Northwest Herald

Eye On Illinois: States attempt to act when federal government lacks results

If I ever sense the inbox is growing stagnant, one sure solution is addressing immigration. I don’t even have to do the writing myself. A post-Thanksgiving column featuring only reader submissions drew angry mail opening with lines like “I usually enjoy your columns but your view today on immigration set off a nerve.”

I don’t have an actual view to share on the current influx of migrants to Illinois aside from believing anyone proclaiming a simple solution is actually revealing how little they’ve attempted to understand the situation. But the predicament expertly illustrates the frustration of waiting for government to solve a problem.

Mayors and village boards are turning to county leadership for guidance, county officials are interested in what the General Assembly might do this spring. (For a decent summary, read the Capitol News Illinois report at Most people accept the primary solutions must come at the federal level and hopefully there’s some common ground on accepting this actually is an international issue, in terms of the forces incentivizing people to leave their homelands in such large numbers.

We can view other challenges through a similar filter. Though the political implications might differ, or at least register at different intensity levels, the issue of prescription drug prices is another where some elected officials feel compelled to act rather than wait for solutions elsewhere.

On Wednesday, state Rep. Nabeela Syed, D-Palatine, and Sen. David Koehler, D-Peoria, introduced House Bill 4772, a plan to create a five-member board to put price caps on medications. According to CNI, the board would be able to limit what wholesalers, pharmacies and hospitals would be allowed to bill consumers and insurers for high-priced treatments for cancer, diabetes and autoimmune diseases.

Those positions would be paid (perhaps through an annual tax on companies that make prescription drugs), with those five state employees consulting with a different 15-member panel of lawmakers and industry experts.

Whether this idea takes off during the spring session remains to be seen, but it’s another clear representation of state lawmakers seeking temporary treatment for symptoms of a situation well beyond their actual control. As a constituent, it feels good to see someone trying to improve conditions, but we know nothing emanating from Springfield will meaningfully impact root causes.

Like immigration, health care is becoming an issue where state leaders willingly compete with each other to create – to the extent they can control – in-house versions of their views for nationwide policy. Throw other topics in the same boat: voting rules, drug legalities, gun regulation and more. When lawmakers can’t resolve issues, the courts take on outsized influence.

As voters, our role is understanding which officials can affect what outcomes – and expending influence accordingly.

Scott T. Holland writes about state government issues for Shaw Media. Follow him on X, @sth749. He can be reached at

Scott Holland

Scott T. Holland

Scott T. Holland writes about state government issues for Shaw Media Illinois. Follow him on Twitter at @sth749. He can be reached at