The Village of Mundelein's police chief, Eric Guenther (R), and the City of Dixon's former police chief and current city manager, Danny Langloss (L), backed the deflection bill at a Senate hearing in Springfield.Chicago Tribune - April 19, 2018 | original article

An Illinois Senate panel has approved a bipartisan plan that authorizes local police departments and community partners to develop local strategies to fight the Illinois opioid crisis.

The Senate Human Services Committee on April 10 voted, 8-0, to advance legislation, Senate Bill 3023, that encourages local law enforcement to "deflect" from criminal arrest individuals who have overdosed or who have substance use problems, directing them instead into substance use disorder treatment.

The "Community-Law Enforcement Partnership for Deflection and Substance Use Disorder Treatment Act," sponsored by State Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) and State Senator Tim Bivins (R-Dixon), provides a "roadmap" for partnerships between law enforcement, substance use treatment providers, and community members to guide the development of deflection programs in their communities, according to one of the bill's chief proponents.

"Traditionally, local police have had two choices when faced with someone who they believe may have a substance use disorder-to arrest or to not arrest," said Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities (TASC) President Pamela Rodriguez. "With the opioid crisis raging across the state, deflection provides a third option, to connect people with community-based substance use treatment services that address their underlying substance use problems. This bill lays out a roadmap to municipalities, offering guidance, program features, and a range of options."

The number of Illinois overdose deaths from all opioids increased by 82% from 2013 to 2016.

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Category: In The News

Senator Melinda BushDaily Herald - March 9, 2018 | original article

By Russell Lissau

State Sen. Melinda Bush of Grayslake is organizing a demonstration at the state Capitol to show unity with students protesting gun violence.

Bush has invited other senators and their staffers to join her in walking out of the Capitol at 10 a.m. Wednesday. That's when students across Illinois and the nation are set to leave their classrooms for 17 minutes, honoring the 17 people killed by a gunman Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Students at Barrington High, Lake Park High, Libertyville High, Stevenson High, Batavia High and Mundelein High are among those planning walkouts Wednesday, March 14.

Administrators at some schools have threatened disciplinary action against students who walk out of classes or leave their buildings. At other schools, however, administrators are supporting the teens' rights to protest and viewing the demonstrations as real-life civics lessons.

Bush said she's met with students from Grayslake and the Round Lake area in recent weeks about gun violence at schools and the planned protests, and she wanted to participate.

"I stand firmly with students who exercise their constitutional right to speak out," Bush said in her invitation, which she shared with the media. "If you have heard these students and believe that we must have honest, bipartisan conversations about gun safety, I am asking you to join me in a show of solidarity."

The state Senate is in session next week. The state House is not.

Category: In The News

Senator Bush speaks on the Senate floorSPRINGFIELD – A measure from Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) to reduce opioid abuse and “doctor shopping” was signed into law today.

Senate Bill 772 requires prescribers of controlled substances to check the Prescription Monitoring Program database to see if a patient has been prescribed a controlled substance by another doctor prior to writing an initial prescription. This would make it harder for individuals to obtain prescriptions from multiple doctors, a practice known as doctor shopping.

“As elected officials, we should be doing everything we can to prevent addiction and reduce opioid abuse,” Bush said. “Requiring doctors to check a patient’s prescription history before prescribing opioids is a simple way to ensure doctors aren’t overprescribing and patients aren’t doctor shopping.”

In 2015, Bush sponsored the legislation that required pharmacies to file daily reports of all controlled substances they dispense. Until now, however, prescribers of controlled substances were not required to check the Prescription Monitoring Program database before writing prescriptions. Studies show that as few as 14 percent of physicians always check the database before prescribing controlled substances.

“This common-sense change has the potential to prevent overdoses, save thousands of lives and advance the shared goal of ending the opioid epidemic,” Bush said. “I look forward to continuing to pass measures that will prevent addiction and help those currently affected by the opioid crisis.”

The law takes effect Jan. 1.

Category: In The News

Zion nuclear storage siteLake County Chronicle - October 10, 2017 | original article

By Gregory Harutunian

Since 1998, when the Zion Nuclear Power Plant was decommissioned, the city has suffered through financial hardships in lost property tax revenues and the stigma of storing hazardous spent nuclear fuel rods on its lakefront.

In March 2016, an intergovernmental agreement was struck between the city, Zion Township, the Zion Park District, the Zion-Benton Township High School District 126, and the Zion-Benton Public Library District seeking the removal of the waste or funding for storage.

At that time, it was disclosed that legislation was being developed to address the issues. The STRANDED (Sensible, Timely Relief for America’s Nuclear Districts’ Economic Development) Act, the proposed legislation, was announced during an Oct. 1 press conference which brought U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, Rep. Brad Schneider (D-10th), state Sen. Melinda Bush (D-31st) and Zion Mayor Al Hill to the plant site.

The pending bill will be introduced in the Senate by Duckworth, and the House by Schneider, although no timetable has been set for submission and consideration.

“It will be presented soon,” said Steve Kirsch, communications director for the Schneider office. “We’re having very productive discussions with Republicans to build bi-partisan support. The legislation is written, and it is aimed at economic relief.”

The bill would provide communities such as Zion with $15 per stored kilogram of stored nuclear waste in the form of impact grants, of which, Zion has 65 casks containing 1,020 metric tons in spent fuel rods that equates to nearly $15 million per year. The bill would also create a task force to identify assets in the designated community, provide incentives such as tax credits for existing “New Markets” credit eligibility, and reviving an expired tax credit for first-time homebuyers purchasing a home there.

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Category: In The News

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