The Illinois House of Representatives advanced several bills Friday dealing with concerns around public health and safety while debating other measures to combat gun violence.
Lawmakers passed a bill expanding insurance coverage for telehealth in a unanimous vote in favor of House bill 3498. The bill requires insurance providers to cover telehealth treatment.
"Over the last year, we’ve seen firsthand evidence telehealth preserves quality and safety, meets individual patient needs, decreases health care disparities, and protects public health," said state Rep. Deb Conroy, D-Villa Park, referencing the increased dependence on telehealth because of the pandemic.
Lawmakers also engaged in a spirited debate over addressing lead water pipes throughout the state. State Rep. Lamont Robinson, Jr., D-Chicago, argued lawmakers cannot wait any longer to address the problem of lead in water and it should have been addressed in the 2019 capital bill.
"This is a safety issue across our state and the time is now to vote yes that way we can put this to bed today," Robinson argued in favor of House bill 3739.
Republicans raised significant concerns about paying for Robinson’s project. Robinson’s first plan is to use federal funds to eliminate lead pipe systems. Should that not happen, municipalities would have until 2027 to figure out a funding source to eliminate lead in the water system. He says the Environmental Protection Agency provides low-interest loans for municipalities. Some Republicans still weren’t convinced.
"Before any funds would be dished out, there has to be an analysis done. Each community is different when it comes to lead," said state Rep. Mark Luft, R-Pekin.
State Rep. Ryan Spain, R-Peoria, said "there are serious issues that still need to be resolved in order to move this forward."
The bill ultimately passed with bipartisan support 76 to 31.
State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, also advanced a significant bill with unanimous support to coordinate mental health services with the 911 system for people suffering a mental health crisis. House bill 2784 was inspired by a 2012 incident in Calumet City in which a police officer shot and killed an autistic teenager after his father called 911 for help dealing with his son who was in crisis.
"When you call 911 for a medical emergency, you appropriately get a medical response. When you call 911 when someone is breaking into your home, you appropriately get a police response. But when you call 911 in a mental health crisis, you don’t get a mental health response," Cassidy said.
Democratic state Rep. Thaddeus Jones, the mayor of Calumet City, said it was one of the "darkest days" in the village’s history and more training needs to be done for police officers responding to mental health emergencies.
Democrats also tried advancing House bill 1092 to better utilize the Firearm Restraining Order Awareness Act from 2019 with the recent memory of a mass shooting at an Indianapolis FedEx facility. The act allows family members to petition a court to remove a gun from someone’s possession if they could be a harm to themselves or others.
State Rep. Denyse Stoneback, D-Skokie, pointed out family members had tried warning authorities about the Indianapolis shooter’s desire to use a gun for self-harm or to harm others, and her bill could help prevent such a tragedy in Illinois.
Stoneback said "this is a bill that will prevent mass shootings, firearm suicides, and firearm-related domestic violence" and would educate people about this tool available in Illinois. For comparison, the 2019 law has been used just 59 times, yet the same policy in Maryland is used 75 times a month. Not everyone in the party was sold, however.
"I will readily admit I have major concerns," said state Rep. Kathleen Willis, D-Northlake, the leader of the 2019 bipartisan bill.
The bill fell one vote short of passing with 59 voting in favor.
House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, cautioned lawmakers to more carefully consider public safety bills before throwing their support behind them without considering consequences.
"We are moving way too fast on some of these public safety issues. We need to act slower on this folks. We are getting into a dangerous area of public safety that is going to continue to be compromised," Durkin said.
Other bills passed by lawmakers include a bill to include suicide prevention hotline and help information on back of student IDs in middle school and high school, a bill requiring health care providers to upload vaccination information into the immunization data registry, and a bill allowing mothers in their third trimester of pregnancy to get disability parking.
All bills passed by the House Friday will move on to the Senate for further amending and consideration.
via Clinton Herald
April 25, 2021 at 04:38PM