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We will broadcast special coverage of both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, starting with the RNC tonight at 8.

Morning headlines: Ill. lawmakers approve tax increase, Mo. House to consider drug testing for welfare recipients, surveillance cameras close to being installed in 21st Ward

The Illinois General Assembly has passed a 67 percent income tax increase
(via Flickr/mhowry)
The Illinois General Assembly has passed a 67 percent income tax increase
  • Democratic Illinois lawmakers have approved a 67% income-tax increase in a desperate bid to end the state's crippling budget crisis. Legislative leaders rushed early Wednesday morning to pass the politically risky plan before  new General Assembly was sworn in at noon. The increase now goes to Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn. He supports the plan to temporarily raise the personal tax rate to 5% from the current 3% rate. Corporate taxes also would climb. It's all part of an effort to close a budget hole that could hit $15 billion this year.
  • Missouri House committees are taking up two priorities of the chamber’s Republican leaders.  A House committee scheduled a hearing Wednesday on a bill that would require drug-testing for people who receive cash welfare payments. Another committee will consider legislation offering a $10,000 tax deduction for each full-time job that a small business creates with a salary that matches the county’s average wage. The deduction doubles if the business also pays half of its workers’ health insurance premiums. The drug-testing and business incentives are expected to be the first bills considered by House members in the 2011 session.
  • The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reportsthat the Alderman of the 21st Wardin the city is close to a deal that would install 10 surveillance cameras in an effort to deter crime. Alderman Antonio French said ADT Security Services has been awarded the contract to install the system, which is expected to cost $300 thousand and be paid for with the city capital improvement funds. The St. Louis Police Department is supportive of the effort. According the police department's website, 14 of the city's 130 homicides through November took place in the area. There were also nine rapes, 62 robberies, and 219 aggravated thefts. The cameras could start going up at the end of the month.