Yesterday we welcomed guests at the Capitol for Illinois Muslim Action Day. Young people from across the state came to advocate for important issues for and beyond their community, and to learn about being involved in government policy. This annual event is organized by the Council of Islamic Organizations of Chicago (CIOGC). I was happy to meet Nour Abdelsalam from Chicago who is a senior at Islamic Foundation School.

At Islamic Foundation School, Nour was the vice president of National Honor Society and earned several awards from state and regional science fair based on her research. University of Illinois in Chicago bought her
research topic about the effects of microwave radiation on plants, bacteria, and fungus. She also participated in Students for Social Justice, Green Club and was part of the varsity soccer and volleyball teams. At Benedictine University, Nour plans to pursue a major in chemistry and a career in pharmacy. After undergrad, Nour plans to pursue her pharmacy program and attend pharmacy school at Midwestern University.

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04102019CM1053 rSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) passed legislation out of the Senate yesterday that would update Illinois’ suicide prevention strategy.

Steans’ measure requires the Department of Public Health to strengthen efforts to prevent suicide in Illinois. In 2016, suicide caused more deaths in 2016 than homicide, motor vehicle accidents and prevalent diseases like liver disease, hypertension and HIV.

“Each suicide death caused loved ones left behind to wonder if they could have done anything differently,” Steans said. “The state has lagged behind in this area.”

Steans’ measure requires the department, working with the Illinois Suicide Prevention Alliance, to develop recommendations to prevent suicide using evidence based practices and promote any coordinating activity needed to implement them.
Suicide caused nearly 1,500 deaths in Illinois in 2017, the most recent year for which data is available.

In addition to lives lost, suicide has a significant economic impact on Illinois, with each suicide death resulting in more than $1 million in medical costs and work loss costs, according to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

Senate Bill 1425 passed the Senate without opposition and now heads to the House for consideration.

SPRINGFIELD – Lawmakers sponsoring legislation to legalize adult-use cannabis in Illinois released part two of a market study today, this time focusing on policy recommendations and best practices for a prospective legal market.

The study, commissioned by State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) and State Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago), makes recommendations about a prospective legal cannabis system in Illinois, suggests policy alternatives, advises on practices to be avoided and highlights regulatory goals.

It also highlighted the need for Illinois to articulate clearly what should be expected upon legalization and provide the groundwork for the governing body that will oversee the industry.

“It is important that we work together to establish a functional adult-use cannabis market,” said State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, the legislation’s House sponsor. “We’re crafting a governing body, establishing a timeline that works for everyone, and encouraging inter-agency cooperation to ensure that everyone is at the table.”

The study points out that the goal of any legal system should be to provide safe, regulated, consistent cannabis to consumers, while making restorative justice principles a priority, displacing illegal markets, decreasing problems related to substance abuse and maintaining public safety.

“It is important that the policy changes we enact reflect the needs of the people who have been unfairly incarcerated over the years,” said State Senator Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights). “If we are going to move in a positive direction, it is absolutely vital that we learn from our past and do our best to try and remedy the lingering effects our antiquated and harmful policies have had on neighborhoods and communities across the state.”

The study, performed by the consulting firm Freedman & Koski, noted that public policy requirements in laws and regulations can have an impact on attaining the right number and type of licensees capable of producing an adequate amount of cannabis in a cost effective, safe, and timely manner.

“One of our primary goals with creating a legal adult-use cannabis market is to begin righting the wrongs caused by prohibition,” Steans said. “Prohibition does not work. By legalizing adult-use cannabis, we hope to bring existing sales out of the illicit market, providing people with a safe, regulated product.”

The first part of the study, which was released earlier this month, showed that the demand from Illinois consumers would exceed what the state’s existing licensed growers could supply.

The first part of the study can be viewed here: Illinois_WP_DemSnap_022419.pdf.

The second part can be viewed here: 20190311_Illinois_WP_part2_Final.pdf

03142019CM0702 rSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) passed legislation today requiring business, environmental and power agencies to work together to create a plan to make Illinois’ energy industry completely carbon-free by 2030.

“Recent reports from the scientific community show that climate change is an even more pressing issue than we imagined and that we must take immediate action in order to avoid disastrous consequences,” Steans said. “Since the current presidential administration shows little willingness to accept these facts, it is up to individual states to make the change to renewable energy.”

Steans’ measure tasks the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, the Illinois Commerce Commission, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and the Illinois Power Agency to work together to design a policy plan to decarbonize Illinois’ energy sector and phase out polluting power plants over the next decade.

Many electric power plants burn coal, oil or natural gas in order to generate electricity for energy needs, which results in carbon emissions contributing to climate change. Whereas the renewable energy industry, comprising alternative energy and sustainable energy companies, includes carbon free alternatives such as hydroelectric power, wind power and solar power generation.   

This measure is a part of a larger effort by the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition and the Illinois Environmental Council (IEC) to achieve 100 percent renewable energy by 2050.

Senate Bill 2020 passed the Senate Environment and Conservation Committee without opposition today and now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

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