Four questions about the week's big heroin vote answered
Gov. Bruce Rauner's veto of a sweeping anti-heroin proposal could be considered by state lawmakers as early as Wednesday. Here are some answers to key questions about what's happening this week.
What would the proposal do?
It's supposed to be a far-reaching plan to prevent heroin overdoses that have become too prevalent in the suburbs in recent years. Among the ideas: Put a bigger emphasis on treatment in the court system and require police and firefighters to both stock overdose antidotes and be trained in how to use them. Those antidotes have saved dozens of lives across the suburbs in recent years, so lawmakers have put a special emphasis on their use.
What did Rauner do?
The governor supports most of the proposal. But in vetoing it, Rauner says Medicaid shouldn't have to pay for all opioid addiction treatments without certain cost controls in place at a time when the state budget is more in question than usual. "Doctors should be able to work with individuals addicted to opioids to arrive at a reasonable, comprehensive treatment plan," he said. Because of the rewrite of that part, the rest of the legislation is prevented from becoming law, too, at least for now.
What's happening this week?
State Rep. Lou Lang, a Skokie Democrat, says he'll try to start overriding Rauner's veto in the Illinois House Wednesday. If he does, and the Senate follows in later weeks, the whole package becomes law despite the governor's objections. The vote could be delayed, but Lang has been insistent he's going for it. Democrats are being strongly urged to show up at the Capitol Wednesday for a controversial vote on labor union talks, so Lang could try to capitalize on unusually high summer attendance by members of his party. "I would expect attendance to be pretty good that day," he said.
What are the chances?
When the House approved the proposal in May, 114 lawmakers voted for it. Lang needs 71. But Republicans might be inclined to give the legislation a second look despite voting for it earlier as Rauner has had a significant influence over GOP lawmakers this year. Plus, the cost concerns were raised even before Rauner's veto, giving some lawmakers pause. "We don't really have a budget that makes sense right now," state Sen. Matt Murphy, a Palatine Republican, said in May. "Adding more spending on to a budget that currently is not balanced is not right."