Illinois House Declares “Heroin State of Emergency”

State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie)

State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie)

(Springfield, IL) – The Illinois House has voted unanimously, 108-0, to declare a “heroin state of emergency” in Illinois.

House lawmakers voted last week for House Resolution 883 not only to declare a “Heroin State of Emergency in Illinois” but also to call on the legislature to seek a comprehensive legislative “road map” to address the problem.

The resolution, which has 50 House sponsors, is the initial step by the new House Task Force on Heroin Crisis which is set to address Illinois’ growing heroin epidemic.

“Given that the heroin crisis plaguing Illinois – and particularly middle class families in Cook, in the Collar Counties, and Downstate – is continuing unabated, it is clear what we’re doing now is failing,” said House Deputy Majority Leader Lou Lang (D-Skokie) the task force’s chairman.

House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) appointed Lang several weeks ago to lead the bi-partisan panel that will hold public hearings in Chicago, the suburbs, and Downstate.

“As lawmakers, we are aware in our own districts that we have a problem and a growing epidemic,” said Lang. “House Resolution 883 officially recognizes the problem and the statewide reach of the crisis and our need to seek creative solutions to combat this plague.”

Lang said that his intention would be to hold multiple public hearings during the course of the spring legislative session and praised the bi-partisan nature of the task force, and the first hearing scheduled for Chicago at the Bilandic Building on Tuesday, April 15 at 1:30 p.m.

“The panel aims to draft an actionable legislative agenda that demonstrates that both Democrats and Republicans are taking a leadership role in addressing an issue that worries families and law enforcement alike,” said Lang.

“Events are boosting the profile of both heroin in particular and addiction treatment policy in general – and it’s revealing that we’re losing this fight,” Lang said.

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Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence Endorses Rep. Lou Lang

State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie)

(Skokie, IL) – The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence political action committee in Illinois has endorsed State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) for reelection to the Illinois House.

The Brady PAC-IL, which supports candidates and elected officials who support an agenda of common sense and responsible gun ownership, issued the following statement:

“Representative Lou Lang is committed to commons sense gun violence prevention measures, such as fixing the background check system to keep prohibited purchasers from having access to firearms, and requiring gun owners to report when a weapon is lost or stolen. Representative Lang has earned the Brady PAC-IL 2012 endorsement in the 16th State Representative District.”

Lang face GOP opponent and staunch conceal carry backer Vince Romano (R-Skokie) on November 6.

Rep. Lou Lang Offers Illinois Foreclosure Prevention Help at Mortgage Relief Workshop

State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie)

(Skokie, IL) – June 19, 2012. Aiming to blunt local home foreclosures, State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) will be hosting a “mortgage relief workshop” for local homeowners on June 27.

In conjunction with staff from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, the mortgage relief workshop will offer homeowners an opportunity to lower mortgage costs and to avoid foreclosure.

“The mortgage relief workshop is part of a broader state anti-foreclosure strategy by the Illinois Foreclosure Prevention Network to help people who are behind on their mortgages and who are at risk of foreclosure,” said Lang.

At the workshop, homeowners should bring basic financial information in order to assess their eligibility for mortgage reduction assistance, including: current mortgage statement, 2010 & 2011 W-2 tax returns and schedules, 2 months of recent paystubs, other income documentation, recent utility bill, profit/loss statement if self-employed (last 6 months), and budget of household expenses.

The June 27 workshop will be held at the Croatian Cultural Center of Chicago, located at 2845 W. Devon. The workshop is scheduled from 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Calling on Gov. Quinn to Negotiate Gaming Bill, Rep. Lou Lang Says State Should Not Guarantee Casino Owner Profits

(Springfield, IL) — It’s a sure bet that gaming expansion will come up during the Illinois legislature’s fall veto session, but who will win and who will bust is uncertain.

A plan to add five casinos throughout the state, expand the number of places where people can make bets at each casino, and allow video gambling at horse tracks eked out of the Legislature this spring but stalled in the face of opposition from Governor Pat Quinn.

Quinn has criticized the legislation repeatedly, calling it “top heavy.”

“The bill that they have proposed has many, many defects, and it needs to be improved substantially,” Quinn said earlier this week. “I’m going to speak about this later this month, and we’ll lay out some principles that I think ought to be used for the Legislature when it comes to gambling.”

Lawmakers will return Oct. 25 to the state Capitol for the start of the two-week veto session.

State Sen. President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, has put a temporary hold on the gaming legislation, preventing it from going to Quinn, who could reject part or all of the package.

From the end of the spring session until now, Quinn and legislators have met to discuss the gaming legislation, said state Rep. Lou Lang D-Skokie, who sponsored the gaming package in the House.

“We’ve had a lot of conversations, but there’s been no negotiation. The governor’s office is unwilling to negotiate and unwilling to tell us exactly what he wants in a bill,” Lang said.

Quinn said he is concerned about oversaturation, referring to the 10 current casinos in Illinois.

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Lang Applauds Quinn Approval of Mental Health Parity, But Expresses “Concern” over Budget Cuts

State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie)

(Skokie, IL) — August 25, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn last week signed legislation that requires insurance companies to provide insurance parity for both mental health care and substance abuse treatment, drawing praise for the measure’s approval but concern over funding from the measure’s legislative sponsor.

“No one should be forced to forgo critical mental health care because of where they live or because their insurance charges more for the necessary treatment,” said Quinn.

The legislation, House Bill 1530, sponsored by State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) and State Senator Willie Delgado (D-Chicago), prevents insurers from imposing additional barriers within the policy – such as financial requirements, treatment limitations, lifetime limits or annual limits – to treatments for mental, emotional, nervous and substance abuse disorders if no such stipulations exist for other health conditions.

The new Illinois new law exceeds the requirements of the recently-enacted federal mental health parity law, according to Lang.

“Federal enforcement is a more remote, lighter touch, relying on telephone calls and mail,” said Lang. “By matching state law to the federal standards, the Illinois Insurance Department can enforce the federal standards more aggressively than the federal government could by virtue of state face-to-face enforcement activities.”

Despite the governor’s signature on this legislation, Lang, the former Chairman of the House Committee on Mental Health Reform, expressed concern that Quinn’s effort to deeply cut funding for both mental health and substance abuse treatment services in this year’s budget undermines the coherence of any state strategy to improve behavioral health care in Illinois.

“Of course, I appreciate the governor’s signature on the mental health parity bill,” said Lang. “But we can’t slash funding for behavioral health care and then turn around and pat ourselves on the back and claim we’re helping the mentally ill.”

In the FY 2012 budget, Quinn proposed cutting $33 million from mental health director services and $63 million from substance abuse treatment, eliminating services for nearly 75,000 individuals.

“We have to pursue coherent behavioral health care strategy both on the substance and on the money,” said Lang.

Illinois House Approves, 65-50, Rep. Lou Lang’s Illnois Gaming Expansion Plan

(Springfield, IL) – May 31, 2011.The Illinois House yesterday approved, 65-50, a fresh gaming expansion package that will devote more than $1.5 billion of up-front and other fees to pay the state’s backlog of overdue bills, add at least $500 million annually to the state treasury, and create or save 90,000 jobs.

“This revised gaming legislation will critically boost the Illinois economy by creating 50,000 new jobs, saving 40,000 jobs linked to the horse racing industry, and providing more than $1.5 billion to pay the state’s overdue bills, said House Deputy Majority Leader Lou Lang (D-Skokie), chief House sponsor of the legislation.

“These are top priorities for both Governor Pat Quinn and the legislature,” Lang stated.

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Lang, Durkin Push Illinois Investment Board to Conduct Independent Investigation of College Illinois! Investment Losses

(Springfield, IL) — April 18, 2011. A recent state audit revealed one of the state’s “low-risk” prepaid tuition programs is underfunded by 31 percent and wasted millions on “risky” investments last year. But state legislators say there is more to uncover.

House lawmakers this week unanimously adopted a resolution calling for an investigation into the investment practices of the state’s College Illinois. Families make payments to “lock in” present rates to pay for future tuition at Illinois colleges or universities, according to its website.

Approximately 55,000 students participate statewide.

State Rep. Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, is chief sponsor of House Resolution 174. He invested in a 15-year contract with the program for his 9-year-old daughter.

“I thought it was a good, safe investment,” Durkin said, “… to ensure that my daughter would have an affordable education available for her by the time she graduates from high school.”

The office of Illinois Auditor General William Holland released a report last week raising red flags about the Illinois Student Assistance Commission’s investment losses and questionable business practices concerning College Illinois.

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