In a 44-11 vote Illinois Democrats and Republicans voted Wednesday to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s amendatory veto of a heroin prevention bill which would expand the use of the state’s Medicaid program to pay for methadone, extended treatment plans, and especially the use of Naloxone (Narcan), a drug that would prevent accidental deaths from overdose.
Rauner cited budgetary strains for the Illinois Department of Health, as the reason for his veto, but did praise lawmakers for their care and thought in crafting the bill, which was a bipartisan effort and had original votes of 114-0 in the House, and 46-4 in the Senate.
State Sen. Melinda Bush said, in part, as the movement for an override began, “This comprehensive plan to reduce addiction and death must not be delayed further. I will cast my ‘Yes’ vote to override this veto and make this the law of the land, and I urge all my colleagues in the Senate to do the same.”
Other lawmakers that supported the effort were Sen. Dan Kotowski, who noted that “too many young people have died in our state,” and Sen. Bill Haine, D-Alton, who previously served as Madison County’s prosecutor stated, “As a former state’s attorney, I know the importance of punishing the dealer and treating the addicted,” Haine said. “This law will address the significant increase in heroin and opioid-related deaths and overdoses that has cost Illinois $4 billion. It will help save lives and make sure addicts receive the treatment they need. This override was a necessary step in the effective handling of a statewide issue,” reported the Belleville News Democrat.
The bill which takes effect immediately, will allow first responders to be able to administer Narcan, in an overdose situation; it also creates a heroin and drug prevention education for schools, requires doctors and pharmacies to document when narcotics have been prescribed, increases penalties for fraudulently acquiring a controlled substance, cuts the “one and done” rule for non-violent drug offenders, and requires them to attend drug court, which has been found more effective at treating drug addicts, than jail time.
It also contains a section referred to as “Lali’s Law,” which “would expand access to heroin overdose antidotes at local pharmacies. The law is “named for Alex “Lali” Laliberte, whose sister Chelsea formed the anti-heroin organization Live4Lali after her brother’s death by heroin overdose in 2008.”Elated by the news she said, “So many lives are going to be saved because of their efforts and the efforts of those who supported and developed this bill. It’s been a long road.”
Bush, after the override, also expressed her joy, and remarked, “There will be no more delay. This vitally necessary plan to address the heroin crisis in Illinois will be the law of the land.”