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.

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Category: In The News

The Lake County News-Sun - Aug. 28, 2015 | Original article

By State Senator Melinda Bush

We have a heroin crisis in this state. Illinoisans are dying of heroin overdoses at twice the rate they were in 1999. Since 2012, in the Chicago suburbs alone, an average of three people have died a day.

This week, Gov. Bruce Rauner issued an amendatory veto of the Heroin Crisis Act, a proposal I supported in the Senate that seeks to address the epidemic of narcotic use in Illinois.

He declined to sign this bill unless the State of Illinois removes investments in treatment for those who need help covering the insurance costs.

As a society, we are coming to grips with the reality that drug addiction is not a war, but a public health concern — that the answer is not brutish incarceration but medical treatment. Substance abuse costs our nation over $600 billion annually, and according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, treatment can reduce these costs far more effectively than incarceration.

A year of methadone treatment costs $4,700 per patient. A year of imprisonment in the State of Illinois costs $38,000. According to conservative estimates, every dollar invested in addiction treatment programs yields a return of $4 to $7 as we prevent drug-related crime. The governor would have us believe that we can't afford to spend money on treatment — the fact is, we can't afford not to.

One of the provisions in the Heroin Crisis Act, Lali's Law, would expand pharmacists' ability to dispense the heroin antidote Narcan. Lali's Law is a direct result of years of work between my office and the bi-partisan Lake County Opioid Initiative, and is an example of the forward-thinking approach we in Lake County are taking to this heroin crisis. Expanded access to a safe and effective heroin antidote will only help save lives.

Gov. Rauner's veto has effectively delayed action on a proposal that passed without opposition in the House and with a strong majority in the Senate; on a solution that every policymaker, every activist, every law enforcement organization and many members of the governor's own party have called for. Instead of having a law that could be addressing this issue now, it could be months before we see one, at a time when people are literally dying each day.

If, like me, you would like to know why Gov. Rauner has declined to act, I urge you to contact him and make your feelings known.

Category: In The News

081815DM0004Lake County News-Sun - Aug. 17, 2015 | Original Article

by Lauren Zumbach

Nykki Harris has two weeks to figure out who will take care of her three week old son before starting a job as a cook and bartender at a golf course.

A few months ago, Harris, a single mom of two from Waukegan, said she would have qualified for a government-subsidized child care program. But cost-cutting measures that took effect in July sharply reduced the amount parents applying to join the Child Care Assistance Program can earn.

Harris said she needs the job to support her family, but she'll be caught between earning too much to qualify for the subsidy, while not earning enough to afford quality child care.

"My cry as a single mother to the government system is to implement something…so parents like myself will be able to go to work, take care of our children, pay our bills, and not just have to be single parents leaning on the state," Harris said at a press conference organized by SEIU Healthcare Illinois, a union representing child care and healthcare workers, State Sen. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake, and State Rep. Rita Mayfield, D-Waukegan.

Bush, Mayfield and area childcare providers urged lawmakers to provide more funding for the Child Care Assistance Program while reversing changes they said would leave 10 percent of families once considered eligible able to qualify.

Previously, a family of three earning about $37,000 a year or less would be eligible, according to the Illinois Department of Human Services. While families already enrolled in the program will continue receiving subsidized childcare, a family of three applying after the changes took effect July 1 wouldn't qualify unless they earned less than about $10,000 a year.

"Basically, if you are working today, you can't even get minimum wage and be able to get help," said Bush, speaking at a Grandwood Park Park District preschool in Gurnee.

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Category: In The News

The Daily Herald - Aug. 3, 2015 | Original article

by Mick Zawislak

The Lake County Forest Preserve District could go to market with a portion of its general office building in Libertyville after a change in state law.

Gov. Bruce Rauner on Friday signed Senate Bill 791, which allows the district to lease or sell all or part of its former Motorola office building at 1899 W. Winchester Road that is not required for its purposes. The forest district is exempt from property taxes and the amendment to the Downstate Forest Preserve District Act will allow it to rent the space to a commercial enterprise that will pay property taxes.

"We may be in here for the very, very long term but if we want to change something in the future, now we have the possibility," said Ty Kovach, the district's executive director.

There have been no conversations with potential tenants, Kovach added, but the goal is to lease the second floor that comprises about 30,000 square feet.

"If we have a resource, we want to maximize the use for it. We went the legislative route so there were no questions," forest board President Ann Maine said.

State Sen. Melinda Bush, a former county board and forest district member, sponsored the bill. She said estimates showed the district could save millions in operating costs and maintenance over 20 years.

"It's a really good savings," Bush said.

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Category: In The News

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