Springfield, IL. – The arctic cold that slammed Illinois didn’t deter Senate lawmakers from meeting as they returned for their second week of session starting Jan. 29. The Senate convened again Jan. 30-31. In this week’s report, a program aimed at helping families save for future college costs could be in deep water; the state starts a new program to provide alternatives top opioid-based prescription drugs and; new legislative measures are introduced that threaten both the Second Amendment and privacy rights of Illinois citizens.
Joint Committee Discusses Future of College Illinois!
A tax-advantaged college savings plan designed to encourage families to set aside funds for future school costs is up for discussion at the Statehouse. A joint hearing before the state Senate Appropriations II and Higher Education committees was held Jan. 29.
Eric Zarnikow of the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISEA) gave a presentation to committee members, outlining the College Illinois! program and sharing what he claims it could need in order to stay afloat. Zarnikow said the unfunded liability by the end of the fiscal year last year was more than $300 million. He believes the state will need to provide $81 million in additional taxpayer dollars before 2026 in order to meet the moral obligation clause.
Opioid Alternative Pilot Program Launches
Individuals looking to reduce dependency on opioids can now register for the Opioid Alternative Pilot Program (OAPP) online through the Illinois Cannabis Tracking System. The OAPP, which is part of the Medical Cannabis Pilot Program (MCPP), was created through the Alternative to Opioids Act of 2018.
The program allows access to medical cannabis for individuals who have or could receive a prescription for opioids as certified by a physician licensed in Illinois. It was designed to provide people with an option to manage their pain. Opioids can be highly addictive in a very short period of time and this program offers qualifying individuals an alternative. Potential participants can register on entellitrak. More information about the OAPP and the MCPP can be found on the Illinois Department of Health website.
Second Amendment and Privacy Rights Under Assault
Some Republican Senators, including myself, are concerned about recently introduced legislation (House Bill 888) that would force law-abiding citizens to give the state access to their personal social media accounts for merely considering exercising their constitutional right to own a firearm.
Also of concern is Senate Bill 107, which calls for a ban on the sale or the unregistered possession of dozens of commonly-owned semi-automatic firearms, dubbed, “assault weapons” by the bill’s sponsor. The Senate bill would also force law-abiding gun owners to pay additional fees and consent to a massive government registry simply for owning these firearms, otherwise risk penalties such as steep fines and hard time. Semi-automatic firearm technology dates back to the late 1800’s. Apparently, numerous types of widely-owned semi-automatic rifles, pistols, and shotguns are included in the bill based solely on their appearance rather than how they function.
Deer Hunting Season Results
Illinois hunters harvested a preliminary total of 151,577 deer during all 2018-2019 archery and firearm seasons, which concluded on Jan. 20, according to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The total preliminary deer harvest for all seasons compares with a total harvest for all seasons of 147,695 deer in 2017-2018.
During the 2018-2019 deer seasons, hunters took 45 percent does and 55 percent males. See the full report and breakdowns at illinois.gov.