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Illinois at 1 p.m.
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CHICAGO — Gov. Pat Quinn's tour of the state Monday to push a program aimed at helping first-time homebuyers quickly turned political as both he and his Republican opponent in the 2014 governor's race wasted no time highlighting themes that promise to come up over and over: wealth and taxes. Quinn is making a series of stops to promote his "Welcome Home Illinois" effort that offers homebuyers $7,500 for a down payment and interest rates as low as 3.75 percent for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. But GOP candidate Bruce Rauner called the effort old news and criticized Quinn for breaking promises on other programs. By Don Babwin. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: 400 words, pursuing photo.
STATE GOVERNMENT & POLITICS
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — A proposal to raise the state fuel tax to fund transportation construction met open opposition Monday after Illinois gas station owners and convenience store retailers said the measure would hurt drivers and businesses during a tough economy. The effort, which is being backed by a state transportation group, would increase the gas tax by 4 cents and raise vehicle register fees to pay for road construction and public transit. By Chacour Koop. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: 400 words, photos. Developing from 1:30 p.m. news conference.
AROUND THE STATE:
ILLINOIS SCHOOLS-TEST FEES
DEKALB, Ill. — Thousands of high school juniors students are preparing for this year's ACT as Illinois lawmakers consider whether to pay for the college readiness exam. Nearly 143,000 Illinois juniors took the test last year, which is free and given to students each April as part of two-day testing that's been a graduation requirement from the state since 2002. But state education officials are now debating whether to pass along the $52.50 exam fees to students and their families as a way to save money. SENT: 330 words.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Illinois transportation officials are adding extra safety precautions to work zones around the state after the speed limit was increased to 70 mph on some highways. The (Springfield) State Journal-Register reported motorists are being warned of construction projects with extra signs, including speed indicators. The placards are also being placed further away from work zones to give drivers an earlier warning. "When you're going 70 mph, people don't realize how far you travel and how quickly," said Priscilla Tobias, the state safety engineer from the Illinois Department of Transportation. SENT: 200 words.
RICHMOND, Va. — Concerns about electronic cigarettes, including flavors and marketing that could appeal to youth underscore the need to regulate the fast-growing industry, according to a Congressional report released Monday. The report written by the staff of Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, California Rep. Henry Waxman and others highlights several issues including the lack of age restrictions and no uniform warning labels for the are battery-powered devices that heat a liquid nicotine solution and create vapor that's inhaled. By Michael Felberbaum. SENT: 400 words.
— DURBIN-ELECTRONIC CIGARETTES: U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin says he plans to discuss a congressional investigation into the marketing of electronic cigarettes.
PLANE DIVERTED-UNRLY PASSENGER
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A California-bound Southwest Airlines flight was diverted to Omaha, Neb. on Sunday after witnesses said a passenger tried to open a door. The captain of the Chicago-to-Sacramento flight landed on Eppley Airfield to "have an unruly passenger removed" before continuing on to Sacramento, the airlines said in a statement. The flight with 5 crew members and 134 passengers arrived safely at its destination about two hours behind schedule. SENT: 230 words.
PERU, Ill. — About the time you start to notice the "first robin of springtime," other telltale signs of the season start to appear. When the mercury rises and the ice recedes, revealing miles of pothole-riddled road, local patching crews hit the streets with stop-gap efforts to make the lanes safer. By 7:45 a.m., Peru's patch crews start their day with "hot box" trailers of warmed cold patch mix and a list of places where holes have caused blowouts, tripped residents or otherwise prompted complaint. Each of Peru's trailers can hold about two tons of patch, and with two crews working, a busy day can mean laying 14 to 16 tons of patch into Peru's roads, according to water department laborer John Birkenbeuel. By Allison Ryan, (LaSalle) News-Tribune. SENT: 700 words, photos.
— FBI DIRECTOR-CHICAGO: The head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation is in Chicago where he'll meet with reporters. UPCOMING: 130 words, more on merits. Developing from 3:30 p.m. event.
— CHICAGO VIOLENCE: Chicago's warmest weekend of the year was also its most violent. SENT: 130 words.
— SODA TAX-GUN CHARGE: Police accuse a Chicago man of pulling out a submachine gun in a convenience store because he didn't want to pay a 22-cent tax on a two-liter bottle of soda. SENT: 130 words.
— TEACHER-CHARGES: A southwestern Illinois teacher is facing charges after authorities say he sexually assaulted two children. SENT: 130 words.
— FATAL ACCIDENT: Authorities say one person died and six others were hurt during a weekend crash near the central Illinois community of Minonk. SENT: 130 words.
— UNIVERSITY STUDENT DEATH: The Cook County medical examiner says a University of Chicago student found dead in his campus dorm room in February died of alcohol poisoning. SENT: 130 words.
— CHICAGO CARDINAL-CANCER: Chicago's archbishop says he's taking steps to protect his health during Holy Week while he continues cancer treatment. SENT: 130 words.
— PLANE CRASH-MEMORIAL: A group in Great Britain plans to erect a memorial to the 11 people who died during a military plane crash just after the end of World War II, including a man from Quincy. SENT: 130 words.
— MADISON COUNTY JAIL-COCAINE: A Mississippi woman is facing charges for allegedly bringing cocaine into an Illinois county jail. SENT: 130 words.
CHICAGO — With Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane expected back from their injuries the Chicago Blackhawks begin their playoff preparations and what they hope will be another Stanley Cup run. The defending champions meet St. Louis Blues, with Game 1 on Thursday. By Andrew Seligman. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos/
ST. LOUIS — Exactly as advertised, Ryan Miller came to the St. Louis Blues and the goals-against went down — until the lineup starting losing bodies. They're hoping to get everybody back sometime the first round of the playoffs, and help make Miller the save machine they traded for again. By R.B. Fallstrom. 650 words, photos.
CHICAGO — Joakim Noah and the Chicago Bulls try to get back to winning when they meet the Orlando Magic in their home finale. The Bulls lost at New York Sunday that snapped a seven-game win streak and knocked them into a tie with Toronto for the third seed in the Eastern Conference. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos. Game starts at 7 p.m. CT.
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