Illinois House Approves, 65-50, Rep. Lou Lang’s Illnois Gaming Expansion Plan

(Springfield, IL) – May 31, 2011.The Illinois House yesterday approved, 65-50, a fresh gaming expansion package that will devote more than $1.5 billion of up-front and other fees to pay the state’s backlog of overdue bills, add at least $500 million annually to the state treasury, and create or save 90,000 jobs.

“This revised gaming legislation will critically boost the Illinois economy by creating 50,000 new jobs, saving 40,000 jobs linked to the horse racing industry, and providing more than $1.5 billion to pay the state’s overdue bills, said House Deputy Majority Leader Lou Lang (D-Skokie), chief House sponsor of the legislation.

“These are top priorities for both Governor Pat Quinn and the legislature,” Lang stated.

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Lang Pushes Gaming Plan that Directs $1.5 Billion to Unpaid Bills, Adds at least $500 Million Annually to State Coffers

Illinois House Deputy Majority Leader Lou Lang (D-Skokie)

(Springfield, IL) – May 26, 2011. Illinois House Deputy Majority Leader Lou Lang has introduced a fresh gaming expansion package that will devote more than $1.5 billion of up-front and other fees to pay the state’s backlog of overdue bills, add at least $500 million annually to the state treasury, and create or save 90,000 jobs.

“This revised gaming legislation will critically boost the Illinois economy by creating 50,000 new jobs, saving 40,000 jobs linked to the horse racing industry, and providing more than $1.5 billion to pay the state’s overdue bills, said Lang (D-Skokie), chief House sponsor of the legislation.

“These are top priorities for both Governor Pat Quinn and the legislature,” Lang stated.

The measure, Senate Bill 744, includes five new casinos, including one for the City of Chicago, authorizes slot machines at the state’s six horse racing tracks, creates a “racino” at the Illinois State Fairground in Springfield, and devotes during the next four years an estimated $1.5 billion of anticipated up-front and other fees received by the state to pay past-due debt.

According to an analysis by the Illinois House research and appropriations staff, in addition to the $1.4 billion in one-time fees, approximately $500 million in recurring, annual tax revenue would be generated for the state, which would be split among education, capital funding, and local governments.

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Rep. Lou Lang Pushes New Illinois Gaming Expansion Plan

Illinois House Deputy Majority Leader Lou Lang (D-Skokie)

(Springfield, IL) — State Rep. Lou Lang is putting his cards on the table — again.

Under his new proposal, five casinos would be built, one each in Danville, Rockford, Park City, somewhere in south suburbs and then the city of Chicago. Ten riverboats would expand and horse-race tracks around Chicago would have allow slot machines.

“It’s not about gambling; it’s about economic development and job creation,” said the Democrat from Skokie.

Former state Rep. Bob Molaro, who represents the horse-racing industry, said Lang’s bill has a 50-50 chance of passing, because “the time is now,” and Illinois needs that extra influx of revenue.

“You’re talking about an extra $400 (million) to $500 million just from (a) Chicago (casino) going to the state treasury, education or debt relief — and that’s something that we can’t pass up,” Molaro said.

Chicago’s newly elected Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants a casino in downtown Chicago, as does Gov. Pat Quinn, who said he wants to “invest in education, bring in more revenue and create jobs.”

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GOP Treasurer Rutherford Threatens to Force Illinois to Pay Higher Bond Interest Rates

(Springfield, IL) — Illinois’ treasurer cannot stop lawmakers from borrowing billions to pay the state’s backlog of unpaid bills, but he can make it more expensive — and that’s exactly what Dan Rutherford says  he plans to do.

“You can’t borrow anymore money,” said Rutherford. “And if I need to send letters to the rating companies to tell them the treasurer of Illinois is opposed to any more borrowing, I’ll go ahead and do that.”

Rutherford said alerting national rating agencies and bond houses could make it more expensive for Illinois to borrow. He said hopes that step would give lawmakers pause before asking for a billion dollars.

And while the state’s treasurer can only stop short-term borrowing, lawmakers are maneuvering to pass a measure through the General Assembly that would bypass any authority Rutherford has.

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Video: Lou Lang Says Illlinois House Human Services Budget Protects Vulnerable Illinois Residents

(Springfield, IL) — May 16, 2011. State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Chicago) has welcomed the new Illinois human services budget approved by the Illinois House of Representatives last week.

Lang, a House Deputy Majority Leader, said the $1.2 billion cut to human services program both provides necessary state austerity while securing vital services for vulnerable Illinois citizens.

State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago), the Chair of the House Human Services Appropriations Committee, who drew praise from Lang, speaks about the human service budget cuts.

The House and Senate must reconcile competing Illinois budget versions before sending to Governor Pat Quinn‘s desk.

Chicago Tribune, State Journal-Register, Rockford Register Star Endorse Lou Lang’s Illinois Medical Marijuana Bill

(Chicago, IL) — May 5, 2011. In the past few days, Illinois’ leading newspapers have endorsed Illinois House Deputy Majority Leader Lou Lang‘s bill to legalize medical marijuana in Illinois.

Lang, a Democrat from suburban Skokie, has also won support for the measure from House GOP Leader Tom Cross (R-Owego), giving the legislation an important boost in the lower chamber.

The bill likely faces a vote today, according to Lang.

Here are the editorials:

Chicago Tribune

Therapeutic pot

The Illinois legislature is close to legalizing medical marijuana. Before you scream in protest, or launch into a Cheech and Chong joke, give this some consideration. Illinois could pass a model law for the rest of the country.

The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis act, sponsored by Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie), could pass the House this week, thanks in large part to a change in position by House Republican leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego). The timing may finally be right.

The Senate approved a medical marijuana bill in 2009, but the House narrowly rejected it last January. A revised bill has gained the support of Cross, a former Kendall County prosecutor. He says he’s comfortable with the strict guidelines written into this version.

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Rockford Register Star

Our View: Legislators should vote yes on improved medical pot bill

Illinois lawmakers have crafted a medical marijuana bill that is precise, restrictive and should alleviate concerns of those who worry the drug will fall into the wrong hands.

House Bill 30, the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act, may succeed where other legislation has failed.

Members of the Illinois House are expected to vote on the bill this week. We have supported previous incarnations of this legislation and think this one is the best yet. We hope representatives agree and vote yes.

HB 30 restricts who, how much and where patients can get medical marijuana. It would only be available for people who have debilitating diseases such as HIV/AIDS, cancer and multiple sclerosis and they must have a doctor’s prescription. Prescriptions would need to be renewed every two weeks, and the amount of the drug would be limited to 2.5 ounces.

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State Journal-Register

Our Opinion: OK revised medical marijuana legislation

Supporters of medical marijuana in Illinois got a big boost recently when House Minority Leader Tom Cross came over to their side.

Cross, R-Oswego, was among the 60 representatives on Jan. 6 who helped defeat the last medical marijuana bill, which fell just four votes shy of passage. He says he’ll support a new version of that bill.

We urge Cross’ House colleagues to do the same.

Why the change for Cross? For one thing, the new bill is more restrictive than its predecessor. But Cross also listened to people like Diane Harper of Shorewood, whose husband, Jeff, suffers from lymphoma and found relief from chronic nausea only from smoking marijuana. Jeff’s weight had fallen from 170 pounds to 111 when he began using marijuana to quell nausea. Now he’s up to 149.

“Do you know how sickening it is to tell your kids something they’re not supposed to do is necessary to keep their dad alive?

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