Manar Buffington KahlA prescription dated 1987 was among the unwanted medications turned in during a drug takeback event in Macoupin County sponsored by State Senator Andy Manar, local pharmacies and county officials.

The event was meant to raise awareness about opioid abuse in Macoupin County and to encourage area residents to dispose of old, unused and unwanted prescription and over-the-counter medications from their homes. Studies have linked the explosion in heroin abuse to increased availability of prescription opioid painkillers.

“Unused medication has a way of stacking up in our homes because we think we might need it later or we’re not sure how to get rid of it,” said Manar (D-Bunker Hill). “What we’re seeing today, however, is that these pills are magnets for theft because they fuel addiction. The best thing we all can do is get into the habit of routinely purging unwanted and expired medications from our homes.”

In all, area residents disposed of more than 100 pounds of medications during the drug takeback, which occurred April 29 at four pharmacies in Macoupin County: Sullivan’s Pharmacy in Staunton and Michelle’s Pharmacy locations in Carlinville, Bunker Hill and Gillespie.

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Category: Latest News

ManarAVR05052017

 After carefully negotiating changes requested by the governor, state agencies and other stakeholders, Senator Andy Manar passed automatic voter registration legislation out of the Illinois Senate with unanimous support Friday.

“I am proud that the state Senate once again has voted to bring automatic voter registration to Illinois, and I hope the House will follow our lead and that Governor Rauner will sign it into law,” said Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat and longtime champion of expanding voter access.

“When it comes to modernizing state government, automatic voter registration checks all the boxes: it eliminates redundant paperwork, it cuts down on the number of times people have to interact with a government office, it curbs voter fraud, and it saves money. The time is right for this reform.”

Senate Bill 1933 would establish an automatic voter registration system in Illinois by July 1, 2018.

Under the system, qualified voters would be automatically registered to vote when they visit the Illinois secretary of state and other state agencies for services. Voters would be able to opt out of the system if they wish. A series of checks would ensure no one is registered to vote that should not be.

Illinois currently has an opt-in voter registration system in which adults who are 18 or older must find, fill out and submit a voter registration form to an appropriate government agency. Voters frequently forget to update their voter registrations when they move, change marital status or go to college, causing confusion at the polls and inaccuracies on the state’s voter rolls.

Automatically registering voters when they do business with the state enables government to do away with redundant paperwork, streamline bureaucracy and be more cost effective for taxpayers.

ManarMediaAVR 05052017Manar said the legislation and the 48-0 vote it received in the Senate Friday is a excellent example of the bipartisanship that is possible in the Legislature when people are compelled to work together.

“In the end, this effort is going to register people to vote, no matter who they vote for – Democrats or Republicans. It’s going to save money, modernize government and streamline our system,” he said. “And it’s going to lead more citizens of our state, regardless of where they live or their party affiliation, to participate in our electoral process. That means we all win as citizens of the state of Illinois.”

Ra Joy of CHANGE Illinois commended Manar and the Senate for passing the measure.

“Automatic voter registration will ensure every eligible voter — Democrat, Republican or Independent — has an opportunity to have their voice heard on Election Day,” Joy said. “Updating and modernizing our outdated voter registration system will also streamline the registration process, strengthen security and save time and money. We applaud the senators who voted to move this common-sense reform forward."

Last year, a national report estimated that automatic voter registration could add an additional 1.13 million eligible Illinois voters to the rolls.

Category: Latest News

Thanks to a proposal State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) passed through the Illinois Senate this week, Illinois residents will be less likely to find themselves living in a new library taxing district without their consent.

Manar’s proposal, Senate Bill 864, was approved 55-0 Wednesday in the Senate.

“Taxation without representation was one of the principals our founding fathers fought against,” Manar said. “Libraries are important assets to our communities, but property taxpayers deserve to have a say on their property tax bill.”

The measure was prompted by a municipal library in Macoupin County that converted to a public library district. The new public library taxing district included three additional communities that had not been included in the former taxing district.

Similar situations are happening across the state. Because of ambiguous phrasing of current state law, residents in those communities did not have a direct say in whether they wished to be included in the taxing district for a library potentially many miles from their home.

Senate Bill 864 bars a public library from converting to a library district that includes areas not previously taxed before the conversion without direct approval of local governments. It will close two loopholes currently in the law that allow municipal library to become a library district without the consent of municipalities and areas that would be included and taxes in the new district.

Category: Latest News

Conor’s Law would require those under 21 to be released from jail to an adult

Vespers 1Conor Vesper was a happy child, a joy to raise, a compassionate friend to all, an animal lover, valedictorian of his high school class, a college biology major on a full-ride scholarship and a young man with a bright future, his mother recalled through tears Tuesday.

“We were blessed and honored to be a part of Conor’s life,” Alice Vesper said, addressing a panel of state senators with her husband, Jack, at her side and surrounded by photographs of their son taken at the family’s home in Staunton.

Conor Vesper’s life was cut short May 23, 2015, following his arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol. His family and friends are asking state lawmakers to prevent what happened to him from happening to other young adults.

According to news reports from the time and to Senate testimony on Tuesday, 20-year-old Conor Vesper had been arrested in Carlinville early that morning for alleged DUI. He was taken to jail, posted bond and was released.

His blood alcohol level was .124, which impaired his judgement, his parents said. He walked 13 blocks home to his apartment and drove off in his roommate’s car, headed toward Staunton. His erratic driving caught the attention of police from four agencies, who gave chase. Conor Vesper later died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The Vespers’ state senator, Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), is sponsoring Senate Bill 2185, or Conor’s Law, which would require that anyone under 21 who is arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs can only be released to the custody of a responsible adult or upon passage of a voluntary breathalyzer test.

“We wish every day that Conor had been locked up that night,” Alice Vesper told members of the Illinois Senate’s Criminal Law Committee Tuesday, but state law allowed him to be released from jail on his own even though he was still intoxicated. “No one could have predicted the dreadful outcome.”

Other states differentiate how police should handle the release of underage men and women who may not be sober.

“This proposal was brought to me about a year ago by Conor’s family as a response to what can only be described as an incredibly tragic situation,” Manar said. “My heart goes out to the Vesper family. They have suffered a tremendous loss and desperately want to prevent another family from going through the same anguish.”

Alice Vesper said she and her husband do not condone drinking and driving, and that they are thankful no one else was harmed the night their son chose to drive under the influence.

But, she suggested, more should be done to protect young adults and the law enforcement officers who must release them from jail when they are in no condition to be on the streets.

“We cannot undo what has happened,” Alice Vesper said. “But Conor would want us to advocate for this law and to see something good come out of this life-changing loss for our family.”

Senate Bill 2185 passed out of the Criminal Law Committee Tuesday evening 11-0.

Category: Latest News

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