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This Hour: Latest Illinois news, sports, business and entertainment

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MILLIONAIRES TAX

Illinois to ask voters about taxing millionaires

BERWYN, Ill. (AP) - Gov. Pat Quinn has signed legislation allowing voters to weigh in on whether Illinois millionaires should pay more income tax.

The Democrat signed the proposal Tuesday. It puts a nonbinding resolution on the November ballot to gauge support for tacking a 3 percent surcharge on incomes over $1 million.

House Speaker Michael Madigan - a Chicago Democrat - says it could raise $1 billion for education, or about $550 per student.

Madigan had wanted the idea proposed as a constitutional amendment. But he couldn't garner the 71-vote supermajority it needed in the House to put the amendment before voters.

Critics say it aims to drive Democrats to the polls in a hotly-contested gubernatorial race between Quinn and wealthy Republican businessman Bruce Rauner (ROW'-nur).

QUINN-HIRING LAWSUIT

Lawsuit against Quinn back in court in October

CHICAGO (AP) - A legal battle between an anti-patronage lawyer and Gov. Pat Quinn's administration will return to federal court less than two weeks before voters will decide if they want to re-elect the Chicago Democrat.

Anti-patronage attorney Michael Shakman has - as part of a lawsuit - requested an investigation of hiring in Quinn's Department of Transportation and a monitor to ensure the administration complies with bans on political hiring for nonpolitical jobs. Quinn's attorneys argue the judge should reject the request because it would be detrimental to state officials' duties of hiring workers.

During a brief hearing on Tuesday, Magistrate Judge Sidney I. Schenkier gave attorneys time to file motions and told them to return to court Oct. 22.

Quinn is facing Republican challenger Bruce Rauner in the Nov. 4 election.

ILLINOIS-TRANSGENDER DISCRIMINATION

Illinois warns insurers of discrimination ban

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The state of Illinois has cautioned insurers about discriminating against transgender people.

The Illinois Department of Insurance bulletin issued to insurers this week details nondiscrimination provisions in the federal Affordable Care Act along with Illinois laws.

Backers say the move was prompted by concerns for transgender people's rights, a focus for some gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights advocates after Illinois legalized same-sex marriage this year.

Several other states including Oregon, California, Massachusetts and Vermont have recently issued similar statements to insurers.

The guidance reminds insurers that both excluding and denying coverage based on a person's gender identity are illegal.

However, some question the move. The Illinois Family Institute's Executive Director David Smith says it puts some religious business owners in a position that forces them to compromise their faiths.

ROCK ISLAND COUNTY ALLEGATIONS

Rock Island official wants probe of allegations

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. (AP) - A Rock Island County state's attorney wants Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan to look into allegations of an illegal pension scheme by county officials.

The Rock Island Argus reported Tuesday that Rock Island County State's Attorney John McGehee wants Madigan's office to investigate. In June, he asked Illinois State Police to review claims in a lawsuit brought by a former county employee.

The lawsuit names Phil Banaszek, county board chairman. It was brought by former county human resources director Meg Hoskins who was fired in 2013.

Banaszek didn't return a message seeking comment Tuesday. He's previously declined comment.

Madigan spokeswoman Maura Possley said Tuesday that McGehee contacted the office about an investigation, but officials are awaiting a formal request.

A court hearing in the case is set for September.

CHEMICAL PLANTS

Govt fails to vet chemical plants for terror risk

WASHINGTON (AP) - Congressional investigators say the government has failed to inspect virtually all of the chemical facilities that it considers to be at high risk for a terror attack and has underestimated the threat to densely populated cities.

A yearlong investigation by Republican staff on the Senate Homeland Security Committee paints a picture of inspection delay, government errors in risk assessment and industry loopholes in a $595 million terror prevention program. A copy of the report was obtained by The Associated Press.

The report said the Department of Homeland Security failed to conduct security inspections on 3,972 chemical facilities, or 99 percent of those deemed higher risk.

Roughly half of the higher-risk facilities are in 10 states: California, Texas, Ohio, Illinois, Pennsylvania, New York, North Carolina, Florida, Michigan and New Jersey.

MCDONALD'S-WORKERS

McDonald's: Regulator says it's a 'joint employer'

NEW YORK (AP) - McDonald's Corp. says it has been notified by a labor regulator that it can be named as a "joint employer" for workers in its franchise-owned restaurants.

The decision by the National Labor Relations Board was being closely watched because it could potentially expose McDonald's to liability for the working conditions in its franchisees' stores.

Labor organizers have said McDonald's should be held accountable because the company has so much control in setting operational terms for franchisees.

Heather Smedstad, senior vice president of human resources for McDonald's USA, says the company was notified by the board Tuesday.

Representatives for the National Labor Relations Board and the fast-food workers weren't immediately available for comment.

FATAL FIRE-PHONE

Illinois woman dies retrieving phone from fire

BARTONVILLE, Ill. (AP) - Authorities say a central Illinois woman is dead after running back into her burning home to get her cellphone. A police officer who tried to save her was hospitalized.

Police in Bartonville said the home caught fire around 4 a.m. Tuesday. The woman and her teenage daughter were out of the house but the woman ran back inside. Bartonville is just southwest of Peoria.

Peoria County Coroner Johnna Ingersoll told the Journal Star in Peoria that the woman's identity wasn't yet available.

Police Chief Brian Fengel said officer Salvador Lopez tried to save the woman but was overwhelmed by smoke. Fengel said Lopez is recovering at a local hospital.

The fire is being investigated, though authorities say there doesn't appear to be anything suspicious.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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