Vet testimony changed mind on medical pot, Simon says
CHICAGO | Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon said she is in favor of a bill allowing the medical use of marijuana, explaining Sunday that testimony from seriously ill veterans and other patients helped change her mind.
"As a former prosecutor my first reaction was, 'I'm not interesting in changing our laws on medical marijuana,'" she told The Associated Press in an interview Sunday. But she said that after hearing from patients and reading up on the bill, the Carbondale Democrat is convinced the regulations are strict enough.
Backers of the measure, which has cleared the Illinois House and awaits a Senate vote, have said the same thing.
The plan, touted as the strictest in the nation among states that have legalized medical marijuana, would authorize physicians to prescribe marijuana to patients with whom they have an existing relationship and who are living with at least one of more than 30 medical conditions, including cancer.
The proposal also sets a 2.5-ounce limit per patient per purchase and sets out state-regulated dispensaries. Supporters say marijuana can relieve continual pain without the detrimental side effects of prescription drugs.
Simon is weighing a run for another statewide office instead of seeking another term as lieutenant governor.
Senate mulls zero-tolerance for on-duty police alcohol use
SPRINGFIELD | Illinois lawmakers are seeking a zero-tolerance policy for most on-duty police officers when it comes to using alcohol.
The (Bloomington) Pantagraph reports the push follows the findings by a Chicago-based watchdog that there aren't consistent statewide alcohol standards for law enforcement agencies.
The Better Government Association found that some agencies have zero tolerance for alcohol in the bloodstream of on-duty officers, while others allow blood-alcohol levels below the state's legal threshold for drunken driving.
The measure would exempt undercover investigators and alcohol use related to training. The Illinois Fraternal Order of Police Council says cases involving off-duty officers called in to work should be considered.
The bill has been approved by the state House and awaits Senate action.
Retired professor donates $3 million to Eureka College
EUREKA | A retired history professor has given Eureka College $3 million — the largest gift in the school's history.
The school says it will use the money from Richard Sanders to build an addition onto a building that houses science and computer labs and classrooms. The money was announced Saturday at the school's commencement. Eureka College is in Eureka, east of Peoria.
The college will name the addition Sanders Hall. Its total cost is about $5 million. A groundbreaking is planned for May 2014 and it should be completed by May 2015.
Sanders previously donated an undisclosed amount to build the Ivy Hall residence hall atrium lobby. He also has an endowed annual scholarship for history or political science students.
4-fatality fire spawns murder charges in southern Illinois
CHESTER | A man faces four counts of first-degree murder and life in prison on charges related to a house fire that killed four children in the Randolph County community of Percy.
Derrick J. Twardoski was charged Friday afternoon by Randolph County State's Attorney Jeremy Walker in the deaths of Ethan Owen, 12, Kailey Owen, 9, and 5-year-old twins Brandon and Landon Owen.
The children were killed in a house fire authorities believe Twardoski set at about 2 a.m. Friday. He is in custody at the Randolph County Jail in Chester and will have a first court appearance today.
A fifth child, as well as several adults, were able to escape the fire, Walker said, although he did not release the names of survivors over privacy concerns.
A neighbor said the parents went to the hospital with a boy who suffered smoke inhalation. the children's grandmother told neighbors that investigators were looking at arson as a possibility because a gas can was found in the yard and the tires on two vehicles had been slashed.