Illinois Senate, House Lack Agreement on Illinois Budget Revenue Estimates

Springfield, IL) — March 31, 2011. A budgetary battle could be brewing in the state Capitol, but not necessarily between Republicans and Democrats.

House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) and House Republican Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) appeared together Wednesday morning to deliver a joint message of fiscal discipline.

Madigan and Cross’ relationship has been cold in the past. It appeared Wednesday, however, that the two have teamed up to start pushing pieces of legislation that could end up being parts of the state’s budget.

The united front in the Illinois House could mean that this year’s budget could pit senators against state representatives, instead of the traditional Democrat vs. Republican.

A recently passed law requires that the Legislature lay out how much money it will have to spend before deciding who gets what. Governor Pat Quinn’s office, the House and the state Senate have all come up with different revenue projections.

Reconciling those, and therefore the different chamber’s budget bills, could be troublesome.

Madigan laid out one possibility Wednesday during the Elementary and Secondary Education Appropriations Committee. When the Senate and the House can’t come to some kind of agreement on a specific bill, five members from each chamber meet and try to hammer out the details in a conference committee.

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Illinois Senate Backs Bill to Ban Alcoholic Energy Drinks in Illinois

(Springfield, IL) — March 31, 2011. The Illinois state senate yesterday approved a measure that would ban the manufacture and sale of alcoholic energy drinks in Illinois, drawing praise from the state’s top substance abuse advocacy group.

Some parents and schools blame the drinks for a number of young people needing medical care and a handful of deaths.

“Alcoholic energy drinks are a menace to youth in Illinois. Manufacturers market these drinks to young people and convey the false impression that caffeine-laced alcohol counteracts the physical impairment of drinking,” said Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association CEO Sara Moscato Howe. “The Senate took an important step to protect lives of Illinois youth and others, and we applaud their action.”

The Senate approved the legislation, sponsored by State Senator Ira Silverstein (D-Chicago), Senate Bill 50, 54-1.

Illinois is the latest state to propose a ban on the drinks, such as the infamous Four Loko. The drink is described as having the caffeine punch of an energy drink and the alcohol impact of a bottle of malt liquor.

“These drinks create a false sense of security and actually encourage youth to drink more,” said Moscato Howe. “Alcohol energy drinks are a public health hazard.”

Four Loko is an Illinois-based company. The FDA is investigating the drinks and the state of Washington has already banned it. The company itself has voluntarily removed caffeine from the drink.

The legislation covers only the manufactured drinks that are sold in single serve cans.

Moscato Howe notes that popular cocktails such as vodka and the energy drink Red Bull are still served in bars across the state.

The measure now moves to the Illinois House. State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) is sponsoring the bill in that chamber.