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Martinez backs plan to save Illinois Poison Center

Martinez051414State Senator Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago 20th) lent her support last week to a plan to save the chronically underfunded Illinois Poison Center. The IPC has informed the General Assembly that the $1.3 million it currently receives from the state annually will not be enough to keep it open next year. It has lost a quarter of its state funding during the past few years.

“The Illinois Poison Center is an essential public health resource that prevents an estimated 35,000 unnecessary emergency room visits each year by reassuring parents and caretakers over the phone when a substance a child has ingested is not, in fact, dangerous,” Martinez said. “In the past, the IPC has been forced to rely on fund sweeps and surpluses that change every year. Now we’re working to sustain it into the future with its own funding stream.”

The IPC is Illinois’ only poison control information and treatment center and maintains a hotline that handles 82,000 calls per year, almost half of them pertaining to children five years of age or younger.

The legislation, Senate Bill 2674, also increases the amount set aside for local 911 services and guarantees a specific allocation to rural, sparsely populated counties. The funding for both the IPC and local 911 services comes from an existing surcharge on cell phone plans, prepaid calling cards and other wireless telecommunications services. If passed, the legislation will only change the way the revenue from this surcharge is distributed, not the amount of the tax; wireless customers will not see an increase on their monthly bills.

SB 2674 secured Senate approval last week and will next be considered by the House of Representatives. 

Senator Iris Y. Martinez

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Majority Caucus Chair
20th District

Years served:
2003 - Present
 
Committee assignments: Education; Energy; Gaming; Labor; Licensed Activities and Pensions (Chairperson); Transportation.

Biography: Born Feb. 25, 1956, in Chicago; earned her bachelor's degree in public policy and administration from Northeastern Illinois University in 2009; elected president of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators. She is also the Illinois Legislative Latino Caucus Co-Chair; has one daughter.