Legislator looks toward spring session

Hinsdale's state rep shares accomplishments, priorities in Illinois General Assembly

Just before the spring session of the 103rd General Assembly began Tuesday in Springfield, The Hinsdalean spoke with the village' state representative and state senator about their recent accomplishments and priorities for this session. This is the first of a two-part series, with an article on state Sen. Suzy Glowiak Hilton set to run next week.

State Rep. Jenn Ladisch Douglass (D-45, Elmhurst) celebrated her first year in office Jan. 11, just days before the spring session started.

"It's been a whirlwind of a year, but it's been an incredible time," she said. "I've really, really enjoyed it and am looking forward to this year."

An attorney who worked for Sidley Austin for three years from 2005-08 and then started her own firm in 2011, Ladisch Douglass said she has learned a lot in the past year.

"I have enjoyed getting a better understanding of the legislative process and knowing what needs to be done now to get things passed and through," she said. "From the first half (of the session) to the second half, I figured that out, and I was able to move bills a lot more quickly because I understood the process."

The legislation she is most proud of passing is the Access to Affordable Insulin Act. She was the lead sponsor on House Bill 2189 and credited Rep. Will Guzzardi for his work on it as well.

"I was very happy to be able to make some changes and create new policy to improve access for people who are uninsured," said Ladisch Douglass, who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes as a teen.

"Having to work on my own healthcare for 31 years and find coverage and work on affordability has driven me to this role to try to help with policy to make things better," she said.

She also worked on bills to address a property tax assessment issue, provide free death certificates for individuals who have served in the military, mandate larger buildings to have water filling stations, require the state to continue to cover telehealth visits with mental health providers and extend the personal income tax exemption that was set to sunset.

In the spring session, she plans to work on adding coverage for continuous glucose monitors for Type 2 diabetics to state health plans.

She also is working on a bill that would require prescription drug manufacturers to come to Illinois to help address compliance issues with medications made overseas and drug shortages.

"If we can work on taking some of those common drugs that are off-patent and make them here, it could be really good for the constituency," she said.

She also hopes to pass bills to reduce the cost of the bonds libraries must obtain for their treasurers, address language that was inadvertently removed from a bill that eliminated the terms of forest district commissions and update real estate licensure requirements.

"I know I'll be working on some other bills related to mental health, possibly with our schools, and I've talked to a lot of people in the last couple of weeks about some issues and look forward to helping out however I can," she said.

Ladisch Douglass, who serves on seven committees and two subcommittees, is co-chair of the violence reduction and prevention subcommittee of the appropriations committee for public safety.

"I knew going into this that public safety was extremely important to the district and got on appropriations for public safety because I wanted to, of course, learn but be present with our law enforcement and emergency services and be able to help make sure they got what they needed to be able to do their jobs."

Ladisch Douglass said she's eager to begin her second year in office.

"I really care about the community and am here to serve and to try to help," she said. "I hope people will reach out." Constituents can call her Westmont office at (630) 413-1080 or email her at [email protected].

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean