Chicago Tribune (Sunday)

Lawmakers OK insulin and cannabis measures

Vaping-related ban, college athlete bill left by the wayside

- By Jamie Munks and Dan Petrella jmunks@chicagotri­bune. com dpetrella@chicagotri­bune. com

SPRINGFIEL­D – Ethics reform, pension consolidat­ion and a proposal to make a Chicago casino more attractive to investors grabbed a lot of attention and energy during the Illinois General Assembly’s six-day fall veto session, but lawmakers also took up a host of other issues, from public marijuana consumptio­n limits to placing a price cap on insulin.

Other high-profile measures, including a flavored vaping product ban and a bill that would allow college athletes to make money off endorsemen­t deals, stalled and won’t be brought back up until at least early next year.

Still, lawmakers passed legislatio­n that put to rest questions around where people will be able to use cannabis in public when adult-use sales begin Jan. 1. Restaurant­s and bars are out, but the measure allows on-site consumptio­n at dispensari­es and retail smoke shops with designated areas for smoking or using cannabis, with local government authorizat­ion.

The clean-up legislatio­n lawmakers approved also clarified some of the details surroundin­g the expungemen­t provisions of the pot legalizati­on law, which allows people with low-level conviction­s for marijuana possession of up to 30 grams to qualify to have their public records on those cases erased. It also clarifies details of related revolving door rules for lawmakers and their immediate family members and allow cities and counties to begin collecting sales tax on cannabis on July 1 rather than Sept. 1.

During the veto session, which ended Thursday, Illinois lawmakers also voted to cap out-of-pocket insulin costs at $100 for a 30-day supply in the state, a measure advocates say is badly needed to address soaring prescripti­on drug costs.

The Senate on Thursday signed off on changes the House made a day earlier, and the measure is now before Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who supports it.

The price cap, which applies only to state-regulated commercial insurance plans, would take effect Jan. 1, 2021.

People with diabetes have higher-than-normal glucose levels in their blood, and depend on prescripti­on insulin to regulate those levels and prevent potentiall­y life-threatenin­g complicati­ons.

More than 1 million Illinois residents are living with diabetes, and prices have risen significan­tly over the past decade. The bill was modeled after a new law in Colorado, which became the first state to limit out-of-pocket insulin costs earlier this year.

The House and Senate unanimousl­y approved legislatio­n that would require pharmacies to give pharmacist­s breaks, limit their shifts to 12 hours, give them more time to review patients drug histories and eliminate other working conditions that can cause distractio­ns or fatigue.

The measure was based on recommenda­tions from a state task force that was formed in response to a Chicago Tribune investigat­ion that found 52% of 255 Chicago-area pharmacies had failed to warn about combinatio­ns of drugs that could cause harm or death. The Tribune series previously prompted a new law requiring pharmacist­s to counsel patients about potentiall­y dangerous drug combinatio­ns.

The legislatio­n also expands the duties pharmacy technician­s are allowed to perform with the proper training.

Rep. Mike Zalewski, a Riverside Democrat who sponsored the bill, called it “the product of a long, hard, good task force effort.”

Another bill lawmakers approved in the closing hours of the veto session would require online marketplac­es like eBay and Etsy to collect state and local sales taxes on purchases made by Illinois residents. The Illinois Retail Merchants Associatio­n estimates the change would

More than 1 million Illinois residents are living with diabetes, and insulin prices have risen significan­tly over the past decade.

bring in about $380 million in additional revenue annually for the state and local government­s, not including any locally imposed sales taxes.

Lawmakers approved a measure in the spring that was supposed to make this change, but the new legislatio­n fixes errors in the original version.

The General Assembly also approved a measure to extend tax breaks for private aircraft maintenanc­e companies based in the state, which Pritzker has said he would veto. The measure would forgive taxes owed by those companies since an exemption ended in 2014.

In the Senate, where the bill saw overwhelmi­ng support in Thursday’s vote, lawmakers said letting the tax forgivenes­s plan end would cost their districts jobs.

“It would be a devastatin­g, negative impact on my district if those jobs were to leave,” said Sen. Christophe­r Belt, a Democrat from downstate Cahokia.

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 ?? TED SCHURTER/THE STATE JOURNAL-REGISTER ?? State Rep. Will Guzzardi, D-Chicago, smiles as Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton takes his photo Wednesday on the House floor after the passage of a bill involving prescripti­on insulin.
TED SCHURTER/THE STATE JOURNAL-REGISTER State Rep. Will Guzzardi, D-Chicago, smiles as Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton takes his photo Wednesday on the House floor after the passage of a bill involving prescripti­on insulin.

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