News Around Illinois - January 15, 2020

 
Reginald Hardwick/Illinois Newsroom

Today's headlines come from Illinois Public Radio, Illinois Newsroom and the Associated Press. Get news updates from across the state 24/7 at illinoisnewsroom.org.

Pritzker Wants Says Green Energy Laws Should Move Ahead

SPRINGFIELD - Governor JB Pritzker says Illinois needs to move ahead with clean-energy legislation even as one of the state’s biggest utilities remains under a cloud of federal investigation. With the disclosure of federal subpoenas to Commonwealth Edison last year, and federal raids on some of the utility giant’s key lobbyists, backers of energy legislation pumped the brakes. ComEd’s parent company, Exelon, runs several nuclear reactors in Illinois. Pritzker says both companies need to clean up their act. Exelon says it might have to close several nuclear plants without legislation that would effectively let it charge higher rates. - Brian Mackey, Illinois Public Radio

Pritzker Defends Red-Light Cameras

SPRINGFIELD - Governor J.B. Pritzker is defending the value of red-light cameras. It comes as federal investigators have been looking at ties between the industry and certain towns. Comptroller Susana Mendoza recently announced her office would stop helping municipalities collect red-light fines, citing the investigations. But Pritzker says he’s heard from “many law enforcement and public safety officials” who say there are benefits to the cameras. Mendoza also pointed to news reports saying the tickets disproportionately affect minority and low-income drivers. On that point, Pritzker seems to agree. He says no one should lose their livelihood for being unable to pay a relatively low-stakes fine. - Brian Mackey, Illinois Public Radio

U Of I President Being Offered Contract Extension, Pay Raise

CHICAGO — University of Illinois President Tim Killeen is being offered a new contract that would extend his tenure four years and hike his annual compensation by about 40%, officials revealed Tuesday. The contract would extend Killeen’s presidency to 2024. His base pay would increase from $600,000 to $835,000. Officials note that since Killeen became president in 2015, enrollment at the university system’s campuses in Urbana-Champaign, Springfield and Chicago has increased 9.5% to 89,270 last fall. Much of the enrollment increase has occurred at the university’s Chicago campus, which has seen a nearly 15% increase in four years. Enrollment at the flagship campus in Urbana-Champaign has increased 10% since 2016, while Springfield has seen enrollment drop from 5,400 students in 2016 to 4,300 last fall. - Associated Press

Treasurer Wants To Change Cash-Only Cannabis Sales

URBANA - Whether it’s for medicinal or recreational use, Illinois’ cannabis industry operates on a cash-only basis. A bill in Congress could change that, but only if it gets a vote in the Senate. The cash-only transactions are because banks won’t deal with cannabis businesses.  Illinois Treasurer Mike Frerichs said the federal ban on cannabis means banks fear prosecution if they give a business that grows or sell cannabis so much as a checking account. A bill allowing banks to serve cannabis businesses if they’re legal at the state level passed the U.S. House last September, with the support of nearly all Democrats and 91 Republicans. Frerichs says it might pass in the Senate, too, But Republican Leader Mitch McConnell won’t allow a vote. - Jim Meadows, Illinois Newsroom

Ex-priest Gets 9-Year Prison Sentence For Child Pornography

BELLEVILLE — A former southern Illinois priest who pleaded guilty last year to distributing child pornography and processing methamphetamine has received a nine-year prison sentence. Gerald Hechenberger, who formerly pastored Holy Childhood Catholic Church in Mascoutah, was sentenced Tuesday in St. Clair County Circuit Court. He was arrested at the church in January 2018 after police received a tip from the organization Internet Crimes Against Children. He was stripped of his priestly duties within days of his arrest. - Associated Press

Story source: Illinois Public Radio