SPRINGFIELD — Seeking to expand the availability of emergency medication that has already saved lives in Lake County, State Sen. Melinda Bush took up legislation that would make opioid antagonist drugs like Narcan available at pharmacies.
 
“Just a few days ago, Mundelein Police saved a man’s life because they were equipped with and trained in the use of naloxone hydrochloride, a drug that counteracts the effects of a narcotic overdose,” the Grayslake Democrat said. “Heroin use, particularly among our youth, has become a serious problem in Lake County and the suburban cities I represent. By making opioid antagonist drugs like Narcan available by prescription at pharmacies, we give families access to a safe, easy-to-use drug that could save lives.”
 
Naloxone hydrochloride, sometimes sold under the brand name “Narcan,” is an opioid antagonist drug. Delivered via a nasal injection, the fast-acting drug blocks the effects of narcotics on the brain. When administered quickly enough, it can counteract the effects of a narcotics overdose. Medical professionals report little to no negative side effects in the event it is used in error. Bush is sponsoring the legislation, crafted by state Sen. Donne Trotter, D-Chicago, as it proceeds to discussion in the Senate Public Health Committee.
 
Eric Guenther, Chief of the Mundelein Police Department, said mere minutes can mean the difference between life and death in the cases of narcotics overdoses that Narcan can prevent.
 
“This is a remarkable drug that is available, and it’s relatively simple,” Guenther said. “It’s been available to citizens in general through not-for-profit agencies for a while and it’s just becoming more mainstream and known. I think it’s good to have those families who know they need it to have it there to save a family member.”
 
Bush said she has heard concerns about the drug’s availability in households possibly enabling narcotic use, but, she said, the potential to save lives can’t be ignored.
 
“People didn’t start driving more recklessly because cars suddenly added seatbelts,” Bush said. “Nobody goes out looking to OD. This just gives a trusted person the ability to save somebody who is overdosing in the precious minutes available.”
 
Guenther said he understands such concerns, but that having Narcan available to those who have been screened and prescribed it could give somebody a second chance.
 
“My response to that is: Look, this is someone’s son, someone’s daughter. If we can give them one more chance at life and one more chance to get it right, aren’t we obligated as public safety professionals to do that?”
 
The legislation is Senate Bill 1466. It proceeds to the Senate Public Health Committee for debate.

Category: Press Releases

SPRINGFIELD — Feb. 17, 2015. State Sen. Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) is sponsoring legislation that will put hard limits on how much public colleges and universities in Illinois can pay to buy out top administrators.
 
The bill is meant to respond to a controversial $750,000 severance package College of DuPage awarded to President Robert Breuder. The award has drawn fire from constituents, lawmakers and the editorial boards of local newspapers.
 
“The frustration my constituents have shown in the wake of College of DuPage’s decision was a call to action for my office, and it should be a wake-up call to our public institutions,” Bush said. “This legislation will bring an end to a form of excess taxpayers can ill afford.”
 
The new legislation caps severance packages at 30 percent of an official’s annual compensation and mandates that a university or college officials’ pension not include any severance package in the final calculation of their compensation.
 
“Families are struggling with the ever-rising price of higher education,” Bush said. “To award nearly $1 million to an official just to quit is more than tone-deaf. It’s irresponsible.”
 
Senate Bill 1291 will be introduced in the Senate and considered in the newly-formed Senate Subcommittee on Executive Compensation.

Category: Press Releases

Review prompted by recent abuses

SPRINGFIELD — In the wake of questionable executive severance deals at state universities and community colleges, the Illinois Senate’s Higher Education Committee is creating a fact-finding subcommittee to steer reform efforts and ensure tuition and tax dollars are used responsibly.

“Taxpayers are demanding to know how we compensate administrators, why we are compensating them and what safeguards we can put in place to end the type of abuses we’ve recently seen,” said Senator Bill Cunningham (D-Chicago), who heads the new Subcommittee on Executive Compensation.

The issue was thrust into the spotlight after the College of DuPage inked a more than $750,000 severance deal with president Robert Breuder to have him quit early. Nearly a year ago, Illinois State University cut a similar deal worth $480,000 with its president. The lavish deals come at a time when tuition and fees have nearly doubled over the past decade and the average Illinois college student is saddled with more than $28,000 in debt.

"This money could be better spent on providing an affordable, world-class college education for students. It could be used to offer much needed tuition relief for families. Taxpayers cannot afford to pay for six-figure golden parachutes, shooting club memberships and other lavish perks for public servants," said state Senator Dan Kotowski, a Park Ridge Democrat who will also serve on the subcommittee.

The fact-finding subcommittee is the latest effort by Senate Democrats to bring accountability to campus spending. In recent weeks, suburban lawmakers have pushed to rein in severance deals.

“The priorities for state universities and community colleges should be to educate our children, not betraying our constituents by handing out golden parachutes to administrators,” said state Senator Tom Cullerton, a Villa Park Democrat. “There is an obvious need for reforms to the way they use taxpayer dollars to ensure institutions are advancing educational opportunities, not administrators’ pockets.”   

Senator Melinda Bush, a Grayslake Democrat, is also sponsoring accountability legislation.

“These institutions should be paying people to teach and lead, not paying them to quit,” said Bush.

Category: Press Releases

SPRINGFIELD – State Sen. Melinda Bush called on Gov. Bruce Rauner to meet lawmakers half way on finding solutions to the problems he brought up in his State of the State address Wednesday.

“I want to work with the governor to find the common ground to solve Illinois’ problems,” Bush said after the speech Wednesday. “To do that, we need specifics.”

Bush urged Gov. Rauner to present a clearer picture in his upcoming budget address.

“I’m interested in the particulars of Gov. Rauner’s plan for the state’s future,” Bush said. “We agree there’s work to be done. It’s time we started to work together to do it.”

Category: Press Releases

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