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The Majority Report 02/23/18 - Families could report warning signs of gun violence under Senate plan


Morrison: Let people report warning signs of gun violence

Sen. Julie MorrisonA measure advanced by Senate Democrats this week would establish a system for people to report loved ones who appear to pose a risk of resorting to gun violence.

The idea, sponsored by State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield), is that families and police should be empowered to take steps to protect loved ones and the general public before tragedy occurs.

“We know that family members and those close to an individual displaying threatening behavior can be the difference between life and death,” Morrison said. “We need to ensure there are systems in place to respond to these calls for help and step in before a tragedy occurs.”

Called the Lethal Violence Order of Protection Act, the plan would allow a family member or a police officer to alert the courts that a person poses a significant danger of inflicting personal or public harm has access to a firearm. If a judge agrees, that person would have to temporarily turn over any firearms in his or her possession.

Suicides, gang conflicts and mass shootings account for an estimated 30,000 U.S. firearm deaths every year.

“This proposal not only gives families the power to intervene when they see troubling behavior but it also protects the rights of individuals by ensuring due process in the court system,” Morrison said.

The measure passed the Senate Executive Committee. During the hearing, State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) argued against a former NRA lobbyist.

“In order to stem the unacceptable tide of gun violence in our country, we have to attack the problem from every angle,” Raoul said. “Again and again, we hear that there were warning signs before a mass shooting. If we can do even one thing to prevent these tragedies, we absolutely must.”

In the Sun-Times: Harmon: We need change to stop the pervasive threat of gun violence


Marijuana question could appear on 2018 ballot

Sen. Bill CunninghamIllinois voters may get a chance to weigh in on marijuana legalization.

A Senate committee passed legislation that would allow an advisory question to appear on the 2018 ballot asking Illinois voters if they support marijuana legalization.

State Senator Bill Cunningham (D-Chicago), the sponsor of the measure, said the results will help legislators gauge public opinion on the subject. Most states that have legalized recreational use of marijuana have done so through ballot initiatives.

“Marijuana legalization is a complicated and controversial topic that is currently being debated throughout Illinois,” he said. “A referendum could serve an important role in that discussion by allowing legislators to fully understand the public’s opinion of the idea.”

Read more: Senate advances Cunningham measure on marijuana referendum


Steans questions wisdom of cuts during opioid crisis

Sen. Heather Steans, Sen. Elgie R. Sims Jr.As hospitals, police departments, judges, counselors and coroners grapple with an unprecedented opioid abuse crisis in Illinois, Gov. Bruce Rauner wants to slash funding for local mental health services and addiction treatment.

That’s counterintuitive and irresponsible, said State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago).

“At a time when thousands of Illinoisans are dying across the state from the opioid epidemic, I do not believe it is prudent for the governor to cut funding for addiction and mental health services,” she said. “The opioid crisis is a serious and multi-faceted problem that requires substantial funding.”

According to an Illinois Department of Public Health report published in December, nearly 2,000 Illinoisans died from an opioid-related overdose in 2016. Fewer died from homicides or car crashes.

The governor’s budget proposes cutting community mental health services, addiction treatment for Medicaid recipients and addiction prevention services.

Steans noted that access to medical marijuana can reduce reliance on opioids and help stem the abuse and overdose epidemic in Illinois.

“I believe expanding access to cannabis could reduce the negative impacts of the opioid epidemic,” she said. “I think the governor needs to rethink his budget priorities and his policy stance on this issue.”


Black History Month: African-Americans in times of war

Celebrating Black HistoryThis year’s Senate Democratic Black Caucus video commemorates Black History Month by marking 100 years since the end of World War I in 1918 and exploring the theme, “African-Americans in times of war.”

The theme invites people to consider the unique issues African-Americans have faced during periods of war, including the experiences of black veterans when they returned home from the service, opportunities for advancement during wartime and the roles of civil rights and black liberation organizations.

Appearing in the video are Democratic state senators Kimberly Lightford, Maywood; Napoleon Harris, Harvey; Jacqueline Collins, Chicago; Mattie Hunter, Chicago; James F. Clayborne Jr., Belleville; and Elgie Sims Jr., Chicago.


In case you missed it


Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, Shorewood: Bertino-Tarrant, AARP host tax reform event | The Times Weekly, Joliet

Senator Melinda Bush, Grayslake: Measure would allow legislative staff to report harassment | Grayslake Patch

Senator Tom Cullerton, Villa Park: ‘This is an emergency’ | Chicago Tribune

Senator Bill Haine, Alton: Lawmaker rips Rauner on Legionnaires’ response at Quincy veterans home | The Associated Press

Senator Don Harmon, Oak Park: Illinois Democrats pushing for state licensing for gun stores | Chicago Tonight, WTTW-TV

Senator Michael Hastings, Tinley Park: Senate plan would require rear-facing car seats until age 2 | The Associated Press

Senator Emil Jones III, Chicago: Seventeen raps of the gavel | WTAX-AM, Springfield

Senator Andy Manar, Bunker Hill: Opponents: Rauner's insurance changes would hurt state workers, retired teachers | The State Journal-Register, Springfield


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