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Harmon seeks to protect wildlife, humans from toxic lead ammunition

Harmon02082017SPRINGFIELD – As the Trump administration rolls back important environmental oversight, such as a ban on the use of lead-based ammunition on federal lands, it will be up to state and local leaders to ensure wildlife, public lands and people continue to be protected, Senator Don Harmon said Thursday.

Harmon is the sponsor of Senate Bill 1985, which would bar the use of lead-based ammunition for hunting in state parks and natural areas in Illinois to curb the accidental poisoning of wildlife.

“I am pleased to help Illinois lead the way on this reasonable and very important public health initiative,” Harmon said. “Research indicates that bans on lead-based ammunition have a positive impact on wildlife and human health.” 

In January, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under the Obama administration outlawed the use of lead ammunition and fishing sinkers on 150 million acres of federal lands, including national parks, wildlife refuges and other public property.

However, the Trump administration overturned the ban last week.

Research shows that a single shotgun pellet can cause organ failure and brain damage that affect an animal’s neuromuscular, auditory and visual responses. Furthermore, there is evidence that lead poisoning causes lethargy, blindness, paralysis of the lungs and intestinal tracts, seizure and death in animals.

An estimated 10 million to 20 million animals are killed every year by ingesting lead shot.

In addition, experts say lead-based ammunition causes elevated lead exposure in gun users and can be incorporated into processed meat for human consumption.

Mulroe: decrease re-arrests by reducing juvenile custody time

mulroe 031617SPRINGFIELD – Senate Bill 1799 introduced by State Senator John G. Mulroe (D-Chicago) seeks to reduce the time juveniles are kept in custody upon arrest to, in turn, decrease the likeliness that a juvenile will be re-arrested later in life. SB 1799 requires juveniles to appear before a judicial officer within 48 hours of being taken into custody, regardless of weekends and court holidays.

“Studies have shown that reducing the amount of time that a juvenile spends in custody will decrease the likeliness that that individual will be arrested again and their likeliness of joining the adult prison population,” Mulroe said. “This is a common sense piece of legislation.”

Under current law, a minor must appear before a judicial officer within 40 hours of detainment, not including weekends or court holidays. To help facilitate the change of including weekends and court holidays, the minor may appear through two way audio-visual communication.

“While working as an assistant state’s attorney, I saw defendants with criminal records extending back to when they were teenagers,” Mulroe said. “Plenty of crime occurs by repeat offenders. This legislation is another approach to curb the rates of re-arrest.”

Martinez plan allows DACA recipients to become pharmacists

martinez 010817SPRINGFIELD — An initiative that would allow Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) recipients, known as dreamers, to become a licensed pharmacist is being sponsored by Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago).

Today, Martinez passed the legislation out of the Senate’s Licensed Activities and Pensions Committee.

“Given the investment we have made in our dreamers, it is only natural to open the gates of opportunity for employment in a career in heavy demand in Illinois,” Martinez said. “These kids have a proven record of academic and personal achievement and are eager to serve their communities. They should be allowed to pursue a career that benefits the health of the public.” 

Senate Bill 308 is an initiative of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational fund (MALDEF).

No other profession regulated by the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation requires proof of immigration status to obtain licensure. Martinez’s legislation simply brings pharmacy in line with requirements for other professions.

Former President Barack Obama’s executive order created DACA. Under DACA, people brought into the country unauthorized as children are allowed to stay in the country to work and attend college.

Koehler pushes for assisted living homestead exemption

koehler 031617SPRINGFIELD – Legislation that would extend the homestead property tax exemption to individuals in assisted living facilities was approved by the Senate Revenue Committee yesterday.

Currently, an individual can be granted the homestead exemption when they become a resident of a nursing home and still own their original place of residence. Senate Bill 1887 would extend that exemption to individuals with disabilities, veterans with disabilities and senior citizens when they move into a Supportive Living Program facility such as an assisted living home.

State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) is the legislation’s sponsor.

“Updating our laws and statutes to reflect the current times is crucial to guaranteeing fairness,” Koehler said. “That is why I believe we should treat individuals in assisted living facilities the same way we treat individuals in nursing homes.”

Senator Koehler previously passed legislation similar to SB 1887 last year that did not pass in the House of Representatives.