032922HAO013531 rSPRINGFIELD – A measure initiated by local students to establish Dolostone as the official rock of the State of Illinois was advanced out of the Senate by State Senator Laura Ellman (D-Naperville).

“Exceptional young people from across the state came together to bring forth this legislation,” Ellman said. “They saw a fantastic learning opportunity in front of them and took full advantage—and 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. The students took it upon themselves to interview regional geology scholars, visit museums and do their own research. They then 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 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.

“Anyone is capable of creating change, and the engaged and curious students who crafted this legislation have proven just that,” Ellman said. “Since they helped us designate our state tree and flower over 100 years ago, our students have been a cornerstone in our state’s history and heritage.”

The legislation, having passed out of both chambers, now awaits further action.

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.

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