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Back to Stories Capitol Briefs for Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Back to Stories Capitol Briefs for Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Liquor home delivery bill passes Senate committee

By Capitol News Illinois staff

Liquor home delivery bill passes Senate committee

SPRINGFIELD – A bill allowing for the home-delivery of liquor passed the Senate Executive Committee Wednesday, with its sponsor promising to bring an amended proposal back for further discussion.

State Sen. Don Harmon’s Senate Bill 54 passed unanimously. Harmon said he was still working with the liquor control commission and other groups to fine-tune the bill before it comes to a vote before the full chamber.

The bill allows retail liquor licensees to deliver alcohol straight to a consumer’s door, provided certain conditions such as age verification and training are met.

“In this new world of innovation where we now are able to order our groceries for delivery, this is an effort to ensure when we order our bread and meat we can also order of bottle of wine,” Harmon, an Oak Park Democrat, said.

Other alcoholic beverages, such as beer and liquor, would be included under the bill as well. The deliverer of the beverages would be required to verify that the person accepting it was of legal drinking age.

The bill also allows the retail licensee to use a third-party facilitator to deliver the beverages, and establishes the cost of a license fee for such a facilitator to be $1,100.

 

Governors push back against Trump plan to slash Great Lakes Restoration funding

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has joined his colleagues in the Great Lakes region to push back against President Donald Trump’s proposal to slash 90 percent of the funding for the federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

That proposal is part of Trump’s $4.7 trillion budget plan for the upcoming federal fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. The budget plan would greatly reduce federal spending on domestic programs while increasing defense spending.

Established in 2010, the GLRI received about $300 million per year in funding through the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA, in turn, distributes the money to other federal, state and local agencies to fund projects aimed at protecting the lakes from toxic substances, invasive species, runoff pollution and habitat degradation.

“Cleaning up the Great Lakes shouldn’t be a partisan issue,” the governors said in a joint statement Wednesday. “We strongly urge President Trump and Vice President Pence, who is a former Great Lakes governor himself, to do what’s best for America by fully restoring funding to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.”

The statement was signed by Democratic Govs. Pritzker; Tony Evers, of Wisconsin; and Tom Wolf, of Pennsylvania; as well as Republican Gov. Mike DeWine, of Ohio.

 

State lawmakers push for mental health reforms

SPRINGFIELD – A group of four Democratic state senators unveiled a slate of legislation they said will increase access to mental health treatment at a press conference Tuesday.

“It’s no secret that we have a societal problem on our hands with the accessibility of mental health treatment,” Tinley Park Sen. Michael Hastings said in a release. “We must make sure those who need help are able to receive it as quickly and safely as possible.” 

The first bill, Senate Bill 35, is sponsored by Grayslake Sen. Melinda Bush. It requires insurers to cover all the costs of mental health treatment, including those for “serious emotional disturbances.” 

Bush said this measure specifically seeks to treat mental conditions in the earliest stages of their development, which private insurers often do not cover.

Senate Bill 1135, sponsored by Oak Park Sen. Don Harmon, lets psychologists with the proper training prescribe mental health treatment. 

Chicago Sen. Robert Peters’ legislation, Senate Bill 1188, mandates that courts can put defendants of misdemeanor cases into diversionary mental health programs, rather than the criminal justice system, if they are deemed unfit for trial. 

Hastings, meanwhile, is sponsoring two bills: Senate Bill 1715, which allows pharmacists with extra training to administer mental health drugs by injection; and Senate Bill 1716, which makes the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services and Medicaid managed care groups cover the costs of prescription medications recognized as treatment in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders.

 

Bipartisan coalition pushes for local government reform

SPRINGFIELD – A bipartisan coalition hosted a Capitol press conference Wednesday to support and highlight legislation aimed at limiting the size, scope and cost of local government.

DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin said Illinois has the second highest property tax rate in the nation and over 7,000 units of local government.

The coalition of local government reform advocates and interest group is known as Transform Illinois.

Democratic state Sens. Suzy Glowiak of Western Springs and Tom Cullerton of Villa Park both spoke in favor of reforms. Cronin said Cullerton’s work in the legislature helped DuPage County cut or consolidate seven units of local government.

Democratic state Rep. Rita Mayfield of Waukegan also spoke on behalf of reforms, especially to school district efficiencies.  

On the Republican side, state Sen. Sue Rezin of Morris said Illinois’ cost for education administrators was up to five times higher than in similarly-sized states, causing Illinois property taxes to skyrocket. Her Senate Bill 1287 would allow voters to decide through referendum if multiple districts should consolidate superintendent offices. That bill is stuck in committee, she said.

State Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, and state Sen. John Curran, R-Downers Grove, also took part in the press conference to support reforms.

 

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