More than 100 bills, covering a wide variety of issues including disaster relief, heroin trafficking, and more were considered in the Illinois Senate this week. Among the highlights were proposals that would help communities with disaster relief, crack down on heroin trafficking, increase penalties for a new “designer drug,” and a measure that says drivers would no longer have to surrender their driver’s licenses as bail when ticketed for a traffic offense.
Helping Communities: Legislation to aid in disaster recovery efforts sponsored by a bi-partisan group of legislators, including State Senators Bill Brady (R-Bloomington), Sue Rezin (R-Morris), Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) and Sam McCann (R-Carlinville), passed the Illinois Senate this week. Senate Bill 231 allows the Illinois Emergency Management Agency to provide special grants to units of local government, school districts, and community colleges following natural disasters like the tornadoes that tore through central Illinois in November of 2013.
In January the Federal Emergency Management Agency denied a request for aid, saying that the infrastructure damage after the storms was not severe enough to warrant federal assistance for local government. Under SB 231, the state’s Emergency Management Agency would be able to provide state assistance to local governments when there is a state disaster declaration.
Blocking the ‘Heroin Highway’: Cracking down on narcotics trafficking across county or state lines is the intent of legislation to address the growing heroin problem plaguing many suburban communities. Senate Bill 3469 will allow a judge to consider as a factor in sentencing, a defendant’s transportation of controlled substances from one Illinois county to another, or from another state into Illinois.
A Young Adults Heroin Use Task Force created in 2013 to study the problem of heroin abuse has met several times in recent months and is working to implement changes to the law to protect young people.
New Designer Drug: Reports of overdoses and fatalities among young people are associated with the growing use of a new designer drug, 25I-NBOMe (25I). To address the problem, the Senate sent to the House SB 3275, which would add “251” to the list of Schedule 1 controlled substances.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reported at least 19 deaths were tied to 25I between March 2012 and August 2013, and the drug is already considered a Schedule I controlled substance by the federal government. The legislation brings Illinois into line with federal law, placing 25I in the same category as drugs like cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and ecstasy.
Sign and Drive: Senate Bill 2583 would reinstate the practice of allowing persons to simply sign for a traffic ticket, rather than require that persons surrender their driver’s license as a bond when charged with a speeding or other minor traffic offenses.
Illinois is one of only six states which holds a person’s license for a minor traffic offense. Prior to 1986, drivers in Illinois were not required to surrender their licenses for traffic violations.
Enrollment for MAP Grant: Creates a two-year pilot program where there will be a second Monetary Assistance Program (MAP) enrollment period for dislocated workers after the initial suspension date is announced. Dislocated worker is defined as in the federal Workforce Investment Act of 1998.
Information on all bills that passed the Senate can be found on the “Senate Action” page of the Senate Republican website.