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State

It's Your Business: Rejuvenis medical day spa opens in Champaign

Dr. Ronald Russo, a facial plastic surgeon, has opened a medical day spa called Rejuvenis next to his medical practice offices in Champaign.

Through the spa, he and a nurse esthetician are offering a variety of nonsurgical, cosmetic procedures on an outpatient basis.

Governor against IP legislation

SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Rod Blagojevich said today he would veto any bill that changes the way power rates are set, dealing a significant blow to Exelon's attempt to purchase Illinois Power from Dynegy.

The $2.2 billion deal hinges on early approval of a rate hike for Illinois Power's 700,000 customers that would take effect in 2007. Exelon has reserved the right to back out of the purchase if the increase is not granted.

Exelon bill faces fight next week

SPRINGFIELD – As the General Assembly prepares to return to Springfield for the final week of veto session, Exelon Corp. must convince an increasingly skeptical governor and the General Assembly to pass legislation it says it urgently needs to facilitate its purchase of Illinois Power.

The measure would allow the Illinois Commerce Commission to approve a rate hike now that Illinois Power's 590,000 customers would pay in the four years after the mandatory rate freeze ends Dec. 31, 2006.

Fired up to help

David Pavlik was at his parents' house in Chicago watching CNN when he first saw the destructive wildfires burning down homes and trees in California. In the back of his mind, he remembered wanting to volunteer in New York after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, but the American Red Cross had enough.

"They had an outpouring of volunteers, and they really didn't need me," said the University of Illinois senior. "My cousin was in New York, and I felt so bad for those people. I always regretted not going out there because I know I could have helped in some way. I vowed if some disaster on a national level happened again, I was going to help."

Exelon unveils revised measure

SPRINGFIELD – In response to opposition from Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley and others, Exelon Corp. has dropped its legislative request to set future rates for Commonwealth Edison, but still wants early approval for a rate hike for Illinois Power customers.

Exelon failed to win the necessary support for House Bill 2200 last week, but hopes the dramatically retooled version it released Monday afternoon will help it become law before the six-day veto session ends Nov. 20.

Hospital bed tax falls short in Senate vote

SPRINGFIELD – A plan to institute a tax on occupied hospital beds failed in the Senate on Thursday, but the sponsor used a parliamentary procedure to keep the bill alive for another possible vote.

If enacted, the tax is expected to raise about $500 million from the hospitals, which would allow the state to capture an additional $400 million to $430 million in federal money.

Senate rejects altered prison sales measure

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Senate on Thursday rejected Gov. Rod Blagojevich's attempt to boost state coffers by charging prison inmates higher prices for toiletries, snacks and other goods.

The General Assembly agreed last spring to increase the markup on prison commissary items, but the money was to go to help make those shops self-supporting, said state Sen. Larry Walsh, D-Elwood, who sponsored the bill.

IP bill gets thumbs up from panel

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois Power and Exelon Corp. won the first battle Wednesday in their fight to speed approval of a merger of the two utilities and the rate hike on which that deal hinges.

On a 7-3 vote, a Senate committee approved legislation that would allow the Illinois Commerce Commission to conduct a review of the proposed sale of Illinois Power within nine months, rather than 11, and to set rates now for 2007 through 2010.

State gives I-57 exit plan views

SPRINGFIELD – State transportation officials Tuesday said that Rantoul and Thomasboro will need to clear two more hurdles before a new Interstate 57 interchange can be built.

The Rantoul Area Chamber of Commerce and the village of Rantoul and Thomasboro have been lobbying the state to build an interchange at County Road 2700 E for the last seven years.

Prison employees seek $10.6 million to increase staffing

SPRINGFIELD – Union corrections workers are asking the General Assembly to put more money into this year's budget to ease what they say is a dangerous staffing shortage in Danville and at other state prisons.

"When inmates see that you don't have a full staff in the unit, they know that they can get away with extra things, so there's always that added threat," said Rick Depratt, a correctional officer at the Danville prison for the past 16 years. "We need these facilities brought up to full staffing levels to show these inmates that they are going to be guarded securely. It's not just for our security, it's for theirs, too."