IN THIS ISSUE:
This week in Springfield, both the House and Senate were in Session Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Floor action was limited as both Chambers focused primarily on progressing bills through committees before the looming committee deadline at the end of March.
Heroin Task Force Unveils Legislation to Address the Heroin Addiction,
Abuse and Overdose Epidemic in Illinois
A 39 member House Bipartisan Task Force was formed in response to the growing heroin epidemic among teens and young adults throughout the state of Illinois. The task force convened hearings throughout Illinois to better understand the problems and solutions of heroine abuse. The task force heard testimony from treatment centers, addicts, law enforcement, doctors, and coroners on heroin abuse and its correlation to prescription drug abuse.
Subsequent to these hearings, a select few members of the committee developed, drafted and filed HB 1, which is being touted as a “comprehensive” solution to the heroin abuse epidemic in Illinois. The comprehensive solution includes but is not limited to significant and costly pharmacy mandates; prescription mandates resulting in potential Medicaid costs; insurance mandates; coroner reporting requirements; dispensation of an opioid antagonists to first responders, family members of addicts, and school officials; heroin conviction and sentencing guidelines; and the development of an opiate drug prevention program for schools. At the press conference announcing the proposal, Rep. Lou Lang (D-Chicago), Chairman of the Task Force, estimated the cost of the legislation will be approximately $25 million.
Of most importance to retail is the unfunded drug collection mandate upon pharmacies. This mandate requires all pharmacies in Illinois to serve as a take-back location for controlled substances and prescription and over-the-counter medicines. This would require every pharmacy to abide by recent cost prohibitive U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) regulations that impose various registration, receptacle, security, and recordkeeping requirements on a pharmacy that chooses to be a drug take-back location. It is important to emphasize the DEA only changed their rules to allow pharmacies to serve as drug take-back locations. The DEA did not mandate that they do so. HB 1, however, does require all pharmacies to be drug take-back locations subject to DEA rules. In drafting its rules, the DEA acknowledged there is a cost to entities that choose to provide these methods of collection and destruction. The DEA acknowledged that some of the costs could be offset by funding and support from States, local governments, and private companies that are involved with pharmaceuticals. Unfortunately, HB 1 does not contain a funding mechanism and requires pharmacies, and only pharmacies, to bear the burden of all costs associated with the program including but not limited to receptacles, collection,
disposal, transportation, sorting, logging, DEA liability, fines and security measures associated with the program. There are additional requirements that affect numerous industries and state and local agencies. The sponsors have indicated a willingness to dialogue on the proposal. IRMA shares the concerns of the sponsors regarding the heroin problem in Illinois and realizes that this problem may only be solved through a shared responsibility approach that includes all industries, State and local agencies that are involved with pharmaceuticals, drug rehabilitation and substance abuse. IRMA looks forward to working with the sponsors to ensure an equitable solution is developed.
This week the House Committee on Consumer Protection considered testimony on the seafood labeling bill, HB 133 Amendment #1 (Rep. Andre Thapedi, D-Chicago). The bill, which essentially duplicates the federal Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) law, was originally held in committee, in part, because it referred to the common name of the fish instead of the market name as is noted in federal law. It also included processed fish which is not included in the COOL regulations. In the interim, IRMA spoke with the sponsor regarding our specific concern about the inclusion of processed fish and our overall concern that such matters of interstate commerce are already being appropriately addressed by the federal government. Determined to move the issue forward, the sponsor substituted some permanent members of the committee with temporary members in order to put the votes together to pass the bill. The bill was then voted out of committee on a partisan vote and it will be sent to the House floor for additional consideration. The bill could be heard by the full House as early as next week. IRMA is working with the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association and the Illinois Farm Bureau to defeat this bill which is at best redundant and at worst a confusing, duplicative effort that would cause Illinois businesses to have two different labels for fresh and frozen seafood when the federal government makes changes to its labeling regulations. Duplicate labels will lead to confusion for consumers, higher compliance costs for businesses, and, as Illinois is a state with a large number of distribution centers, significantly increase the cost and complexity of distribution. IRMA would like to thank Representatives Norrine Hammond (R-Macomb), Thomas Bennett (R-Watseka), Avery Bourne (R-Litchfield), Peter Breen, (R-Lombard), Randy Frese (R-Quincy), David McSweeney (R-Lombard), and Grant Wehrli (R-Naperville) who voted against the proposal in committee.
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