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New law prohibits minors from possessing e-cigarettes, other nicotine products

morrison ecig 0216SPRINGFIELD – A new law that prohibits minors from possessing e-cigarettes and other tobacco-free nicotine products was signed on Friday by the governor. State Senator Julie Morrison (D – Deerfield) introduced the proposal last year in hopes of updating Illinois law to protect children from the dangers of this increasingly popular product.  

“Current Illinois law prohibits the selling of these products to kids,” Morrison said. “It only makes sense that they should also be prohibited from being in their possession.”

In Illinois, it is already illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to possess cigarettes, cigars and all other forms of tobacco. The penalty for the first violation is a fine of $25 or 15 hours of community service, and the maximum penalty for repeated violations is a fine of $100 and 30 hours of community service.

Morrison's plan would impose the same penalties for the possession of e-cigarettes and other alternative nicotine products.

While e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco, they still pose potential health risks, especially for minors. Nicotine, an addictive chemical, can affect fetal brain development and can alter growth and function of the nervous system. The long-term health effects of e-cigarettes have not yet been thoroughly evaluated.

Caffeine powder ban set to become effective

caffeine powderPLAINFIELD— It will soon be illegal for toxic caffeine powder to be sold to anyone under age 18 in Illinois.

The new law was sponsored by State Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) in response to the death of 18-year-old Logan Stiner of Ohio from a caffeine powder overdose.

According to local reports, Stiner was found by his brother, collapsed on the floor of his home. The same day his brother found him, his mother discovered several bags of caffeine powder in their house. Sadly, Stiner, a popular student-athlete, was one week away from graduating from high school.

The county coroner’s report said that Stiner suffered cardiac arrhythmia and a seizure as a result of ingesting toxic amounts of caffeine. One teaspoon of the powder is equal to drinking approximately 25 cups of coffee.

In order to prevent a death like Stiner’s from occurring in Illinois, Bertino-Tarrant championed the new law making it illegal for toxic caffeine powder to be sold to anyone under age 18.

“Logan Stiner’s death was a tragedy, and I wanted to be proactive about preventing minors in Illinois from being able to use a substance that, by simple mistake, could be deadly,” Bertino-Tarrant said.

Powdered caffeine is nearly 100 percent pure caffeine and difficult to measure with common kitchen tools.

Senate Bill 9 is effective Jan. 1, 2016.

Lame-duck appointments ban becomes law

morrison biz license webSPRINGFIELD – A law to prevent future governors from engaging in last-minute patronage takes effect today.

State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield) introduced the proposal after former Gov. Pat Quinn appointed a political operative to a $160,000-per-year state job at the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority a month after he lost his election last year.

Her plan affects any director appointed to a governor-controlled board or commission after the governor loses an election. They will be limited to 60 days in the position, allowing the newly elected governor to find the best person for the position. Morrison’s legislation extends beyond the ISFA to include similar government organizations.

“People are sick and tired of Illinois public officials abusing their positions,” Morrison said. “We shouldn’t need this law, but Gov. Quinn made it clear that we do. Fortunately, now this loophole is closed forever.”

The Illinois Sports Finance Authority – a government entity – owns U.S. Cellular Field, home of the White Sox, and provided the majority of the financing for the renovation of the Bears’ Soldier Field. It receives subsidies from the state and the city of Chicago, income from the White Sox rental agreement, and revenue from a 2 percent tax on all hotel rentals in Chicago.

The legislation was originally House Bill 4078.

Morrison transparency law will force big political spenders to come clean

morrison transp finalSPRINGFIELD – A new law sponsored by state Senator Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield) will let the people see who’s really paying for political campaigns, shining a light on those trying to buy influence at the state Capitol.

It requires political organizations that make independent expenditures – buying ads or paying for commercials on candidates’ behalf without their explicit permission – to report how much money they spend and how they spend it.

Any time a political action committee or some other person or organization spends more than $1,000 on a candidate, it will be required to report its actions to the State Board of Elections within five days. In the two months leading up to the election, they will have to report expenses within two days.

“The people deserve to know which people and businesses are trying to influence elections and politicians,” Morrison said. “They shouldn’t be able to hide behind ‘independent spending’ and bypass our campaign finance laws.”

According to the Campaign for Political Reform, which worked with Morrison to introduce the law, there were nearly $2.3 million in independent expenditures in 2011-2012. In 2013-2014, when the governor’s race was on the ballot, Illinois saw more than $18 million in independent expenditures. Even when you take out spending on the governor’s race, independent expenditures increased by nearly 60 percent, going from $2.3 million to $3.6 million.

The law was Senate Bill 248. It takes effect January 1, so it will apply to the 2016 election.

Sen. Julie Morrison

morrison 150

29th Legislative District

Years served: 2013 - Present

Committee assignments: Environment and Conservation; Human Services (Vice-Chairperson); Education; Committee of the Whole; Commerce and Economic Development; Transportation.

Biography: Born in Beardstown; received a bachelor's degree from Knox College; served as supervisor of West Deerfield Township, married to husband Joe with three grown children.

Associated Representative(s): Elaine Nekritz, Scott Drury