Lawmakers seeking changes in budget

SPRINGFIELD – Budget problems, a proposed utility merger, ethics and the death penalty are atop lawmakers' agendas as veto session begins Tuesday in Springfield.

The six-day term, Nov. 4-6 and Nov. 18-20, is meant to deal with the more than 100 vetoes and amendatory vetoes the governor issued since the General Assembly left town in May, but some new legislation may see action as well.

Legislator sends state-funded mailers she once decried

SPRINGFIELD – State Rep. Naomi Jakobsson, D-Urbana, recently sent out a six-page mailer to more than 34,000 residents in her district, touting her actions in the General Assembly this spring and talking about new legislation.

It was paid for by the state, with tax dollars appropriated to each legislator through a district office allowance.

Relaxed weight limit urged

SPRINGFIELD – Farmers should be given a little leeway during harvest time when it comes to truck weight limits, said state Rep. Bill Black, R-Danville.

Black is proposing a new state law barring law enforcement officials from using portable scales to weigh agricultural trucks on non-interstate highways between Sept. 15 and Nov. 30 of each year.

Utility unveils new version of bill

SPRINGFIELD – Late Thursday, Commonwealth Edison released a new version of a fast-track bill the company is pushing in advance of its proposed purchase of Illinois Power.

Exelon Corp. and Dynegy, the parent companies of the two utilities, are in exclusive talks for the sale, which would give ComEd control of 85 percent of the state's electricity market.

Board trustee selection debated

SPRINGFIELD – The governor would have far less latitude in making appointments to the University of Illinois Board of Trustees under legislation state Rep. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, introduced Wednesday.

HB 3874, which would also apply to the state's other public universities, requires the governor to make his board appointments from a list of three choices provided by the school's alumni association.

Bill on utilities still a mystery

SPRINGFIELD – A joint House and Senate committee heard six hours of testimony and debate Tuesday on a controversial fast-track bill Illinois Power and Commonwealth Edison are pushing, but almost no one was aware of exactly what the legislation said.

The utilities surprised lawmakers, critics and even their own supporters with a new version of the measure Tuesday morning that was different than the one they released last week.

IP customers could see higher power bills in 2007

SPRINGFIELD – A rate hike Commonwealth Edison and Illinois Power are seeking could wind up costing the average residential customer about $65 more a year while allowing the companies to rake in an extra $2 billion over four years, Citizens Utility Board said Monday.

The calculations were based on a 9 percent increase, the maximum if ComEd follows through on its announced plan to seek a "single-digit" increase from the Illinois Commerce Commission before finalizing negotiations to purchase Illinois Power.

Wary ICC hopes to avoid 2nd debacle

SPRINGFIELD – For the second time this year, a corporation with a major Illinois presence is asking the General Assembly to exert its influence on the independent body responsible for utility regulation in the state.

Exelon Corp., the parent company of Commonwealth Edison, recently revealed plans to push a fast-track bill through the General Assembly in the six-day veto session that starts Nov. 4.

Exelon makes promises on jobs

SPRINGFIELD – Exelon Corp. has agreed in writing to preserve certain jobs and pension benefits and improve reliability if its proposed purchase of Illinois Power is approved.

Among the company's promises are: a limit on layoffs of no more than 50 people over five years; maintenance of headquarters in Decatur and satellite centers in Danville and Kewanee; and preservation of benefits for Illinois Power workers and retirees.

State accuses marketing firm of local fraud

SHELBYVILLE – Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Universal Adcom, a Texas-based marketing company which allegedly sold advertisements to businesses that were led to believe a portion of the money they spent would be given to local sports teams and civic clubs.

The attorney general's Consumer Fraud Bureau in Springfield has been investigating Universal Adcom since 1996 when the office first started receiving complaints about the company. The office has reviewed a total of 27 complaints. Two complaints were filed by businesses in Vermilion County and one was filed in Champaign County, the attorney general's office said.