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News Around Illinois – December 12, 2019

Many Farmers Celebrate New Trade Agreement

URBANA – Illinois farmers are celebrating a new trade agreement between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada. The USMCA – which was finalized Tuesday — essentially updates the North American Free Trade Agreement and maintains trade relationships with two of Illinois’ main trading partners. Marty Marr is a farmer in New Berlin and grows corn and soybeans. “We were just hoping for a Christmas present like this to come about, and certainly grateful for that,” said Marr. According to the Illinois Corn Growers Association, Canada is the top export market for U.S. ethanol. And about half the corn exported to Mexico is grown in Illinois. The agreement now heads to the US House of Representatives floor, with a vote expected later this month. – Dana Cronin, Illinois Newsroom

Cook County Vacating Past Convictions For Marijuana Possession

CHICAGO – Marijuana will not be legal in Illinois until January 1. But in Cook County’s criminal courthouse, State’s Attorney Kim Foxx filed paperwork Wednesday to erase more than a thousand convictions. She began with cases that had relatively small amount of marijuana — less than 30 grams — and they could not have been tied to violence. For cases not covered by the Cook County state’s attorney, Governor J.B. Pritzker’s office says he’ll issue pardons and authorize expungement of records. The administration says the state police has already combed its files and gotten that process underway. – Brian Mackey, Illinois Public Radio

Immigration Attorneys Urge Caution With New Marijuana Law

CHICAGO  — Legal experts are warning non-citizen immigrants to exercise caution before Illinois legalizes recreational marijuana in a few weeks.  Several groups, including the American Immigration Lawyers Association, say while it’ll be legal in Illinois in January, it’s still banned federally. That means using marijuana, possessing it or profiting from it could lead to deportation or detention. The organizations held a news conference Wednesday in Chicago and plan a related workshop next week. Experts say they’ve seen immigrants denied citizenship elsewhere, including in Colorado, because of work in cannabis-related jobs. – Associated Press

UAW Workers Ratify New Contract With Fiat Chrysler

DETROIT — Unionized workers at Fiat Chrysler have voted overwhelmingly to approve a new four-year contract with the company. The ratification means the United Auto Workers union has settled with all three Detroit automakers.  The union said Wednesday that about 71% of Fiat Chrysler workers voted in favor of the deal. The UAW has about 47,000 members at Fiat Chrysler. The deal includes a $9,000 bonus per worker upon ratification. The company also has promised $4.5 billion worth of new investments in U.S. factories. General Motors workers ratified an agreement in October after a 40-day strike, while Ford Workers settled in November. – Associated Press

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