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It’s just a bill

Friday, Apr 19, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller


An increased moratorium on closing Chicago Public Schools – including charters – for an additional two years easily passed the state House Thursday night over the objections of the Chicago Teachers Union, which described the measure as “racist,” and despite protestations from Mayor Brandon Johnson’s appointees to the city’s school board. […]

All of the restrictions would be lifted come February 2027, when the board will for the first time be fully elected. The measure will now head to the Senate.

“We have a duty to protect the schools from irreversible damage until we have a fully-elected school board that will have to be accountable to the voters of Chicago as well as the parents and families,” said state Rep. Margaret Croke, a Chicago Democrat, who sponsored the measure (House Bill 303). […]

Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who previously lent his support to Croke’s plan to stave off major changes to selective enrollment schools until the elected board is seated, reiterated during a press conference on Thursday night that the concept has “merit,” while also blasting those who labeled it or Croke racist as “extreme.”

* CPS Parents for Buses statement on HB303…

1) CPS already closed both magnet and selective enrollment schools earlier this year to low income students who depended on the busing they were promised when they picked a school they love.

2) Halting an unelected school board from making drastic changes to selective enrollment schools is appreciated by many of our members who are parents of selective enrollment students….and our parents of magnet students, like parents of all students, look forward to learning more details on how this bill affects their children’s school budgets.

3) We note that Jianan Shi visited Springfield to oppose HB303, and saw his concerns ignored. Perhaps now he may be able to better understand parents who have seen him ignore their concerns.

4) State legislators and Secretary of State Giannoulias now need to act on behalf of those who have lost busing. The Safe Student Transport Act (HB3476), the Under the Hood Waiver, allowing CDL driver testing in Spanish, and providing more CDL testing dates will expand the pool of drivers for children of CPS and other Illinois districts.


A bill that would ban certain additives and chemicals in food has advanced in the Illinois legislature.

On Thursday, Senate Bill 2637 passed the Senate. It will now head to the House.

The bill, introduced late last year by Illinois Senator Willie Preston, aims to ban specific ingredients in candy, soda and other snack foods. These additives include titanium dioxide, brominated vegetable oil, potassium bromate, propylparaben, and red dye No. 3. […]

The bill includes provisions for manufacturers and distributors to adopt safer alternatives and update their recipes by Jan. 1, 2028. It also establishes penalties for multiple non-compliance violations.

* Capitol News Illinois

Senate Bill 2637, known as the Illinois Food Safety Act, passed on a 37-15 bipartisan vote and will head to the House for consideration. The banned chemicals would include brominated vegetable oil, red dye No. 3, propylparaben and potassium bromate. […]

The bill had bipartisan support in the Senate with both Sen. Seth Lewis, R-Bartlett, and Sen. Steve McClure, R-Springfield, voting for it.

“(Red dye 3) was banned by the FDA for use in makeup over 30 years ago. So, the FDA doesn’t allow you to put it on your face for makeup. But yet kids are eating this in candy,” McClure said in the Senate Thursday. “That to me is outrageous. So, for that reason I am voting for this bill.” […]

Industry groups such as the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association have pushed back against the bill throughout the legislative process. In January, the IMA issued a statement in opposition of “this well-intentioned legislation,” claiming it would undermine the FDA and negatively impact Illinois’ economy as it would “create a confusing and costly patchwork of regulations.”

* Politico

A priority piece of legislation in Pritzker’s budget proposal passed the Illinois House on Thursday. The Birth Equity Initiative will allow for “better access to affordable pregnancy, postpartum and newborn care services,” according to a statement from Democratic state Rep. Robyn Gabel, who carried the legislation.

From Pritzker: “Passage of HB5142 by the House moves Illinois one step closer to our goal of making all mothers and children safer and healthier regardless of race or financial status,” he said in a statement. “The Birth Equity Initiative will work to close the tragic gap in maternal mortality between Black women and other new parents, building an Illinois where everyone can feel safe in their decision to start and raise a family.”

Also passing the House: The Healthcare Protection Act, first introduced in the governor’s budget address. Its goal is to ban prior authorization for crisis mental health care, improve access to primary care physicians and end unchecked rate increases. The measure heads to the Senate after passing on a bipartisan vote in the House.

* 25 News Now

State lawmakers are making another attempt to create a state tax credit that would increase the production of affordable housing.

The Build Illinois Homes Tax Credit is a model of the federal low-income housing tax credit. The Illinois Housing Council says while federal credit is an essential tool used to develop and preserve affordable rental housing throughout the country, it never covers the entire cost of finishing a development project. […]

The House bill, supported by Rep. Dagmara Avelar (D), asks for a $20 million investment annually for six years that developers can apply for a long-term payment solution.

“Grants are a band-aid solution, very much needed, but they help us in the short term, and we need long-term solutions,” Avelar said.


State representatives passed a plan Thursday night to ban people from keeping servals, caracals, wallabies or kangaroos as pets.

House Democrats argue these animals are too dangerous for people to keep in their homes, and Rep. Daniel Didech (D-Buffalo Grove) said law enforcement and animal control professionals requested a change in state law. […]

This comes months after a serval escaped from a Decatur man’s apartment less than two weeks after he bought the animal. […]

The legislation passed out of the House on a 67-34 vote with three representatives voting present.


A bill carried by State Representative Jeff Keicher of Sycamore, which would help child trafficking victims, was unanimously passed in the state’s House of Representatives. House Bill 5465 would help juvenile victims of human trafficking receive resources to help them heal and recover from their trauma.

Keicher says the bill builds upon a law passed last year by simplifying the process of helping juvenile victims of trafficking with sealing or expunging any criminal records that occurred while they were trafficked.

Keicher showed appreciation to his fellow representatives fro their bipartisan support. Keicher has a personal attachment to this issue, as he had a family member who was abused who died due to a lack of resources available to help.


A plan moving in Springfield could require insurance coverage for at-home pregnancy tests.

Sponsors say insurance companies should provide coverage for prescribed urine-based pregnancy tests regardless of whether the tests are available over the counter. […]

If the measure becomes law, Medicaid will cover pregnancy tests for Illinoisans starting January 1, 2025. Illinois insurance companies would be required to provide coverage starting January 1, 2026.

House Bill 5643 passed unanimously out of the House Insurance Committee Thursday morning. Representatives could vote on the plan before the House bill 3rd reading deadline Friday night.

* The Illinois Harm Reduction & Recovery Coalition…

Today, the Illinois Harm Reduction & Recovery Coalition (IHRRC) brought together scores of advocates from across Illinois in response to the lack of urgency around necessary policy solutions proven to decrease overdose deaths. According to the CDC, nearly 4,000 Illinoisans died from an overdose in 2022, the equivalent of 10 people daily. People in self-defined recovery (including people who use drugs), families who have lost loved ones, peer harm reduction providers, religious leaders, treatment professionals, public officials, and more are contributing to Harm Reduction Week of Solidarity. Legislators will be able to learn from an on-site model demonstration of an overdose prevention site tent and mobile harm reduction outreach vehicles.

IHRRC commends the legislators leading the way to authorize a pilot overdose prevention site (OPS) in Chicago through House Bill 2/Senate Bill 78, led by sponsors Representative La Shawn K. Ford and Senator Sara Feigenholtz. The legislation has garnered support from Representatives Kelly Cassidy, Will Guzzardi, Anna Moeller, Senators Robert Peters, David Koehler, and Kimberly Lightford, and more than 24 co-sponsors. Yet, regardless of widespread support, IHRRC is dismayed that the General Assembly has failed to advance this commonsense and lifesaving policy.

“Despite decades of supportive data, hundreds of conversations with legislators, and impactful events like August’s Overdose Awareness Day Rally spirited by the courageous Angel Moms, stigma among legislators is delaying necessary public policy changes. It has been frustrating that legislators have limits to the type of life-saving harm reduction interventions they are willing to support. Sitting out on OPS is the equivalent of supporting safe driving without voting for texting restrictions or safe sex without funding condom distribution. We are talking about human beings - our friends, family, and neighbors,” said Jennifer Nagel-Fischer, Director of The Porchlight Collective in Madison County and a person with lived and living experience.

Overdose prevention sites are evidence-based health resource centers where people can use pre-obtained drugs under the supervision of trained staff. OPSs save lives, save money, and keep communities safe. They reduce the risk of harm related to drug use, including fatal overdose and HIV/Hepatitis C transmissions, and provide health services to people who use drugs, including medical assistance, counseling, case management, referrals to community services, education about safer use techniques, and much more.

* Sen. Mike Porfirio and Rep. Angie Guerrero-Cuellar…

Sen. Mike Porfirio and Rep. Angie Guerrero-Cuellar recently filed legislation to acquire a new police district facility representing their districts on the Southwest Side of Chicago. The current 8th Chicago Police District is the busiest and largest by population, ranking first for all crimes committed across the city.

Southwest Side residents voted overwhelmingly - at nearly 87% - for a new police district in the March 19 primary. A group of 15 elected officials representing the community sent Gov. Pritzker a letter last month requesting the state sell them a vacant building to be used as a new police district facility.

An amendment to SB386 and one filed to HB478 would transfer the Midway Flight Facility located at 5400 W. 63rd St. to the City of Chicago for the express purpose of a police district for $1. The payment would be made to the Department of Military Affairs, which currently owns the property.

“Our residents have spoken and we are moving forward with their wishes for a new police district for our community,” said Porfirio. “We hope Governor Pritzker and Mayor Johnson want to support us in this effort.”

The 8th District has the worst data points in the city on key police staffing metrics, which has led to slow police response times and resident frustration. At its current size, which hasn’t changed since the late 1960s, the 8th District is the busiest and third-largest police district in the city (at 23 square miles) and serves the highest population with over 250,000 residents. That equates to 10 officers for every 10,000 residents, which is the lowest officer to resident ratio in the city.

“It is past time that our community received the police support it needs and deserves,” Guerrero-Cuellar said. “We hope this legislation signals how serious we are about increasing safety and police presence on the Southwest Side.”

The legislation would be effective upon Gov. Pritzker’s signature.

* Rep. Jay Hoffman…

Responding to the rise in catalytic converter theft, state Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Swansea, passed a plan out of the House Tuesday that would classify catalytic converters as “essential parts” – subjecting them to enhanced tracking and state record laws that address hijacking and vehicle theft.

“Many residents have been frustrated by the cost of dealing with catalytic converter thieves who systematically damage cars to make a quick buck,” Hoffman said. “We have to continue to take steps to limit the ways these criminals make money on the crime, and this proposal would update how junk yards keep track of and handle catalytic converter sales.”

Hoffman’s House Bill 4589 would require recyclable metal dealers to acquire and maintain additional records involving catalytic converter transactions, including the vehicle identification number it was removed from as well as any other specific numbers, bar codes, stickers or unique markings on the part. Recyclable metal dealers must also require a copy of the vehicle’s certificate of title or uniform invoice clearly showing the seller’s ownership.

The same rules apply to other “essential parts,” which includes vehicle hulks, engines, transmissions, fuel tanks and other critical vehicle components. Hoffman’s measure further aims to clarify that catalytic converters can only be sold at licensed recyclable metal dealer locations. […]

House Bill 4589 received bipartisan support and will head to the Senate for consideration.


  1. - @misterjayem - Friday, Apr 19, 24 @ 10:32 am:

    I read the WGN piece on the ingredient ban but didn’t see any of the purported dangers of “titanium dioxide, brominated vegetable oil, potassium bromate, propylparaben, or red dye No. 3.”

    The article makes it very difficult for citizens to decide if this proposed legislation is a good or bad idea because WGN leaves out the “why” behind it.

    Consumer Reports, on the other hand, says each “have each been linked to serious health problems, including higher risk of cancer, nervous system damage, hyperactivity, and other behavioral problems. All have been banned by regulators for use in food in Europe.”

    Important context, imho.

    – MrJM

  2. - Lurker - Friday, Apr 19, 24 @ 10:50 am:

    I’m always confused when they say they are appointments but then argue “until we have a fully-elected school board that will have to be accountable to the voters of Chicago”
    Who are they really going to be accountable to?

  3. - Old IL Dude - Friday, Apr 19, 24 @ 11:01 am:

    “3) We note that Jianan Shi visited Springfield to oppose HB303, and saw his concerns ignored. Perhaps now he may be able to better understand parents who have seen him ignore their concerns.”


  4. - Rich Miller - Friday, Apr 19, 24 @ 11:20 am:

    ===Who are they really going to be accountable to? ===

    Elections have consequences. You got a better idea?

  5. - Tom - Friday, Apr 19, 24 @ 11:51 am:

    Harm reduction policies are very controversial. You are enabling an addict and giving them zero reason to hit rock bottom on their own. It is very well-intentioned, and I applaud all those involved, but I have seen firsthand the tragedy it causes the addict. I also applaud them for trying to find an answer to a very real problem.

  6. - Excitable Boy - Friday, Apr 19, 24 @ 12:07 pm:

    - giving them zero reason to hit rock bottom on their own. -

    Rock bottom for an addict is 6 feet below ground. The goal is to keep them alive long enough to have a chance at recovery.

  7. - DS - Friday, Apr 19, 24 @ 12:20 pm:

    Advocates should focus their energy on reversing a federal statute which criminalizes operating a safe consumption site.

  8. - Rich Miller - Friday, Apr 19, 24 @ 12:22 pm:

    ===Advocates should focus their energy on reversing a federal statute===


    Yeah, because convincing Congress to act is soooo easy and takes like 10 minutes.

  9. - Suburban Mom - Friday, Apr 19, 24 @ 1:04 pm:

    ===You are enabling an addict and giving them zero reason to hit rock bottom on their own.===

    Addiction narratives about hitting rock bottom and only then recovering are not based as much in medical fact as they are in the narrative tradition of Protestant conversion stories (especially extolled in the US’s Great Awakenings periods). “I was sinning, it tore my life apart, and only THEN did I accept Jesus into my heart and my life improved.”

    This is especially dramatic in US addiction and recovery circles because of the heavy involvement by teetotaling Methodist churches (go look up the history of Welch’s grape juice for a couple fun facts here) in pushing for Prohibition (to help protect women and children from the effects of alcoholic men/fathers, in part), and AA’s roots in the American evangelical/revivalist Lutheran “Oxford Society.”

    American narratives of addiction and recovery are to this day dominated by the “rock bottom - accept a higher power - be lifted up in a community of believers” Protestant conversion narrative that brought the US Prohibition and our earliest effective attempts to combat and treat alcoholism.

    But it isn’t the ONLY way to treat substance use disorders, there’s not actually a ton of MEDICAL evidence for it, and for some people, the AA system/method doesn’t work at all — but because of the grip of the Protestant conversion narrative on the American mind (it’s one of our great stories), and its position as the first mover in the space, it’s very difficult to get funding for alternative models, and it’s VERY difficult to get the legal system to accept models other than “going to AA/NA meetings” for substance use disorders, even when it’s clear to a person’s doctor that that’s an inappropriate treatment modality in their case.

    (Another fun place in American life you can watch the power of the Protestant conversion narrative to shape US stories that are totally unrelated is watching VH1’s old series “Behind the Music,” which has a very set story arc where things are good, the band gets greedy, hubris causes a fall from drugs/infighting/jerk behavior, everything falls apart, then they realize something about themselves and begin healing/getting clean/making friends and suddenly make better music than ever before. All organized neatly to have maximum dramatic tension right before commercial breaks and fit the complete arc in 42 minutes.)

  10. - Tom - Friday, Apr 19, 24 @ 1:07 pm:

    ===Rock bottom for an addict is 6 feet below ground. The goal is to keep them alive long enough to have a chance at recovery.== Millions of addicts are recovered and living very productive lives. 6 feet below the ground is death, not recovery. Enabling an addict is a death sentence.

  11. - Excitable Boy - Friday, Apr 19, 24 @ 2:30 pm:

    - 6 feet below the ground is death, not recovery. -

    I said death is rock bottom, try comprehending what you read. Harm reduction isn’t enabling, it’s keeping addicts safe until they’re able to recover.

  12. - Dotnonymous x - Friday, Apr 19, 24 @ 2:30 pm:

    - Millions of addicts -

    How would you like to be vilified/identified by your disease?

  13. - Tom - Friday, Apr 19, 24 @ 3:35 pm:

    Excitable boy I have no bones to pick with you but just so you are clear this is an exact quote:==Rock bottom for an addict is 6 feet below ground.==
    So I pretty much comprehend what you wrote. Enjoy the weekend–it’s beautiful!

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