Chicago Tribune (Sunday)
Lawmakers OK insulin and cannabis measures
Vaping-related ban, college athlete bill left by the wayside
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.