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Brandon Phelps
PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
Tue Sep 17, 2013

Proposed Dynegy Coal Pollution Waiver Divides Environmental, Labor Groups At IL Hearing

Environmentalists and labor groups were strongly divided at an Illinois Pollution Control Board (IPCB) hearing in Springfield Tuesday over whether the Texas-based energy company Dynegy should be granted more time to meet the state’s clean air standards for five local coal-fired power plants it plans to buy. Progress Illinois was there for the hearing.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
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 Matthew Blake
Tue Jun 26, 2012

Controversial Tamms Closure A Triumph For Prison Reformers

Governor Pat Quinn’s decision to shutter Tamms Correctional Center, effective August 31, in order to save money is a landmark victory for prison reform advocates who spent a decade fighting to close the facility that has held inmates for years in 24-hour solitary confinement.

“We are ending the era of solitary confinement,” says Laurie Jo Reynolds, an organizer with the Tamms Year Ten coalition, which ran a legislative campaign to close the prison. Reynolds noted that other states, such as Mississippi and Maine, also recently shut down solitary confinement facilities and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) conducted a Senate hearing last week on solitary confinement.

But Quinn’s unilateral action goes against the wishes of the Illinois General Assembly. It also further alienates the governor from AFSCME Council 31, the union representing many of the state’s public employees. The union is steadfastly against the closings and other Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) shut downs, even though the governor’s office says the moves will result in no public employee layoffs.