SPRINGFIELD -- A suburban lawmaker's proposal to address the state's heroin problem cleared a hurdle Wednesday when it was approved by a House committee.
State Rep. Sam Yingling, a Round Lake Beach Democrat, told the House panel about heroin's increasing prevalence in the suburbs.
"Shockingly, the 24,360 hospital heroin overdose cases treated by Chicago and suburban hospitals in 2010 is double the number of cases reported in the entire five boroughs of New York City during the same period," Yingling said.
Yingling's proposal would set up a seven-member legislative task force that would hear testimony from experts about how the state can address heroin use by youths.
Before approving the legislation 11-1, members of the committee questioned Yingling about the scope of his plan.
State Rep. Donald Moffitt, a Galesburg Republican, asked Yingling if he would consider expanding the task force's responsibility to include other drugs.
Yingling said because heroin usage is increasing higher than that of other drugs he thinks it needs to be addressed by the task force exclusively. He added that there already is a drug task force.
Bruce Johnson, the CEO of Nicasa, a Lake County-based substance abuse agency, testified about the need for a focus on reducing heroin use.
"In Lake County from 2000 to 2009 there was a 130 percent increase in heroin deaths," Johnson said.
Yingling's proposal could face a vote in the full House in the coming weeks.