State Sen. Sue Rezin (R-Morris) said that the bipartisan, bicameral Young Adult Heroin Task Force, of which she is a member, met for the second time Wednesday night at the Capitol to hear testimony from a number of witnesses.
Sen. Rezin is pictured here during the hearing on February 26 in Springfield.
Media reports over the past two years have made it clear that Illinois has a problem with heroin. Stories of abuse, addiction and death have been numerous and it has not been limited to one or two smaller areas of the state. It is a statewide epidemic which prompted the Illinois General Assembly to create a task force to address the problem.
The task force has been charged to conduct a study on the heroin use problem in high schools and suggest programs and policies to address the problem.
The task force is made up of seven senators and seven representatives, and two school officials appointed by the Governor, one to represent school boards and the other to represent school principals.
Rezin says the panel wants to do more than just conduct hearings – they’re looking for practical policies that can be put in place quickly.
Witnesses that provided testimony at the hearing include:
• Bill Gentes, the Project Coordinator for the Lake County Underage Drinking and Drug Prevent Task Force. Their local effort focuses on underage drinking, prescription drug abuse and marijuana issues. They were also involved in the passage of the aggressive statewide social host law that became law in 2013.
• Kathy Kane-Willis from Roosevelt University in Chicago. She has conducted extensive research into drug policy and resistance education, and drug abuse. She talked about the link and interaction between drug policy and the criminal justice system.
• Dr. Joseph Troinani, Will County Director of Behavioral Health. He has worked for decades in the area of mental health and substance abuse. As Director of Behavioral Health he oversees Will County’s Addictions Program and is involved in local efforts to combat heroin use with Will County HELPS (Heroin Education Leads to Preventative Solutions)
• The committee also learned about the criminal justice side of the issue from Christian County State Attorney, Mike Havera and Macoupin County Assistant States Attorney Jordan Garrison.
Below is a tentative list of future meetings of the task force:
March 1 – Rockford
Rock Valley College, Woodward Tech Ctr, Rm 119, 3301 N. Mulford Rd., Rockford
Saturday, March 01, 2014 11:00 AM-2:00 PM.
March 22 – Grayslake
Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital-Grayslake Campus- Mallard and Heron Rooms
Saturday, March 22, 2014 10:00 AM-1:00 PM.
April 19 – Plainfield
April 28 – O’Fallon
O’Fallon High School,
May 17 – Aurora