Lang, Schakowsky–Despite Battered Limbs–Limp, Not March–in Skokie July 4th Parade

(Skokie, IL) — Despite battered limbs, State Representative Lou Lang (D-Skokie) and U.S.

State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) and U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Evanston)

State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) and U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Evanston)

Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-Evanston) still participated in Skokie’s 4th of July parade–limping rather than marching in the village’s annual Independence Day event.

Lang had torn a leg muscle and Schakowsky had broken her ankle during a tour of the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The parade began on Oakton Street at the Oakton Community College parking lot, heading east from Downtown Skokie to Oakton Park.

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Lang Hopefull on Illinois Medical Marijuana Approval

(Springfield, IL) — The Illinois medical marijuana bill did not come to a vote in the Illinois House before Illinois General Assembly’s spring legislative deadline expired on May 31, but House sponsor State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) remains hopeful.

The legislation, Senate Bill 1381, passed both the Senate 30-28 and the House Human Services Committee 4-3

State Senator Bill Haine (D-Alton), left, State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie)

State Senator Bill Haine (D-Alton), left, State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie)

last week, but still lacked enough votes in the full House.

“Although (the) top priority was the tax bill, I think the time has come for Illinois to enact a medical marijuana law. We just need to shore up a few votes before calling this bill to the floor,” said Lang, a Deputy Majority Leader and chief House sponsor of the plan.

State Senator William Haine (D-Alton) sponsored the bill in the Senate.

“It was dramatic that the bill got out of the Senate,” Haine said in an interview with the Alton Telegraph. “We had a busy spring. This bill was one of hundreds. It had one of the highest profiles because it surrounded the whole debate on drugs and marijuana and came with a lot of baggage.”

Lawmakers retun to Springfield for the veto session in the fall.

Other legislative sponsors:

State Senators: Iris Martinez, Jeff Schoenberg, Donne Trotter, Kwame Raoul and Linda Holmes.

State Representatives: Angelo Saviano, John Fritchey, and Karen Yarbrough.

Lou Lang Says Illinois Casino Expansion Bill Has “Flaws that Are Fixable”

(Springfield, IL) — A gambling expansion plan – including slots at horse tracks and four new casinos – pushed through the Illinois Senate by State Senator Terry Link (D-Vernon Hills)–stalled in the Illinois House, but the plan is “fixable” according to State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie).

Lang, a Deputy House Majority Leader, oversees gaming in the House, said there are provisions he called

House Speaker Michael Madigan

House Speaker Michael Madigan

“problematic.”

“There are flaws that are fixable, but they were unfixable before the deadline,” Lang said. “I think this can be win-win, just not yet.”

The Link bill proposes four new casinos in Chicago, Park City, Rockford and Danville; increasing gambling positions at existing casinos from 1,200 to 2,000; and permit riverboats to become land-based.

“I think naming specific communities is problematic, although I actually personally support the communities he named in the bill. But in terms of passing the bill out of the House, it would be better to have a more general approach,” Lang said.

Link’s bill would also allow existing Illinois casinos to operate slot machines at horse tracks.

“I think if we’re going to help the racetracks, we ought to help the racetracks. We ought to give them their opportunity to get a few bucks out of this to save the 40,000 jobs in the horse-racing industry,” Lang said. “The way the slot machines at the racetrack are treated, I would treat them differently.”

Passing legislation after May 31 requires 3/5th of lawmakers in both chambers. After January 1, only a majority will be necessary.

“Speaker Michael Madigan has staked out a position opposed to gambling, and even though I support gaming expansion, while I’m on his leadership team, I support the Speaker’s position,” Lang said.

“That said, I don’t support everything in Senator Link’s bill and I’m sure he and I could work out our differences, but until and unless the Speaker decides we’re going to take a look at this probably nothing will happen.”

Lang Helps Make Illinois Government Information Easier to Get, Confident Quinn Would Sign Law

(Springfield, IL) — Illinois state government bureaucracy would need to make government information more accessible to taxpayers under legislation the Illinois House approved Wednesday.

House legislators voted 116-0 to reform the Illinois Freedom of Information Act.

State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie)

State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie)

The bill, sponsored by State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie), requires state agencies to respond to requests for documents more quickly. It also assigns responsibility to Illinois Attorney General for ruling on and mediating disputes between citizens and bureaucrats, giving the Attorney General power to impose civil penalties on bureaucrats who deliberately ignore the law.

“In an effort to clean up in the wake of Rod Blagojevich, it’s important that we take this step to let people know we’re as serious about reform as we told them we would be,” said Lang, a Deputy House Majority Leader.

The legislation now moves to the state Senate. If approved by the Senate, Lang is confident Governor Pat Quinn will sign the measure.

“As a champion of Freedom of Information Act reform, I am confident Governor Quinn would sign this bill into law if it reaches his desk,” said Lang.

The General Assembly is schduled to adjourn on May 31.

Lou Lang Wins Passage of $29 Billion State Construction Program to Fix Roads, Schools, Bridges, Parks, Mass Transit

(Springfield, IL) — The Illinois House on Thursday approved a $29 billion capital plan to build or rebuild schools, roads, bridges, public parks, and mass transit.

The House supported the legislation to fund the plan passed 86-30, but the bills to spend the money each

Deputy House Majority Leader Lou Lang (D-Skokie)

Deputy House Majority Leader Lou Lang (D-Skokie)

passed 117-0. Many House Republicans opposed the revenue bills, but voted in favor of the spending.

“This construction program represents Illinois’ economic stimulus package,” said State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie), the chief sponsor of the legislation.

“This is the bill that will put thousands of our people to work, repair the infrastructure of our state and do great things moving forward for the citizens and the economy of the state of Illinois,” Lang said.

This is the first Illinois capital program in more than 10 years, Lang notes.

“This new construction program represents a significant, and some ways a historic, achievement by the Illinois General Assembly,” said Lang. “We have put the dysfunction of the Blagojevich years behind us.”
Some of the construction highlights include:

  • $2.8 billion in new road projects
  • $1.5 billion for school construction
  • $1.4 billion for universities and community colleges
  • $150 million for Amtrak
  • $2 billion for public transportation: 10 percent for downstate, the rest to the Chicago area
  • $875 million for environmental and water projects
  • $150 million for state parks

For the RTA, the capital plan provides $1.8 billion, plus $900 million in the recent “mini” capital bill, bringing to $2.7 billion from the state for mass transit infrastructure needs in the Chicago area.

Governor Pat Quinn has announced that he will not sign the capital bill until lawmakers approve new state budget. For that reason, Lang initiated a parliamentary maneuver to withhold the bills from Quinn until the Governor commits to signing the measures.

“When the governor is ready to sign the bill, I’ll send it to him,” said Lang

Lawmakers are scheduled to adjourn on May 31.

Politics Trump Public Opinion, Medicine in Illinois Medical Marijuana Debate

(Springfield, IL) — The Illinois General Assembly is currently debating the merit of adding itself to the ranks of 13 states that permit doctor-prescribed medical marijuana for seriously and terminally ill patients.

If the merit of medical marijuana and public support are the only considerations, the legislature will approve

State Senator Bill Haine (D-Alton) at a recent press conference arguing in favor of doctor-prescribed medical marijuana

State Senator Bill Haine (D-Alton) at a recent press conference arguing in favor of doctor-prescribed medical marijuana

the legislation—of which I am the chief sponsor in the House and of which Senator Bill Haine is the Senate sponsor. If politics and demagoguery dominate, lawmakers will reject the idea. Unfortunately, politics and demagoguery currently have the upper hand.

Numerous medical organizations support legal medical marijuana access for the seriously ill, including the American Public Health Association, the American Nurses Association, the Illinois Nurses Association, the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Studies have shown, in the case of chemotherapy patients, that marijuana relieves debilitating symptoms including nausea, appetite loss, and severe pain. It has been shown to increase the chances that HIV/AIDs and hepatitis C patients will stay on life-saving medications.

And marijuana is safe. It has never caused a single medically documented overdose death — unlike Tylenol, which causes about 500 overdose deaths a year in the U.S. alone.

Many otherwise illegal substances, such as Oxycontin and morphine, can legally be prescribed by doctors. The same should be true for marijuana, which is less dangerous and addictive than either of these substances.

Moreover, many of the legal alternatives proposed by opponents of medical marijuana are too expensive, too addictive, and have too many side effects to be good medicine for all patients.

Beyond the medical value, Medical marijuana is also a popular issue in Illinois.

Illinois residents favor allowing seriously and terminally ill patients to use marijuana for medical purposes by a 68-27 percent margin according to a new poll. The poll, by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research, Inc. surveyed 625 randomly selected registered Illinois voters between Feb. 9 and Feb. 16.

Support is strong across the state. Voter support range from 70 percent in Chicago to 65 percent in downstate regions. And the use of medical marijuana by seriously ill patients has majority voter support among Republicans, Independents, and Democrats alike.

Ultimately, the decision of what medicine is best for an illness should be left up to the patient and the doctor, not to police and prosecutors. The choice of Illinois lawmakers is simple: legalize medical marijuana.

Lou Lang

Illinois College Scholarship for Students with “B” or Better Grades Pushed at University of Illinois

(Champaign, IL) — If middle-class students earn “B” or better grade averages, should their hard-work make

State Rep. Lou Lang and University of Illinois students at their April 15th town hall meeting.

State Rep. Lou Lang and University of Illinois students at their April 15th town hall meeting.

the eligible for a state of Illinois scholarship? I do.

On April 15, I had the opportunity to attend a town hall meeting with students at the University of Illinois to discuss my legislation, House Bill 79, that would provide a scholarship to full-time Illinois college students at public or private Illinois schools who earn a “B” grade average or better among other qualifications.

Unsurprisingly, the students agree. And undoubtedly there parents agree too. At the U of I, 4 year in-state tuition and fees total $39,528.

Working class students and families need some help to cover costs like these. And if a student earns a “B” or better, he or she deserves it.

The legislation’s other sponsors include State Representatives: Mike Boland, Linda Chapa LaVia, Luis Arroyo, Elizabeth Hernandez, Edward Acevedo and Susana Mendoza.

It’s an idea whose time has come.

Lou Lang