will continue to work with the office through February.


Johnna Jennings, who has been the coordinator for 4-H in DeKalb County, will do the same for the multicounty unit. While other programs will consolidate, each county will continue to have its own 4-H and Master Gardener programs.


In announcing the changes, Extension officials says they’re consolidating administration instead of cutting programs to deal with less state funding.


Inmate Faces More Charges After Allegedly Fighting with Deputies in Jail

Police say they had to use a taser to subdue a DeKalb County Jail inmate who was fighting with deputies.


DeKalb County Sheriff Roger Scott says the incident began shortly after midnight Sunday when 21-year-old Keith Lowrance of Somonauk began ramming his head against the wall of his cell, causing his head to bleed.


When a corrections deputy came into the cell to help Lowrance with the wound, Lowrance allegedly became combative and then fought with additional deputies that came to assist. Scott says Lowrance punched several officers and bit one. At one point in the struggle, Scott says Lowrance smeared peanut butter he had gotten from a meal over his body.


Deputies were able to get Lowrance in cuffs after using a taser on him. He was taken to Kishwaukee Community Hospital for his head injury.


He’s been charged with aggravated resisting a corrections officer, criminal damage to government property and five counts of aggravated battery. Those charges are on top of those he faces from an alleged burglary in Hinckley last month. During his arrest then, police say he fought with deputies and bit one, and broke the windshield of a squad car.


Lawmakers Considering Allowing Smoking Areas in Casinos

A plan to allow Illinois casinos to set up segregated smoking areas passed through a House committee Monday. 


Democratic State Representative Andre Thapedi sponsors the bill, and says the statewide smoking ban that went into effect in 2008 has hurt casino business.  


"The Federal Reserve Bank's researchers opined that Illinois taxpayers lose approximately $200-million in revenue by barring smokers from smoking in Illinois casinos," says Thapedi. 


Opponents of the plan say it isn't fair to exempt casinos from smoking bans, while forcing other businesses like bars and restaurants to adhere to it.  Others say allowing smoking in casinos would compromise public health. 


The measure now moves to the full House for consideration. 


Quinn Believes Veto-Session Won't Go To Waste

Despite a slow start to the legislative fall veto session, Governor Pat Quinn believes there is still time for lawmakers to tend to some of the state's pressing issues.  


"I think a lot of things will happen this week. My goal is to get a lot of things accomplished this week and then next month as well," says Quinn. "There's time for this General Assembly to get a lot of work done and I expect that to happen." 


Possible pieces of legislation that could be considered this week include a plan to legalize civil unions, and another to abolish Illinois' death penalty. 


Quinn says lawmakers will probably wait until next month's lame duck session to consider a possible income tax increase. 


Man Reports Being Attacked by Five Men

A man reported to DeKalb Police that he was attacked by a group men in a robbery attempt.


DeKalb Police say the man reported he was walking in the 500 block of Franklin Street early Thursday morning when he was attacked by five men. The man reported that one of them punched him in the face and demanded money, but he then hit that man in the face with his keys and the group fled.


The alleged victim says he doesn’t know any of the men. Police don’t have any suspects in the attack.



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