Sen. Bush and Chelsea Laliberte testify on legislation before a Senate committeeLake County News-Sun - Sept. 9, 2015 | Original article

By Jim Newton

With a 44-11 vote by the Illinois Senate on Wednesday afternoon, the General Assembly completed an override of a veto by Gov. Bruce Rauner to enact a sweeping set of measures aimed at helping to reduce heroin and opiate addiction.

"I feel shocked and elated," said Chelsea Laliberte, a co-founder of the Lake County Opioid Initiative, a group that includes medical experts, elected officials and residents.

Laliberte, in Springfield for last-minute lobbying and to witness the vote, said the law will "save so many lives."

The state will have $8.5 billion in unpaid bills by the end of the year. Sept. 9, 2015. (CBS Chicago)

"There will be no more delay. This vitally necessary plan to address the heroin crisis in Illinois will be the law of the land," said state Sen. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake, who sponsored a portion of the legislation and voted in favor of the override.

House members had already voted 105-5 on Sept. 1 to override Rauner's veto.

While Rauner had supported many sections of the legislation, in a statement following his amendatory veto last month, the governor said he based his actions on costs associated with treatment services. Rauner said those provisions would be too expensive under the state's current financial situation.

A section of the law dealing with expanded access to naloxone hydrochloride — a medication that counteracts opiate overdoses — are referred to as "Lali's Law" in honor of Alex Laliberte, who died from a 2008 overdose in Buffalo Grove. Bush sponsored that section of the new law.

Chelsea Laliberte, Alex's sister, responded by founding Live4Lali, an organization that remains committed to raising awareness about and access to naloxone. The antidote, which can quickly halt the damaging effects of an overdose, has been credited with saving several lives since December in Lake County.

Laliberte said Rauner's amendments to remove funding for treatment would have gutted the bill.

"The General Assembly made the most important decision of the session," Laliberte said after the override vote. "So many lives are going to be saved because of their efforts and the efforts of those who supported and developed this bill. It's been a long road."

The Lake County Opioid Initiative, which pushed the bill and legislative override, is a task force that has worked locally to help increase distribution of naloxone to police and other public safety officials. The group coordinates opiate abuse education, prevention and treatment.

The "Lali's Law" provisions will allow pharmacies to dispense naloxone.

Rauner had said he supported the Lali's Law portion, but his objections centered on addiction treatment service funding proposals.

A three-fifths supermajority was required by both the House and Senate to override the veto and enact the law.

Prior to the veto, the bill was initially passed by votes of 114-0 in the House and 46-4 in the Senate.

Category: In The News

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