SPRINGFIELD – A new law signed this week, “Molly’s Law,” will help the families of crime victims by extending the statute of limitations on violent crimes and strengthening Illinois’ Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) laws. Additional measures were also signed this week, which include: expanding insurance coverage in Illinois to include cutting-edge breast cancer screenings, targeting the retail sales of synthetic drugs and reinforcing the state’s commitment to early childhood education.
In other news, public officials issued safety warnings urging residents to act according as excessive heat takes hold in Illinois, and other public health officials stepped up the fight against the spread of mosquito-borne illnesses.
Governor Signs Molly’s Law
A legislative package known as Molly's Law was signed by the Governor that will strengthen the state’s Freedom of Information Act and extend the period of time in which a victim's family can file a wrongful death lawsuit when the act is intentional and violent in nature.
House Bill 6083 allows a lawsuit in a wrongful death case to be brought within five years after the date of a death, or within one year after the criminal case against the perpetrator concludes. Additionally, House Bill 4715 provides for fines—up to $1,000 per day—in cases where a public body fails to comply with a court order resulting from a FOIA action. It also incentivizes public bodies to act in a timely manner in response to binding opinions from the Attorney General in FOIA cases.
The new laws (House Bill 6083/House Bill 4715) were sought by the family of Molly Young, a 21-year-old victim of a gunshot wound who died under questionable circumstances in 2012. The Young family faced an uphill battle in the pursuit of justice for Molly, hindered by the state’s statute of limitations for wrongful death cases and burdensome FOIA compliance issues.
As a result, in May 2015 a judge dismissed a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Larry Young, ruling Young failed to file the lawsuit within two years of Molly's death.
House Bill 6083 and House Bill 4715 will go into effect on January 1, 2017.
Illinois Continues to Lead in Early Childhood Education
A new law was signed July 21 that reinforces Illinois’ leading role in early childhood education.
As the first state in the country to make sure an allocation of early childhood education funding was directed to programs for infants and toddlers up to age three, Senate Bill 238 clarifies the original intent of the law to ensure that 25 percent of the early childhood block grant will be spent on programs that focus on children younger than three.
It has been demonstrated that early childhood is critical to intellectual, physical and behavioral development—particularly in the very early years after birth. Senate Bill 238 prioritizes state support to ensure children in Illinois begin their lives with a strong academic foundation and age-appropriate support and resources.
New Law Expands Coverage to Include 3D Breast Cancer Screenings
Insurance plans in Illinois, including Medicaid, will now cover breast tomosynthesis, or 3D mammography, following the Governor’s recent approval of Senate Bill 466.
The legislation was unanimously supported by Illinois lawmakers, and praised as a critical tool to help with early detection of breast cancer.
Breast tomosynthesis is a form of breast cancer screening that is newer and more effective than low-dose mammography. It works by creating an image of the breast through a series X-Rays from different angles. This enables doctors to have a clear, 3-dimensional image, making it easier to see through dense tissue and detect breast cancers.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among Illinois women, accounting for 29.7 percent of 796,602 invasive cancer diagnoses in women during 1986-2013. In 2013 alone, 9,859 women were diagnosed with, and 1,761 women died from, breast cancer.
IDPH projects that 10,290 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016, and that the number will increase to 10,440 women in 2017.
Senate Bill 466 took effect immediately.
Governor Signs Law Banning Sale of Addictive Bath Salts
Governor Rauner also signed Senate Bill 210, giving law enforcement another tool to curb the growing number of retailers selling synthetic drugs, popularly known as “bath salts.”
The new law targets the sale of these synthetic drugs by prohibiting retailers from selling, or offering for sale, any material that contains the “cathinone” chemical structure found in bath salts. Once the law takes effect on January 1, 2017, it will be a Class 3 felony if the Act is violated, which could result in a potential fine up to $150,000. In addition, units of local government may revoke a violator’s license.
Use of bath salts has been on the rise across the country for the last decade. It has been difficult for law enforcement to crack down on the bath salt epidemic, because in order to get around state and federal laws, manufacturers of synthetic drugs continue to modify their formulas.
Bath salts are chemically similar to amphetamines, cocaine, and MDMA, and they produce effects such as paranoia, hallucinations, increased sociability, panic attacks and excited delirium. So named because these substances are often sold disguised as common bath salts, they are frequently available in convenience stores, smoke shops and adult stores. Bath salts are known to be extremely addictive, and even deadly.
Health Officials Offer Tips To Stay Cool In Heat Wave
With high temperatures expected over the next couple of days, Illinois Department of Public Health Director Nirav D. Shah, M.D., J.D. is urging Illinoisans to take preventive actions to avoid heat-related illness like heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
“High heat and humidity can lead to serious health problems. It’s important for people to recognize the signs of heat-related illness and take action to prevent becoming sick,” said Director Shah. “To help your body cope with high temperatures, take steps to stay cool, increase your fluid intake, decrease your activities and wear appropriate clothing.”
· Stay in air-conditioned buildings. Cooling centers can be found by logging onto http://www.illinois.gov/KeepCool/SitePages/CoolingCenters.aspx.
· Do not rely on a fan as your primary cooling device.
· Limit outdoor activity, especially midday when it is the hottest part of the day, and avoid direct sunlight.
· Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
· Take cool showers or baths to lower your body temperature.
· Check on at-risk friends, family, and neighbors at least twice a day. These may include seniors and people with chronic health conditions.
· Drink more water than usual and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to hydrate.
· Drink two to four cups of water every hour while working or exercising outside.
· Avoid alcohol or beverages with high amounts of sugar.
· Check the local news for extreme heat warnings.
· Visit www.dph.illinois.gov for heat related information.
Normally, the body cools itself by sweating. However, if temperatures and humidity are extremely high, sweating is not effective in maintaining the body’s normal temperature. If the body does not cool properly or does not cool enough, a person may suffer a heat-related illness, which can become serious or even deadly if unattended. Warning signs and symptoms vary but may include:
Heat Exhaustion: What You Should Do, Symptoms
· Heavy sweating
· Move to a cooler location
· Lie down and loosen your clothing
· Skin cold, pale, and clammy
· Apply cool, wet cloths to as much of your body as possible
· Weak pulse
· Sip water
· Fainting and vomiting
· If you have vomited and it continues, seek medical attention immediately
Heat Stroke: What You Should Do, Symptoms
· High body temperature (above 103°F)
· Call 911 immediately – this is a medical emergency
· Hot, red, dry or moist skin
· Move the person to a cooler location
· Rapid and strong pulse
· Reduce the person’s body temperature with cool cloths or a bath
· Possible unconsciousness
· Do NOT give fluids
People most vulnerable for heat-related illness include the elderly, those who work or exercise outdoors, infants and children, the homeless or poor, and people with a chronic medical condition.
The Illinois Department on Aging encourages relatives and friends to make daily visits or calls to senior citizens living alone. When temperatures and humidity are extremely high, seniors and people with chronic health conditions should be monitored for dehydration and other effects of extreme heat. Additionally, seniors should eat lighter meals, take longer and more frequent rests, and drink plenty of fluids.
Never leave anyone, including pets, alone in a closed, parked vehicle. The air temperature inside a car rises rapidly during hot weather and can lead to brain damage or death.
Log onto www.ready.illinois.gov for more heat safety information and updates on statewide weather watches, warnings, and advisories.
Agencies Coordinate Mosquito Reduction Strategy
Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Acting Director Alec Messina and Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Director Nirav D. Shah, M.D., J.D. this week announced a plan to reduce the threat of mosquito-borne diseases in Illinois, like West Nile virus and Zika virus, by removing used tires from public and abandoned properties.
“Used tires threaten Illinois communities by increasing the risk of disease transmission,” said Illinois EPA Acting Director Alec Messina. “This collaborative effort between IEPA and IDPH will allow us to assist local governments most vulnerable to West Nile virus and the possible spread of Zika virus by removing prime breeding habitats for disease-carrying mosquitoes.”
Under the plan, Illinois EPA will remove used tires from certain locations across Illinois. The two agencies have divided the state into three priority zones for used tire removal. The zones are based on where Illinois would more likely see Zika virus, such as the southern counties that typically have hotter weather. Zone 1 is the highest priority area and is defined by a straight east-west line going through Effingham and areas south of that line. Zone 2 is the next highest priority area and is defined by a straight east-west line through Peoria south to the Effingham line. Zone 3 is the third highest priority area and is defined by the straight east-west line through Peoria north to the Wisconsin border.
Illinois EPA is identifying and initiating used tire removal actions for units of local government beginning in Zone 1. Illinois EPA will collect, transport, and properly dispose of used tires from public and abandoned properties. Additional activities planned by the Illinois EPA include close monitoring of regulated used tire sites located in Zone 1 and using larvicide to actively treat and mitigate known sources of improperly managed used tires.
In addition, the Illinois EPA and IDPH will enter into an Intergovernmental Agreement to allocate $750,000 from the Used Tire Management Fund. This funding will enable IDPH to enhance statewide mosquito control activities related to West Nile virus, Zika virus, and other mosquito-borne diseases through activities associated with the improper storage, handling, and disposal of tires. “Removing mosquito breeding sites is a core component of our mosquito abatement activities and a primary way to prevent the spread of diseases like West Nile and Zika viruses,” said IDPH Director Shah. “This plan is an excellent example of cooperation among state agencies that will protect Illinois and its communities.”
Illinois EPA will announce collection locations and results at a later date. The Illinois EPA's Used Tire Program is funded by a $2.50 per tire fee that consumers pay when purchasing tires at retail. Illinois citizens produce more than 14 million used tires annually.