Illinois Public Media News
Groups representing Illinois hospitals and doctors are disappointed by an Illinois Supreme Court ruling involving caps on some medical malpractice lawsuit awards, but trial lawyers are hailing the decision.
A divided court ruled Thursday that limiting non-economic damages in malpractice cases violates the principle of separation of powers in the state's Constitution. The court says limits the Legislature adopted in 2005 would infringe on the judicial branch's power. In a partial dissent, Justice Lloyd Karmeier says it's the court that is violating separation of powers by second-guessing the Legislature's attempts to reduce health care costs.
Illinois State Medical Society President James Milam says he fears doctors in high-risk specialties will leave the state if their medical liability insurance rates go up as a result of the ruling.
Maryjane Wurth is president of the Illinois Hospital Association. She says the court's decision highlights the need for President Barack Obama and Congress to embrace meaningful medical liability reform as part of health care legislation.
Illinois Trial Lawyers Association President Peter Flowers applauds the decision and says it's time to focus on meaningful insurance reform.
Democrat Dan Hynes has conceded in the Illinois primary race for governor, saying he's throwing his support behind Gov. Pat Quinn despite what had often been a contentious battle between them.
Hynes says he called Quinn to congratulate him Thursday morning. Hynes urged people to support Quinn and dismissed their campaign strife as "a spirited discussion about our future.''
Quinn had already declared victory, but Hynes had refused to concede the day after Tuesday's Illinois primary.
Hynes now says all of the votes have been counted and the people have spoken. With all precincts reporting, Quinn held an 8100 vote lead.
A write-in candidate running unopposed in Tuesday's Republican primary appears to have enough votes to challenge Democratic State Senator Mike Frerichs in November.
Al Reynolds of Danville needed a thousand write-in votes to advance to the November ballot in the 52nd Illinois Senate District --- and unofficial tallies show he received 11-hundred-32 ---- 561 votes in Champaign County, 372 votes in Vermilion County and 199 votes in Danville. So, pending formal certification, the 64-year-old retired businessman will run against Mike Frerichs, who was nominated without opposition to run for a second term in the Senate.
Reynolds says the decline of manufacturing in Danville, and the resulting loss of jobs inspired him to run. He says balancing the state budget and lowering taxes is the first step in enticing employers back to Illinois.
"You can't tell people you're going to hire 'em, if there's no place for them to go", says Reynolds. "So we've got to do something to entice business to come, and you can't do that if you're taxing everything. So you're going to have to find some way to cut taxes or give some kind of incentives to businesses (to) start up and hire people."
Reynolds says he believes Republican victories in recent elections are evidence that voters have "had enough of overspending, taxation and corruption in government".
Reynolds organized the East Central Illinois Tea Party in Danville, and says the Tea Party movement was an important supporter in his primary campaign.
It's evaluation time for candidates in yesterday's Illinois primaries, even as we still don't know for sure who will be the Democratic and Republican nominees for governor. University of Illinois political science professor Brian Gaines stayed up late last night along with many other political observers, only to see two dead-heat races with no clear resolution in sight. AM 580's Tom Rogers interviewed him.
There was an upset Tuesday in the only contested Republican county board primary race in Champaign County.
Stephanie Holderfield of Mahomet received 1,349 votes, or 52 percent of Republican ballots cast in District One, to defeat the incumbent, fellow Mahomet resident Chris Doenitz in the GOP primary. Doenitz received 1,231 votes.
Holderfield is a Realtor who's running for office for the first time. She says one of her concerns is the rural land use plan that's been in the works in Champaign County for the past three years.
Holderfield says she wants the plan to be flexible enough so that owners of farmland can sell it for development.
"If you own it, you ought to be able to do what you want with it, within reason", says Holderfield. "Imposing so many restrictions on your land goes against all of your property rights, and I am a property rights advocate."
Holderfield will be running against Democrat Eric Thorsland in November.
In County Board District Six, Michael Richards of Champaign will be running for re-election in November. Richards won the Democratic primary in District Six --- beating out Debby Auble and Joshua Hartke.
But Richards, with 434 votes, came in second to a newcomer. Pattsi Petrie received 523 votes, and will join Richards in running for two available county board seats in District Six. Petrie ran unsuccessfully for the county board in 2008, and says her political platform remains "the macro-issue of sustainability", in its economic, environmental and social dimensions.
Petrie says that includes discouraging urban sprawl in Champaign County. She says she opposes the extension of Olympia Drive through the north end of Urbana, because it would take healthy farmland out of commission.
Andrew Timms won the Republican primary for District 6 without opposition. Republicans could name a 2nd candidate later.
In County Board District 6, which covers parts of Urbana and Urbana Township, James Quisenberry and Christopher Alix won the Democratic primary. Quisenberry led the primary with 810 votes, followed by Alix with 644 votes. They'll face Republican Robert Brunner --- and perhaps a 2nd Republican to be named later.
Also in Tuesday's balloting in Champaign County, voters in Mahomet came out in favor of legalized leaf burning in the village.
Voters approved an advisory referendum in favor of lifting the leaf-burning ban, with 740 "yes" votes --- or 62 percent of the total --- compared to 447 "no" votes.
Two other referenda were defeated in Champaign County.
Voters in the Compromise-Kerr-Harwood multi township assessment district in the northeastern Champaign County rejected a tax increase by a two to one margin ---- 273 "no" votes to 145 "yes" votes..
And nearly 61 percent of voters in Sidney turned down a bond issue request to build a sewage treatment plant. The referendum received 165 "yes" votes and 257 "no" votes.
Gov. Pat Quinn and Comptroller Dan Hynes were in a near-dead heat for the Democratic nomination. With 98 percent of precincts reporting, Quinn had 437,327 votes to Hynes' 432,422.
The Republican contest was similarly close. With 98 percent of precincts reporting, state Sen. Bill Brady had 154,134, or 21 percent, to 152,038, or 20 percent, for Senate colleague Kirk Dillard, and 141,396, or 19 percent, for former GOP state chairman Andy McKenna.
Democrat Alexi Giannoulias has won the chance to defend President Barack Obama's old Senate seat against Republican Mark Kirk.
Democratic voters nominated the Illinois treasurer in Tuesday's primary. With 98 percent of precincts reporting, Giannoulias had 39 percent of the vote.
GOP voters picked the five-term congressman Kirk. With 98 percent of precincts reporting, Kirk had 56 percent of the vote.
Republicans have targeted the seat since then-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was arrested for trying to sell it. Blagojevich later appointed Roland Burris, who didn't run for a full term.
Illinois is being even more closely watched after an upset win by the GOP in Massachusetts that cost Democrats the late Sen. Edward Kennedy's seat.
In the state treasurer's race to replace Giannoulias, his deputy Robin Kelly defeated Justin Oberman for the Democratic nomination. She will face 52nd district Republican State Senator Dan Rutherford in November.
The Urbana City Council approved a ten-thousand-dollar option last (Monday) night to buy the Goodyear Tire Center property on Vine Street downtown. Buying the property would be another step toward the city's acquisition of the entire block for future redevelopment.
The 200 block of South Vine Street lies just north of the Urbana City Building --- the city already owns a parking lot on the block. And Mayor Laurel Prussing says the owners of the Goodyear property approached the city about a possible sale. The mayor says the city's long-term goal is to buy the entire block, and then find a developer for it. Prussing hopes for a mixed-used building on the site, with space for both commercial and residential tenants.
"We should just think about something that's a really green development", says Prussing, "and that fits in with our overall city plan. I think we have to think about what would be the idea height of this project, if we're talking about infill."
But development won't happen right away. The Goodyear Tire Center's lease runs until 2013. And some of the residential properties on the block are also occupied by tenants. Prussing says the city has contracts to eventually buy those properties as well --- but she says she doesn't want to displace any current tenants. The mayor says the city will first do its due diligence on the Goodyear property, including an environmental audit, before the Goodyear purchase is finalized.
A Republican running for governor and a Democratic Senate hopeful both stopped in Champaign Monday, during the last day of campaigning before the Illinois Primary.
Gubernatorial candidate Bill Brady flew into Willard Airport, where he told reporters that his ten-percent across-the-board budget-cutting plans would not result in voter backlash.
Brady's proposals would mean about 75-million dollars less coming to the University of Illinois. But the state senator from Bloomington says the university will have an easier time solving its problems, if state leader live up to their commitments.
"Governor Quinn just recently admitted he spent money that he promised to the U of I", said Brady. "As governor I won't do that. I'll give the U of I a balanced budget that they can count on. Then, we begin building state revenues by partnerships between the University of Illinois and businesses to bring jobs back. It's the job growth and the natural revenue growth associated with the job growth in this state that will give us the resources we need to fund out universities and our schools."
Brady says all state agencies, including the U of I, have to share in getting Illinois' finances back in order.
Brady also cited new poll data, suggesting that he and State Senator Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale are now in a virtual dead heat for the GOP nomination for governor. Brady says his campaign has benefited from negative campaign ads by Dillard and former state GOP Chairman Andy McKenna attacking each other.
The crowded GOP gubernatorial primary also includes businessman Adam Andrzejewski, political commentator Dan Proft and former state Attorney General Jim Ryan. Bob Schillerstrom's name is on the ballot, but the DuPage County Board chairman has dropped out of the race, and is endorsing Ryan.
Later in the day, Democratic Senate Alexi Giannoulias called on his supporters in Champaign last to keep up their efforts through primary election day and beyond.
Giannoulias told about 30 campaign volunteers at the Clybourne tavern in Campustown that these are challenging times, but Americans always stand up to challenges, "and not only have we gotten by, but we've actually thrived." Giannoulias exhorted his supporters to "get to work", promising them that "we're going to kick some butt tomorrow, we're going to kick some butt in November, we're going to make history, and we're going to move this country forward."
Giannoulias declined a meeting with reporters, and spent much of his time at the Clybourne meeting one-on-one with supporters.
Giannoulias is one of four remaining candidates for the Democratic Senate nomination, along with former Chicago Inspector General David Hoffman, Chicago Urbana League President and former NPR executive Cheryle Jackson and radiologist Robert Marshall. A fifth candidate, attorney Jacob Meister, has dropped out of the race, but is endorsing Giannoulias.
Bicyclists in Champaign will get their own lanes on two major north-south arteries if city council members approve.
The city is proposing adding a bike-only lane to State and Randolph streets, from their north ends at Bradley Avenue south to Hessel Boulevard. City planners are holding an open house Monday afternoon at the Champaign Public Library to discuss the plan for the two one-way streets.
Planner Mishauno Woggon is aware of the grumbling that came from some motorists after one of the first high-profile bike lanes was developed along Urbana's Philo Road commercial area. She says the new lane configuration restricted vehicle traffic through what planners call a "road diet."
"With the State and Randolph project there is no lane reduction so there is no road diet as part of this project," Woggon said. "So for drivers they're really not going to notice a difference in terms lof less lanes to drive in or congestion or things like that."
Woggon says in some narrower parts of State and Randolph streets, the bike lanes will be marked as so-called "sharrows," meaning bike and vehicle traffic will share them. The open house at the Champaign Library runs from 4:30 to 6:30.
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