032422HAO00451 rSPRINGFIELD – Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine – and an increase of overdoses of the drug is plaguing every corner of our state. Members of the Illinois Senate Democratic Caucus outlined their plan to combat the overdose crisis during a press conference Thursday.

The increase in the number of fatalities is attributed to the rise of synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl.

Since 2013, synthetic opioid deaths in Illinois have increased 2,736% — and many of those who have overdosed did not know they were taking opioids or that their drugs were laced with fentanyl.

State Senator Laura Ellman (D-Naperville) is working to combat overdose deaths by ensuring people who fall victim to the drug are able to get the necessary medical help they need without facing grave legal consequences.

House Bill 17 would allow people seeking medical treatment for an overdose with immunity from prosecution for possession of small amounts of fentanyl. Should a person seek medical assistance for someone experiencing an overdose, they would not be arrested, charged or prosecuted.

“Fentanyl-based and fentanyl-laced drugs are proliferating across Illinois, killing more people every year,” Ellman said. “If this legislation empowers even one person to reach out for help without fear, it will have done its job.”

Organizations and volunteers place themselves in communities and events susceptible to drug use to help people who battle opioid addiction, and Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago) believes they should not be penalized for trying to save lives. He is leading House Bill 4556, which would allow pharmacists and medical professionals to dispense drug adulterant testing supplies to any person without persecution for possessing drug testing supplies.

A drug adulterant test allows people who use drugs to help identify the substance they intend on taking and therefore prevent harms associated with consuming an unknown substance. Drug testing is a common harm reduction strategy utilized by the nightlife, dance and festival communities and ensures that people have an understanding of what they are consuming so they can better manage any potential negative consequences of consumption. 

The Chicago Department of Public Health began to distribute such tests in October. Within two months, more than 7,000 tests were given out – mostly to groups who tackle substance abuse.

“This measure will help organizations get more tests into the hands of more patients and it will save lives,” Peters said. “We still have a long way to go, but removing these penalties is a responsible way to address the opioid crisis and to create real public safety for all instead of continuing the misguided policies of the past.”

In Illinois alone, opioid overdoses increased 33% from 2019 to 2020. In 2020, there were 2,944 opioid overdose fatalities.

The bills are expected to be heard in the weeks to come. 

020922CT00023 r1SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Laura Ellman (D-Naperville) is championing a measure initiated by local students to establish Dolostone as the official rock of the State of Illinois.

“Bright, motivated young people from across our state took it upon themselves to do the research and hard work necessary to bring forth this legislation,” Ellman said. “They deserve to have their voices heard.”

House Bill 4261 was brought to the General Assembly by students from Pleasant Dale School in Burr Ridge and Maplebrook Elementary School in Naperville who discovered Illinois did not have a state rock. After interviewing regional geology scholars, visiting museums and doing their own research, the students developed a ballot with three choices and asked schools across Illinois to vote on a state rock. Dolostone was the winner.

Dolostone is a sedimentary rock formed from ancient limestones over millions of years that underlies nearly all of Illinois with the exception of the northernmost part of the state. It helps enrich soil across the state by providing valuable nutrients for plant growth, and caused a major mineral rush in Galena, Ill. in the early 1800s.

In addition to its natural abundance throughout the state, Dolostone plays a significant role in Illinois through its utilization in many important structures. Most notably, 3,300 exterior dolomite stones were used in the construction of the Old Illinois State Capitol. The quarry the stones were sourced from is now under Lake Springfield.

“Developing this legislation has been a fantastic learning experience for students across our state, and this is an opportunity to show the next generation that they are capable of great things,” Ellman said. “I encourage Illinoisans to learn more about Dolostone, and although it may be similar to other rocks, we shouldn’t take it for granite.”

The legislation, having passed out of the Senate State Government Committee Wednesday, will now go before the Senate for further consideration.

032222cm0483 rSPRINGFIELD – Legislation sponsored by State Senator Laura Ellman (D-Naperville) would make more members of Gold Star families eligible to receive dedicated license plates.

“When a brave individual decides to step up and serve our country, their family serves, too,” Ellman said. “Missed holidays, birthdays and other special occasions are the price our service members and their families pay, and when a life is lost in the line of duty, loved ones are left with empty chairs and broken hearts.”

House Bill 5078 expands the current eligibility list for Gold Star Family license plates to include stepchildren, adopted children and half-siblings of veterans who lost their lives serving in a branch of the United States Armed Forces, and waives the registration fee for children in Gold Star Families. The legislation also aligns existing language regarding eligibility for a Gold Star lapel button with language used by the Department of Defense.

“Gold Star Families have made sacrifices that cannot be repaid,” Ellman said. “This legislation ensures that we are able to offer them the utmost respect and recognition for that sacrifice.”

Having passed out of the Senate Transportation Committee on Tuesday, the legislation will now go before the full Senate for further consideration.

naper settlement rNAPERVILLE – Three local museums are set to receive more than $1.8 million in Public Museum Capital Grants, State Senator Laura Ellman (D-Naperville) and State Representative Janet Yang Rohr (D-Naperville) announced on Friday.

“Local museums and exhibits provide priceless, hands-on learning opportunities for families in our community,” Ellman said. “I’m pleased to see investment in these invaluable institutions right here in our back yards. These grants will create jobs and preserve our museums for future generations to enjoy.”

The Illinois Public Museums Capital Grants Program, overseen by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, is open to any museum operated by local government or located on municipally owned land. Public museums are eligible to receive up to $750,000 through the program, and matching funds may be required based on museum attendance levels.

“Not only do our museums offer fun and immersive educational opportunities, they bring families from across Illinois to our community—driving the local economy and boosting tourism,” Yang Rohr said. “We are lucky to have these fantastic institutions in our community, and I’m glad to see them receive this well-deserved investment.”

The following local museums were selected to receive grants:

  • The DuPage Children’s Museum - $302,700 to create a “Questioners: Think. Question. Read. Play!” exhibit
  • Naperville Heritage Society - $749,700 for a Naper Settlement Digital Experience Welcome Zone
  • Wheaton Park District - $750,000 for restoration and stabilization of historic masonry in the DuPage County Historical Museum

More information about the Illinois Public Museum Capital Grants Program is available online.

Ellman is also encouraging residents interested in visiting local museums to reach out to her district office to access her museum resource education card. Use of the card is completely free, and constituents may check out the card for two consecutive days to admit the cardholder and three guests to many local institutions. A full list of participating institutions can be viewed on Ellman’s website, and her office can be reached at 630-601-9961. Interested residents are asked to reserve the card three business days in advance of their anticipated visit.

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Contact Info

District Office
475 River Bend Rd., Suite 500
Naperville, IL 60540
Phone: (630) 601-9961

Springfield Office
M113 Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
Phone: (217) 782-8192