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.

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.

03062019CM0998 rSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) spoke at a press conference Wednesday with leaders from the Illinois chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) about her legislation that would develop a new state suicide prevention strategy.

Steans’ measure creates the Office of Suicide Prevention within the Department of Public Health in order to address suicide in Illinois, which 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.”

There is currently no department charged with looking into ways to prevent suicide, which caused nearly 1,500 deaths in Illinois in 2017, the most recent year for which data is available.

Steve Moore, AFSP Illinois Chapter Board co-chair and National Public Policy Council member, joined Senator Steans to discuss best practices to prevent suicide and present an art project depicting the scope of suicides in Illinois.

Throughout the day on Wednesday, advocates at the Capitol placed 1,474 rose petals on an 8-foot poster inside the word “HOPE” as a graphic illustration of the number of Illinois residents lost to suicide.

“AFSP’s advocates have a personal stake in improving Illinois’ suicide prevention efforts,” Moore said.
“They have lost someone to suicide or fought against suicide themselves and want to ensure that others do not have to endure the same experience.”

Senate Bill 1425 has been assigned to the Senate Public Health Committee.

 

foliage 1157792 rSPRINGFIELD – Lawmakers sponsoring legislation to legalize adult-use cannabis in Illinois released a study today showing that demand is likely to far exceed what the state’s existing licensed growers can supply.

The study, commissioned by State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) and State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, found that demand could rise as high as 550,000 pounds of cannabis per year, highlighting the need for Illinois to expand its existing medical cannabis market to both meet demand and to diversify, allowing for the participation of more minority business owners.

“For generations, government policy of mass incarceration increased racial disparities by locking up thousands of individuals for marijuana use or possession,” said State Senator Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights), the legislation’s chief co-sponsor in the Senate. “Now, as we are discussing legalization, it is of the utmost importance that we learn from these mistakes and acknowledge the lingering effects these policies continue to have in neighborhoods across this state. No conversation about legalization can happen absent that conversation.”

The study, performed by the consulting firm Freedman & Koski, examined the current adult-use market in Illinois and concluded that the existing industry could only supply between 35-54 percent of its demand.

“We’re not just trying to add diversity because it looks good. It’s not just diversity for diversity’s sake. It’s for equity’s sake; equity includes economics, it includes criminal justice,” said State Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth, who is the chief co-sponsor of the legislation in the House. “We’re talking about specific communities that need to be made whole. When this is all normal and nice and people are making money, we will not have succeeded if black people and other people of color are shut out.”

A clearer picture of demand also provides a better estimate of revenue; based on the study’s results, Illinois could expect approximately between $440,000 and $670,000 annually, not including the excise tax imposed on cannabis cultivators.

“While we should not expect cannabis sales to be a one-stop solution to Illinois’ financial woes, it is encouraging to see evidence that we are on the brink of establishing a thriving, robust industry to meet the demands of many Illinoisans who have until now been turning to the criminal market,” said Steans, the legislation’s Senate sponsor. “Prohibition does not work, and legalizing adult-use cannabis will bring those sales into the light and meet an obvious demand among the people of our state.”

The study cautions that initial regulatory costs will keep legal prices above illicit market prices, leading some consumers to continue making illegal purchases. Within the first few years, however, initial regulatory costs will decrease; economies of scale will push prices down; and the regulated market will capture or displace the criminal market, according to the report

“It is important that we work together to establish an adult use cannabis market that works for everyone,” said State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, the legislation’s House sponsor. “We’re contemplating additional license categories such as craft cultivation, transportation and processing to ensure that everyone is at the table. These will create space for more innovation and entrepreneurship in the industry, but more importantly, provide opportunity for more diversity in an industry with a pressing need for it.”

The study can be viewed here: Illinois_WP_DemSnap_022419.pdf.

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