Anti-heroin proposal sent to Gov. Rauner despite uncertain price tag

 
 
Updated 5/30/2015 7:12 PM
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  • State lawmakers have sent DuPage County-inspired anti-heroin legislation to Gov. Bruce Rauner.

    State lawmakers have sent DuPage County-inspired anti-heroin legislation to Gov. Bruce Rauner. Associated Press File Photo

It's now up to Gov. Bruce Rauner to decide whether to sign off on a proposal that supporters say could diminish the suburban heroin abuse epidemic but that would cost the state millions of dollars.

The plan draws from experiences in DuPage County, and in part calls for a wider use of Narcan, a heroin overdose reversal drug. Another main component of the bill is better use of specialized drug courts that focus on rehabilitation instead of the criminal process when it comes to heroin addicts.

State Rep. Lou Lang, a Skokie Democrat, drew up the proposal, which initially faced opposition from doctors, pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies, and state Sen. Dan Kotowski sponsored the proposal in the Senate.

It's unclear whether the governor plans to support the proposal.

"The governor will carefully consider any legislation that crosses his desk," spokeswoman Catherine Kelly said.

The Illinois Senate approved the plan by a 46-4 vote Saturday.

While supporting the goal, state Sen. Matt Murphy, a Palatine Republican, said the price tag is troubling. He said Rauner's administration put the cost as high as $58 million. Kotowski said it would be more like $15 million.

Still, Murphy said, Illinois is broke.

"We don't really have a budget that makes sense right now," said Murphy, who voted "present." "Adding more spending on to a budget that currently is not balanced is not right."

State Sen. Melinda Bush, a Grayslake Democrat, said that even though the state is "strapped for cash, not one more child, not one more adult should lose their lives when there's an antidote out there."

The antidote Bush refers to is Narcan, and under this proposal it would be available to all suburban first responders including police officers and firefighters.

State Sen. Michael Connelly, a Lisle Republican, said he's seen too many kids die of heroin overdose, and no communities are immune.

"This can happen to anyone," Connelly said. "Yes, there are concerns about how we pay for this, how we pay for that. Tell that to the parents in my town, tell that to the parent across the state who's lost their child."

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