The Latest: Illinois Senate approves $38B budget plan - WEEK.com: Peoria-area News, Weather, Sports

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The Latest on action in the Illinois state Capitol (all times local):

8:55 p.m.

The Illinois Senate has approved an annual state budget by an unlikely 56-2 margin.

Debate Wednesday night on the $38.5 billion fiscal blueprint involved mostly Democrats and Republicans congratulating one another for the lack of rancor that has marked budget discussions during the last three years.

Democratic Sen. Andy Manar of Bunker Hill says the proposal is about $1 billion higher than the current budget which expires June 30.

But most spending has been held at the current level and there are decreases in areas such as public safety.

Gov. Bruce Rauner's office made no comment Wednesday as the budget plan became public. It relies on $5 billion in extra revenue from an income tax increase lawmakers approved last summer over Rauner's objections.

The plan moves to the House. The Legislature is scheduled to adjourn Thursday.

The bills are HB109 and HB3342 .

8:30 p.m.

Illinois has become the 37th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The House voted 72-45 Wednesday. The vote came nearly 38 years to the day that supporters thought the amendment was dead because the Illinois Legislature failed to endorse it.

The constitutional amendment regardless of sex. Thirty-eight states must ratify it to make it effective.

Illinois was one of 15 states not to ratify before a congressionally set 1982 deadline. But supporters have argued there's precedent to show that deadlines on constitutional amendments don't apply.

Rep. Lou Lang is the sponsor. The Skokie Democrat says the vote is a historic moment for women across the country.

Opposition during the two-hour debate ranged from concerns over more-accessible abortion to arguments that it would roll back protections for minorities.

The push to ratify took center stage once more after Nevada voted to ratify the amendment last year.

The resolution is SJRCA4 .

8:05 p.m.

The budget plan that Illinois lawmakers are taking up includes hundreds of millions of dollars in savings from voluntary pension trade-offs.

The plans together are estimated to save $445 million in pension payments. The state has a shortfall in all of its retirement programs of $130 billion.

The programs involve trade-offs for state employers or former state workers vested in their pension programs. To varying degrees, they would offer upfront payouts of existing pension value in exchange for lower annual cost-of-living requirements in retirement.

Another plan would require that in the case of a salary spike at retirement of greater than 3 percent, the local employer, not the state, would have to pay the additional pension costs.

The Senate is in session were scheduled to vote on a $38.5 billion spending plan Wednesday night.

7 p.m.

The House has voted to bar tobacco sales to those under age 21 a day after the legislation fell four votes short.

Chicago Democratic Rep. Camille Lilly's plan would prohibit sales of tobacco products to minors. The ban would include e-cigarettes and vaping materials.

It was approved 61-49 and goes to the governor for action.

Lilly says it would reduce teen addiction and saves the state millions of dollars in long-term health care costs.

Republican Rep. Keith Wheeler of Oswego (ahss-WEE'-goh) says teens will just cross state lines to buy cigarettes and cost Illinois tax revenue.

Five states and 14 Illinois cities and counties, including Chicago, have already adopted local ordinances setting the age at 21.

The bill is SB2332

6:50 p.m.

The Illinois House approved a measure allowing police to use drones for monitoring large crowds only days after initially rejecting it.

The 74-35 vote Wednesday came after Chicago Democratic Rep. John D'Amico (dih-MEE'-koh) made changes addressing lawmakers' concerns. The plan is meant to help prevent mass shootings like the one last year at a Las Vegas music festival.

The measure now says police can use drones when a group of more than 1,500 people gather on public property. The drones cannot be equipped with facial recognition technology.

Republican Rep. Steve Andersson of Geneva still opposed the proposal. He says public safety should not trump privacy rights.

The plan goes back to the Senate for approval.

The bill is SB2562 .

5:05 p.m.

An Illinois Senate committee is considering a $38.5 state budget plan.

Democratic Sen. Andy Manar of Bunker Hill says the proposal is about $1 billion higher than the current budget which expires June 30.

Sen. Heather Steans of Chicago is the Democratic chairwoman of a Senate Appropriations committee. She noted the revenue officials expect to come in match spending. She says, "We have a truly balanced budget."

That's unlike past years. Democrats who control the General Assembly and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner were unable to agree on a spending plan for two years. Last year, Democrats pushed through an income-tax increase but Rauner claimed spending still outstripped revenue.

The Legislature is scheduled to adjourn Thursday.

The bills are HB109 and HB3342 .

4:20 p.m.

The Illinois House has sent the governor legislation expanding graduate student unions to include research assistants.

The 66-49 vote Wednesday followed heated discussion on whether research counts as work. State law allows students who work as teaching assistants to unionize but not those who work as research assistants.

Rep. Will Guzzardi is the sponsor. The Chicago Democrat says those who perform academic research are workers and deserve union protections. He adds research assistants often work 40 to 50 hours a week and have no forum to air their grievances.

Republican Rep. Steve Reick (RYK') of Woodstock is against the measure. He says research isn't work because students use it to further their own education.

The legislation follows a two week strike from graduate students at the University of Illinois.

The bill is SB2546

2:40 p.m.

The Illinois House has approved a 72-hour waiting period for delivery of all guns after purchase.

The 72-44 vote Wednesday came on legislation that matches a proposal made two weeks ago by Gov. Bruce Rauner. But the Republican's plan was part of an amendatory veto that includes reinstatement of the death penalty in heinous crimes. Democrats oppose re-establishing capital punishment after abolishing it in 2011.

Rep. Jonathan Carroll's bill changes current law which requires a 72-hour wait for handguns but 24 hours for all other guns. He says there's evidence that someone who wants to harm him- or herself or others has time to cool down if forced to wait three days to get a gun.

The measure returns to the Senate because of changes the House made.

The bill is SB3256 .

1:50 p.m.

The Illinois House has sent the governor a measure raising public school teacher salaries to a minimum of $40,000 a year.

The House voted 65-47 Wednesday to increase minimum full-time teacher salaries over the next five years. Rep. Christian Mitchell is the sponsor. The Chicago Democrat says the measure is a way to attract and keep more teachers in a state that's facing a growing shortage. He adds that teachers in southern Illinois have masters' degrees but still receive poverty wages.

Rep. Jeanne Ives opposes the plan. The Wheaton Republican says that teacher salaries should be negotiated between teacher unions and school districts.

The legislation comes as teachers in states across the country are striking for higher wages among other issues.

The bill is SB2892 .

1:45 p.m.

The Illinois Senate has sent the governor legislation allowing courts to temporarily confiscate guns from people threatening violence.

The Senate voted 43-11 Wednesday.

Democratic Sen. Julie Morrison of Deerfield is the sponsor of what is meant to be a step toward preventing gun violence.

The measure allows family members and local law enforcement to petition a court to suspend a person's gun license for six months. The person must be displaying signs that they're a threat to themselves or others. Weapons would be confiscated and kept with law enforcement.

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has proposed a similar plan in different legislation but it requires a prosecuting attorney to seek a judge's approval.

Rauner's spokeswoman did not immediately return a request for comment.

The bill is HB2354 .

4:35 a.m.

Illinois lawmakers are entering the next-to-last day of their spring session and are optimistic about meeting their deadline for a state budget.

Budget negotiators won't say whether they'll be ready to take action on the spending plan when they convene Wednesday. But they say the operations side of an estimated $39 billion spending plan is in the hands of legislative leaders.

Democratic negotiators say questions remain over a capital construction plan. They are focusing on which projects are priorities and the source of funding.

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's call for a $248 million reconstruction of the Quincy veterans home is still in the mix.

Lawmakers also have a list of other unresolved issues. They include gun restrictions and a reinstatement of the death penalty added to legislation by Rauner.

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