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Quick Hit
by Michael Sandler
11:07am
Fri Jul 12, 2013

Wage Against the Machine: Chicagoans Demand Minimum Wage Increase

On Thursday afternoon, a group of protesters converged outside of the James R. Thompson Center to continue the call for a raise of Illinois’ minimum wage.

At the rally, speakers from policy groups including Stand Up! Chicago, Action Now, and the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability urged state lawmakers and business owners to work together to increase the minimum wage from $8.25 per hour. Illinois’ rate is the fourth-highest in the nation, behind Vermont, Oregon and Washington. Gov. Pat Quinn supports an increase to the minimum wage, calling for 20 percent increase to the wage during his State of the State address in February. Meanwhile, a bill proposed back in 2011 (SB 1565) has yet to be voted on.

The ralliers argued that cost of living increases since the last time Illinois raised its minimum wage — which was phased in from 2006 to 2010 — need to be accounted for. Elizabeth Parisian, policy director for Stand Up! Chicago, said a two-parent, two-child family would have to earn just over $69,000 annually to make ends meet, and a one-parent, one-child household would have to earn just under $49,000 to sustain themselves in the current economy. Parisian said Stand Up! Chicago is asking the state to increase the minimum wage to $10.60 per hour.

“Low wage and minimum wage workers need a raise. And so any effort to bump their pay is good for the economy,” said Parisian, who also argued that workers will spend more if their income levels rise.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
5:45pm
Wed Jun 26, 2013

Emanuel Introduces Assault Weapons Ban, Student Safety Measure At Busy Council Meeting

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel introduced an ordinance at Wednesday’s city council meeting that looks to ban the import, sale, transfer and possession of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines in the city.

The move comes in response to the concealed carry legislation the Illinois General Assembly passed last month that is currently awaiting action from Gov. Pat Quinn.

State lawmakers are required to come up with new legislation by a July 9 deadline following a federal court ruling back in December that struck down Illinois’ concealed carry ban. The deadline was extended from June 9 to July 9 to give Gov. Quinn more time to consider the bill once it passed.

Under the proposed statewide concealed carry legislation, HB 183, sponsored by State Rep. Brandon Phelps (D-Harrisburg), Illinois municipalities will have 10 days after the bill is signed to pass a new or updated assault weapons measure.

The Chicago Police Department is making a “strong effort” to bring down gun-related crimes and violence in the city in part by putting more police on the streets and getting “kids, guns and drugs” off of them, Emanuel said in remarks after the meeting.

“It is essential that we make sure we do everything to bring safety to all our communities and neighborhoods throughout the city,” Emanuel said. “The assault weapon ban, and making sure it’s comprehensive, is part of that overall strategy — bringing safety throughout our streets.”

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
4:43pm
Wed Jun 19, 2013

Report: 1 in 12 Illinois Bridges 'Structurally Deficient'

One in 12 bridges in Illinois is "structurally deficient," which is an increase from two years ago, according to a national report from Transportation for America released Wednesday.

Based on an analysis of the U.S. Department on Transportation's National Bridge Inventory data, the report found that nearly 9 percent of Illinois' bridges are structurally deficient, meaning they require significant repair, maintenance or replacement.

On a daily basis, there are more than 8 million trips taken across Illinois' deficient bridges, according to the report, "The Fix We’re In For 2013."

In general, bridges are designed to last 50 years before major fixes are needed. The average age of Illinois' bridges is 40. Nationally, the average age is 43.

In 10 years, 1 in 4 bridges in the country will be older than 65, which is the average age of structurally deficient bridges, according to the report.

"As more bridges reach the end of their life span, we face a growing liability in Illinois and nationally," said Brian Imus, Illinois PIRG's  state director. "Delays in maintenance increase safety risks and ultimately costs taxpayers. The safest approach we can take to Illinois’ infrastructure is to protect the investments we’ve made with needed upgrades."

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