News Around Illinois - February 6, 2020

 
Reginald Hardwick/Illinois Newsroom

Survey: Most Americans Want Changes To US Health Care System

URBANA - More than 90 percent of Americans say changes are needed to make the U.S. health care system more affordable and lower drug costs. That’s according to a new national survey from Public Agenda, USA Today and Ipsos. Chris Jackson is vice president of Ipsos. He says across partisan lines, there’s wide support for better access to care, coverage for people with preexisting conditions, and price transparency from hospitals. "Republicans and Democrats actually have very similar goals, what they want to see the healthcare system achieve. And they also have very, relatively similar ideas in how it should go about doing that," said Ipsos. The survey shows people are divided on the issue of whether to raise taxes and increase the size of government in order to create a better health care system. But Jackson says the findings suggest there’s more common ground on the issue of health care reform than people tend to think. - Christine Herman, Illinois Newsroom

Early Voting In Illinois Primary Begins

URBANA - The Illinois Primary election takes place on March 17. But the casting of ballots begins Thursday, February 6. Under Illinois’ early voting law, voters can cast their ballots up to 40 days before an election, although they won’t be counted until after the polls close on Election Day. Early voters can cast their ballots in person at a county clerk or election authority office, or request a mail-in ballot. Champaign County Clerk Aaron Ammons says he’s counting on about 20 percent of the primary ballots in his county coming in early. He says a strong early voting turnout is not always matched by turnout on Election Day. - Jim Meadows, Illinois Newsroom

Lawmakers Grill State Election Officials Over Voter Registration

SPRINGFIELD - Secretary of State Jesse White and officials from the Illinois State Board of Elections found themselves on the hot seat Wednesday as a panel of lawmakers grilled them on automatic voter registration. State Rep. Chris Welch (D-Hillside), says he’s comfortable with the way White’s team has addressed accidental registration of non-citizens and teens too young to vote, but immigration lawyer Mony Ruiz Velasco disagreed. “We are very concerned because it really harms our immigrant communities when these kinds of things happen," said Ruiz Velasco. "People can be subjected to deportation so we really think the Secretary of State needs to go farther, that what he did wasn’t enough to address to address the possible harm that could come to these families.” State Rep. Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego) offered Velasco a document he said would function as a “pass” to absolve people who were erroneously registered to vote. But Velasco said it needs an official seal, and that people affected need reliable access to the documents. - Olivia Mitchell, NPR Illinois

Emergency Managers Pleading With You To Be Ready for Earthquakes

SPRINGFIELD - February is earthquake preparedness month in Illinois and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency wants residents to be ready. Agency spokesperson Rebecca Clark says it's important to know what to do, even if earthquakes aren't common in the midwest. Clark's number one safety tip for earthquakes is "drop, cover and hold on." If an earthquake occurs, drop to the floor, take cover under a sturdy object like a desk or table, and hold on, even if you have to move with the object. Illinoisans should also take precautions like strapping water heaters and large appliances to walls, anchoring heavy furniture and learning how to shut off their gas, water, and power in an emergency. Click here for more safety information. - Stephanie Whiteside, NPR Illinois

Illinois Tax Amnesty Collects More Than $237M In Back Taxes

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Department of Revenue says it collected more than $237 million in back taxes during a six-week tax amnesty period last fall. That revenue from more than 63,000 delinquent taxpayers exceeded the $175 million that Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration was expecting to help fund the state’s $40 billion budget. Revenue department officials say the final tally could be higher because they're still reviewing some payments. The amnesty period ran from the Oct. 1 to Nov. 15 and allowed qualified taxpayers to avoid paying penalties and interest by paying off outstanding state tax liability incurred between June 30, 2011, and July 1, 2018. - Associated Press

Ban Proposed On Red-Light Cameras, Heart Of Bribery Scheme

SPRINGFIELD — Red-light enforcement cameras would be banned in some suburban Chicago communities under legislation that won House committee approval Wednesday. The measure is sponsored by Rep. David McSweeney (R-Barrington Hills). It would ban photo enforcement of traffic violations in some Chicago suburbs. McSweeney and other critics complain they are unfair revenue-generators. They were spotlighted last week with the guilty pleas of an ex-state senator who admitted taking bribes in part from a red-light vendor in exchange for being a “protector” of the industry in the General Assembly.  - Associated Press

Story source: Illinois Newsroom