Iowa and Illinois lawmakers have taken action on a number of important legislation today.
The state legislature has approved an education policy deal that would provide additional school funding. Lawmakers in the state House and Senate approved the plan Wednesday. Republican Rep. Ron Jorgensen, of Sioux City, says the compromise plan would provide more basic school funding for the next academic year, as well as offer dollars to districts that adopt a program to raise minimum teacher pay and offer leadership incentives. Under the plan, Jorgensen says a task force would review teacher evaluations and some restrictions on homeschooling would be lifted. The bill will next move to the governor for approval. Both legislative chambers are in session Wednesday, with hopes of soon concluding the 2013 session.
IA Health Care
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) _ Iowa lawmakers have reached a tentative deal to accept federal funding to provide health care coverage to low-income residents.
Democratic Senate President Pam Jochum, of Dubuque, says the agreement will cover an estimated 150,000 Iowans. Those with incomes up to 100 percent of the poverty line will go on a state-run health plan with benefits similar to those offered state workers. People with incomes from 101 to 138 percent of poverty will get private health plans on the new health care exchanges. Those premiums will be paid for with the federal dollars.
Jochum says the state will need to seek a federal waiver for the plan and will accept federal funding offered to states that expand Medicaid. A spokesman for Gov. Terry Branstad says he supports the deal.
IL Concealed Carry
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) _ Compromise Illinois House legislation to regulate the carrying of concealed weapons would ban guns in parks and on public transportation. Rep. Brandon Phelps filed the legislation Wednesday. An analysis of the bill by The Associated Press shows it would ban weapons in municipal parks and athletic areas. It also would ban firearms on public buses and trains _ a must for most Chicago Democrats fearing a slew of weaponry on public transit. A federal appeals court ruled in December Illinois must allow citizens to carry concealed weapons.
Phelps is a Harrisburg Democrat who opposes too many restrictions. But his own measure failed. He filed the new version after a meeting earlier Wednesday in Speaker Michael Madigan's office.
IL Highway Speed Limit
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) _ Legislation increasing the speed limit on interstate highways in Illinois to 70 mph is headed to Gov. Pat Quinn. The House approved the bill 85-30 Wednesday. The current maximum speed limit is 65 mph. Sponsoring Rep. Jerry Costello II says the bill is good for business. The Smithton Democrat says it will allow companies to move their wares more quickly. Gov. Pat Quinn's Transportation Department opposes the increase. But spokeswoman Brooke Anderson says Quinn will review the bill. House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie says studies show increased speeds result in more crashes and deaths. But a Jacksonville Republican Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer says motorists heading south avoid Illinois, meaning fewer stops for fuel and food.
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