SPRINGFIELD – A steadfast supporter of keeping tobacco out of the hands of children, State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Lake Forest) passed the Preventing Youth Vaping Act through committee Wednesday.

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“Vaping- and e-cigarette-related deaths and illnesses have become a nationwide outbreak that no user is immune to — no matter how young they are,” Morrison said. “We were doing so well on changing the culture of smoking, and now we have gone backward — especially the younger generation.”

The measure would place a number of restrictions on electronic cigarettes, including prohibiting marketing tactics that use images of cartoons or video games that appeal to children. Additionally, it prohibits shops from offering discounts on electronic cigarettes and requires sellers shipping the products to ensure the purchaser is at least 21 years old.

“It’s common sense that if it’s illegal to sell these products to kids, it should be illegal to market to them,” Morrison said. “I hope the Illinois General Assembly can come to an agreement on a bill that will keep these products out of the hands of children.”

Morrison has been an advocate for putting an end to tobacco use in teens since entering the General Assembly. In 2019, she successfully passed a law that increases the age to legally purchase tobacco to 21.

Senate Bill 512 passed the Senate Executive Committee Wednesday. It now heads to the Senate floor for further consideration.

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SPRINGFIELD –To prevent poor dental health among children and teens that can cause lifelong health consequences, State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Lake Forest) is sponsoring a bill to allow preventative dental services within schools.

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“Routine dental care isn’t just about appearance – it’s about overall health and well-being that can affect every part of a child’s life,” Morrison said. “It’s time we treat dental care like other preventative health care.”

Under the measure, the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services could put in place a school-based dental program that would allow out-of-office preventative services – like teeth cleanings.

About 20% of children between the ages of 5 and 11, and about 13% of those between 12 and 19, have at least one untreated cavity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children who have poor oral health also often miss more school and receive lower grades than children who don’t.

“The best way to keep teeth healthy is through preventative dental care – but not every person has the means to go the dentist routinely,” Morrison said.

Senate Bill 346 passed the Senate Health Committee Tuesday. It now heads to the full Senate for further consideration.

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SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Lake Forest), who passed Illinois’ red flag law in 2018, commends President Joe Biden for his order for the U.S. Department of Justice to publish model red flag laws for other states to use as guides.

She released the following statement Thursday:

“In far too many mass shooting events that have taken place across our state and country, family members and friends of the shooter later identified they had threatening behavior, but the loved one didn’t know where to turn. Or, reports were made to law enforcement but there wasn’t a legal mechanism in place to get the weapon out of the hands of the perpetrator.

“We cannot idly sit back and watch innocent lives be reprehensibly taken in ways that could be halted. I commend President Biden for his broad effort to ensure the country begins to move forward with more comprehensive gun safety measures.”

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HIGHWOOD – Following more than a year of most Illinois schools being remote, State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Lake Forest) is announcing financial assistance to help districts address COVID-19 challenges.

“Teachers aren’t just educators to students – they are often friends, protectors and role models,” Morrison said. “During the pandemic, teachers stepped even further into these roles – and I can’t thank them enough.”

The funding comes as part of the most recent federal COVID-19 relief packages. Schools, students and parents have overcome challenges that no one could have imagined before the pandemic began, including remote and hybrid learning, digital connection issues, new processes for receiving state and federal aid that normally flow through schools, and more.

Local school districts are set to receive the following amounts:

  • Wheeling CCSD 21: $13,123,520
  • River Trails SD 26: $1,530,393
  • Northbrook ESD 27: $591,162
  • West Northfield SD 31: $1,741,183
  • Lake Bluff ESD 65: $372,211
  • Lake Forest SD 67: $1,022,503
  • Bannockburn SD 106: $301,669
  • Deerfield SD 109: $680,229
  • North Shore SD 112: $4,252,828
  • Twp HSD 113: $1,425,035
  • Lake Forest CHSD 115: $718,497

The majority of the funding comes from the American Rescue Plan, which gives local schools a great deal of flexibility in how they can use the money over the next 3 ½ years. At least 20% of the funding must be used to address learning loss, but beyond that, school districts can use the money to address many different issues and costs. For example, it can be used to better equip schools for safe learning, to prevent layoffs, to address students’ social and emotional needs, to fund summer programs, or to ensure all students have access to reliable Wi-Fi and technology.

The State Board of Education, in collaboration with other state agencies that address education, has produced a guide for local school districts to help them decide how to best use their resources. While the guide and other state-sponsored services are completely voluntary, the state aims to support local districts during this difficult time.

“The thought of going back to full-time in-person learning, while exciting, can also seem daunting for some teachers and students,” Morrison said. “This additional funding will ensure educators have the resources they need to help students best transition back to the classroom.”

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In total, Illinois received nearly $7 billion to support local school districts.

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