After losing daughter, Elmhurst mom helps EpiPen law gain momentum

 
 
Updated 5/12/2016 7:22 PM
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  • Shelly LeGere sits in the Illinois Senate gallery as lawmakers vote to approve legislation named for her daughter, Annie.

    Shelly LeGere sits in the Illinois Senate gallery as lawmakers vote to approve legislation named for her daughter, Annie. Photo courtesy Shelly LeGere

  • Annie LeGere died last year after having a severe allergic reaction.

    Annie LeGere died last year after having a severe allergic reaction. Photo courtesy Shelly LeGere

Shelly LeGere of Elmhurst lost her 13-year-old daughter, Annie, to a sudden allergic reaction less than a year ago.

This week, LeGere watched from seats above the Illinois Senate chambers in Springfield as lawmakers voted to send Gov. Bruce Rauner a proposal named for Annie.

She has spent the months since her daughter's death as an advocate for greater access to epinephrine auto-injectors, most commonly known as EpiPens, so watching the Senate vote board light up with "yes" votes was an emotional experience. She had waited about two hours, unsure if a vote would even happen that day.

"I was a nervous wreck sitting there," LeGere said. "This is one thing I wanted to do for my daughter."

Part of the proposal now awaiting Rauner's review is named the Annie LeGere Law and would allow police to train officers to use epinephrine auto-injectors.

The legislation was carried by Republican state Sen. Chris Nybo of Elmhurst in the Senate and Democratic state Rep. Michelle Mussman of Schaumburg in the House.

Annie LeGere is the niece of Daily Herald Bears writer Bob LeGere.

Repeat trip

LeGere made a trip to Springfield in April to push for the legislation. This time, she traveled with three of Annie's friends.

It was a long, heart-wrenching trip.

"Right now, I feel like I've been hit by a truck," LeGere said.

Lali's Law

And in Congress, the House approved a law named for Alex Laliberte, a Buffalo Grove man who died seven years ago from a heroin overdose.

"Sadly, Alex's life was cut short before he ever had the chance to seek help for his opioid dependency," U.S. Rep. Bob Dold, a Kenilworth Republican, said.

Lali's Law on the federal level provides grants so that naloxone, an opioid antidote, might be more available.

"As a mother who had to bury her beautiful child, I'm thrilled that the necessary steps are being taken to accomplish this," Laliberte's mother, Jody Daitchman, said.

A similar bill passed in the U.S. Senate and the two next will go to a conference committee to be reconciled.

Belated send-off

Also in Springfield, lawmakers were honoring former state Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale, the Regional Transportation Authority chairman who hadn't yet received the traditional retirement resolution from his colleagues.

Nybo replaced Dillard in the Senate.

GOP delegate push

Thursday was the deadline for Republicans to apply to be at-large delegate to the party's summer convention in Cleveland.

At-large delegates will be formally picked at Illinois Republican Party's state convention May 21, and spokesman Aaron DeGroot says "there has been a large amount of interest and many individuals have applied."

Delegates from across the state will pick 12 people who, because of presumptive nominee Donald Trump's primary win here in March, are bound to vote for him on the national convention's first ballot.

Because of Trump's string of big primary wins, talk of a contested convention has mostly died down, and that might make the selection of statewide delegates later this month less dramatic.

A committee led by former party chairman and Rosemont Trustee Jack Dorgan will recommend the 12 delegates and 12 more alternates before the final vote, DeGroot said.

Another honor

The Illinois House voted this week to rename the I-355/I-290 Interchange near Itasca as Trooper John Kugelman Memorial Interchange.

Kugelman was killed in 1986 while "manning a roadblock in order to subdue a parole violator who led police on an 85 mph chase," the resolution honoring him reads.

Taking the money

There's a new wrinkle in the year's ongoing saga over whether Illinois should abolish the lieutenant governor post now held by Evelyn Sanguinetti of Wheaton.

A bid to amend the state constitution fell short earlier this year. Supporters had argued the move would save the state $1.6 million.

A new plan has arisen, though, that would simply take most of the office's money away, leaving $125,000 for Sanguinetti's salary and some basic operations.

The idea takes money from Rauner's deputy at a time when he and Democrats continue to spar over state spending, but it's backed by a bipartisan group of suburban lawmakers.

The plan is from Democratic state Rep. Fred Crespo of Hoffman Estates. Republican Reps. David McSweeney of Barrington Hills and David Harris of Arlington Heights have signed on, as has Democratic state Rep. Jack Franks of Marengo.

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