* The rollcall is here. Senate Democrats…
Hoping a new governor results in a better outcome, the Illinois Senate overwhelmingly approved raising to 21 the legal age to buy cigarettes and alternative nicotine products, clearing the way for the proposal to go to Gov. JB Pritzker and become state law.
The 39-16 vote Thursday comes less than a year after the Senate approved an identical proposal only to have it vetoed by then-Gov. Bruce Rauner. Since then, the proposal has steadily picked up support.
“Everyone knows this should already be the law. Thankfully, we’ve got a new governor and a new chance to right past wrongs and make Illinois a healthier state,” said Illinois Senate President John Cullerton, a public health advocate and supporter of the Tobacco 21 legislation.
The key issue, Cullerton said, is preventing young adults from buying cigarettes for younger teenagers, who then become addicted and face a lifetime of increased health problems.
More than 30 Illinois communities have these restrictions in place. Evanston was first nearly five years ago. Others include Chicago, Normal, Barrington and Hoffman Estates.
“We’ve seen this work in Chicago and other numerous communities. I want to thank Mayor Rahm Emanuel for his work to not only improve public health in the city but to support our efforts here to do the same statewide,” Cullerton said. “It’s time for the state to step up and protect our children from this known danger.”
Hawaii, Maine, Oregon, Massachusetts, New Jersey, California and most recently Virginia have all enacted Tobacco 21 legislation. In Virginia, the bipartisan proposal was even backed by one of the nation’s largest tobacco companies.
The Illinois proposal, HB 345, is sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Julie Morrison, a suburban Deerfield Democrat. Lawmakers have 30 days to send the paperwork to Gov. Pritzker’s office. He then has 60 days to sign or veto it.
Pritzker’s spending plan for the budget year that begins July 1 includes $65 million in new revenue from proposals to increase the $1.98-per-pack cigarette tax by 32 cents and apply the state’s wholesale tobacco tax to e-cigarettes. The governor’s office did not respond to requests for comment on how raising the legal purchasing age would affect those revenue estimates.
…Adding… From yesterday…
The soonest the Senate could vote on the legislation, House Bill 345, is Tuesday.
Normally, that would be the case. This time was different.
So, how did the House pass a House bill on Tuesday and the Senate pass it in two days when three days of reading are required? Well, it was three days. The Senate read the bill into the record late Tuesday, then immediately referred it to the Assignments Committee, which referred it directly to the floor the next day for 2nd Reading. The Senate skipped a substantive committee hearing because a Senate committee had already passed an identical bill. The legislation was then advanced to 3rd Reading and voted on today.