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Despite Veto, Bipartisan Majority Approves Heroin Law

Chelsea Laliberte
Brian Mackey
Chelsea Laliberte, whose brother died of an overdose, has been pushing for changes in Illinois law for years.

Illinois now has a law meant to address what's been called an epidemic of heroin abuse in the state. But it did not come easily.

Lawmakers spent more than a year holding hearings and negotiating over how best to address the state's heroin problem.

Chelsea Laliberte of Arlington Heights had been pushing for changes long before that. Her brother, Alex, died of an overdose when he was 20.

"This issue didn't become mainstream, unfortunately, until it hit upper middle class white people," Laliberte said Wednesday. "I hate to say it like that, but that really is what ended up happening."

The new law takes a multi-pronged approach, such as making it easier to get anti-overdose medicine, and letting people go through drug court more than once.

It'll also expand addiction treatment options for people with low incomes. Gov. Bruce Rauner had vetoed that of part of the legislation, saying Illinois couldn't afford it. But bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate voted to disregard him.

Brian Mackey formerly reported on state government and politics for NPR Illinois and a dozen other public radio stations across the state. Before that, he was A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.
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