Drug-related bills passed

By Stephan L. Lopes

The Illinois General Assembly passed a series of bills to aid the fight against drugs and protect the U.S. and Illinois flags.

Illinois’ series of drug-related bills, passed last week, come on the heels of President Bush’s national plea to help fight the country’s drug crisis.

The new laws give Illinois the authority and funding to wage an “intensive anti-drug campaign,” said state Rep. John Countryman, R-DeKalb.

The state has mandated an unprecedented $44.3 million dollars for the drug war.

The money is part of Illinois’ plan to fight drug abuse through intensified education, treatment and law enforcement efforts.

Items of the new laws include: the death penalty for those who commit murder while making a drug transaction, mandatory drug education in elementary schools, a ban on paging devices in schools and the authority to use dogs to sniff out drugs in state schools.

One of the bills, known as House Bill 2, mandates drug education in Illinois elementary schools.

House Bill 2 states that every kindergarten through eighth grade in Illinois must provide instruction, study and discussion on effective methods of preventing and avoiding drug and substance abuse.

In other business last week, Gov. James Thompson conditionally approved legislation prohibiting the display of the U.S. and Illinois flags on the ground or floor.

Thompson returned the measure to the General Assembly along with suggestions that he said he believes would help the bill withstand constitutional challenges.