Senate Week in Review: December 11-15, 2017
Waterloo, IL. – Legislative action for 2017 has concluded, but Illinois citizens will begin 2018 with more than 200 new laws taking effect. Many of these new laws help Illinois veterans.
Senate Bill 1238 allows for the expansion of the number of veterans’ courts in the state, which are able to focus directly on the special needs of former and current members of the Armed Services. In some instances, veterans who qualify and successfully comply with court orders are able to receive the treatment they need and have their charges dismissed.
Senate Bill 866 requires the state’s Department of Veterans’ Affairs to give informational resources on service animals to veterans returning from deployment. The legislation was introduced in response to information gathered by the 2015 Veterans’ Suicide Task Force, which found that many veterans do not know about all the services and programs offered to them, especially those pertaining to service animals.
Senate Bill 838 seeks to educate veterans about the importance of early cancer screening, while House Bill 3701 seeks to help current and former members of the military advance their higher education, by requiring public universities and community colleges to form a policy to award appropriate academic credit for the education and training gained during military service.
As the Minority Spokesman on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, I assisted in the movement of these bills. I am also monitoring the problem with Legionnaire's Disease at the Quincy Veterans’ Home that has claimed 13 veterans’ lives in recent years. Our first and foremost priority must be to ensure our veterans receive the best care possible and that they receive it in a healthy environment. While the state continues to look for the source of this outbreak and enact the recommendations provided by the Centers for Disease Control, it is my hope that we remain focused on treating our veterans who have been affected.
Our veterans deserve better than partisan finger-pointing, which doesn’t help solve the problem. I look forward to hearing from the Illinois Department of Veteran’s Affairs in a public forum on how to best to ensure this doesn’t happen again. The committee will likely hold hearings in early January.
Combatting Opioid Abuse
Beginning Jan. 1, 2018, a new law will help deter the practice known as “doctor-shopping” for prescription drugs, by requiring prescribers to check a patient’s prescription history before writing a prescription. Often individuals abusing opioids and other drugs obtain prescriptions from multiple doctors to support their addiction.
Senate Bill 772/PA 100-0564 requires prescribers to check with the Illinois Prescription Monitoring Program, a database that records patients’ prescription histories, before prescribing opioids. The new law will allow doctors to make more informed decisions about care for high-risk patients to ensure physicians aren’t overprescribing—and that the patient isn’t doctor-shopping.
Meanwhile, in the district, we honored some local, high school trapshooting teams with scholarships from the Illinois Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus. Each award is worth $250. These scholarships promote a great sport for our youth, and, at the same time, support the World Shooting and Recreational Complex in Sparta. I also toured the Roeslein Industries Modular Fabrication plant in Red Bud on Friday, Dec. 15 – with Gov. Bruce Rauner – to help highlight manufacturing in Southern Illinois. Prior to that tour, the Governor stopped at Schnickelfritz Bakery, also in Red Bud. I also had the opportunity to attend the Christmas Expo at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds. The DuQuoin State Fairgrounds is one of the region's economic drivers and the Christmas Expo demonstrates the facility's potential.
For a complete rundown of the new laws taking effect on Jan. 1, 2018, click here.