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Senate Week in Review: Free Diabetes Assessments, 500 Gaming Licenses Approved, GOP Sen. Calls for End to Illinois Sports Facilities Authority

A compiled review of Senate activities from the week.

Springfield, Ill. – State Sen. Ron Sandack (R-Downers Grove) has partnered with Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital to provide free diabetes assessments for the public on Wednesday, Nov. 14, which is Diabetes Awareness Day in Illinois.

The assessments will take place from 10 a.m. to noon at the Downers Grove Park District Recreation and Fitness Center located at 4500 Belmont Road in Downers Grove.  

“As a member of the Illinois Legislative Diabetes Caucus, I wanted to help spread awareness and make these assessments available in an effort to promote early detection,” Sen. Sandack.  “The earlier a person is diagnosed with diabetes and receives the proper care, the better.”  

Diabetes events are taking place across the state on Nov. 14, held mostly by other members of the Illinois Legislative Diabetes Caucus. Each site has partnered with local hospitals to go to community organizations, office buildings, and other local businesses to provide the assessments or screenings and education.

“We felt that people are more likely to be assessed if the assessments are convenient, fast and free,” Sen. Sandack said. “I’m pleased that Good Samaritan Hospital and I could work together to promote community wellness.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 40 percent of the population has diabetes and has not yet been diagnosed. Currently, 800,000 adults in Illinois have diabetes with care costs estimated at $7.3 billion annually.

“Good Samaritan Hospital is honored to partner with Sen. Sandack and participate in Diabetes Awareness Day,” said hospital President David Fox. “As part of the largest health care system in the state, we are committed to reducing the incidence of diabetes in our communities and helping educate about diabetes risk factors and treatment options.”

Illinois Diabetes Awareness Day was established on July 17, 2012 by Public Act 97-819 in an effort to shed light on a growing epidemic of diabetes in Illinois and the United States.

For more information on Diabetes Awareness Day, or to take the risk assessment test, visit www.ilgadiabetes.com.  You can also visit the Illinois Legislative Diabetes Caucus Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Illinois-Legislative-Diabetes-Caucus.

Illinois voters headed to the polls on Nov. 6 and while most were focused on electing their candidates of choice, Sen. Sandack said this election year voters weighed in on other important issues when they cast their ballot.

Also this week, video gaming applications continue to pour into the Illinois Gaming Board, and one Senate Republican lawmaker is calling for an elimination of the state’s Sports Facilities Authority.

On Election Day, Illinois voters shot down a proposed amendment to the state’s Constitution that would have made it more difficult for a public body, such as the state Legislature and local governments, to increase pension benefits. If approved, the amendment would have required a three-fifths majority vote to increase someone’s pension, instead of the current simple majority vote that is now required.

However, the proposal failed to meet the two criteria that would have secured its passage. To pass, the amendment could have received either an affirmative vote from 3/5 of those who voted on the proposal, or at least 50 percent of the total votes cast in the election. Almost 5 million Illinoisans voted in the election. With 99 percent of the precincts reported, the amendment had received about 58 percent of the “yes” vote—not the 60 percent needed for passage and less than 48 percent of total ballots voted in favor of the amendment.

Though the proposal (HJRCA 49) received almost unanimous support from state lawmakers looking to make it more difficult to increase retirement benefits in the face of Illinois’ pension funding crisis, it received backlash from unlikely bedfellows. Good government groups panned the amendment as weak reform, saying a more comprehensive overhaul of the state pension system is needed. Similarly, union representatives, employees and retirees spoke out against the proposal; however, they objected to the limitations that would be placed on employees’ future contracts and, possibly, current employees’ pensions.

Outside of election news, the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) reports that a month after video gaming terminals became operational in Illinois, almost 500 licenses have been approved.

During its monthly meeting on Oct. 17 and 18, the Illinois Gaming Board approved 154 additional licenses, bringing the total number to 495 licensed establishments, fraternal and veterans’ organizations, and truck stops. These establishments and organizations are allowed to install up to five licensed video gaming terminals. According to the Gaming Board, out of the 495 licenses, only 500 machines are actually up and operating.

At this time, there are more than 3,300 applications for video gaming licenses pending, and an IGB representative said that they have seen a surge in applicant submissions since video gaming commenced on Oct. 9. All applications will be processed and investigated in the order they were received.

However, some communities aren’t willing to gamble on video gaming. The Gaming Board knows of between 340-350 communities out of 1400 that have a gambling prohibition ordinance at this time. Communities are not required to inform the IGB if they have passed a video gaming ban, which is why an exact number is difficult to determine.

Last week, Sen. Sandack reported that Governor Quinn appointed his pick to head the multimillion dollar entity that runs U.S. Cellular Field.  It was a political maneuver that Sen. Sandack described as “yet another typical Illinois appointment of someone objectively unqualified to be a member of an important board.”  This week, a top Illinois Senate Republican budget negotiator says it's time to eliminate the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority (ISFA).

State Senator Matt Murphy (R-Palatine) said Governor Quinn's maneuvering to install a former spokeswoman to lead the Sports Authority is just the most recent example of why it is time to eliminate the agency. Murphy noted that the Authority has no responsibilities for the day-to-day operation of either Cellular Field or Soldier Field, but is in fact a conduit for the public financing of the facilities.  

Murphy noted that many existing entities could perform those duties without requiring a $176,000 director to oversee five employees. He also emphasized that the executive director position has been vacant for well over a year and it hasn't had any effect at all on either Cellular Field or Soldier Field.

Murphy said Governor Quinn's last minute firing of a board member, so that the Governor would get to install his former spokeswoman as head of the Authority is just one reason why the agency should be eliminated. For years the ISFA has been prone to abuse, as board members use their positions to score tickets and perks.

Sen. Sandack agreed with Sen. Murphy’s point that at a time when Illinois must make difficult decisions about healthcare for the poor and retirement funding for teachers and other public employees, it is simply wrong to retain a superfluous entity like the Sports Facilities Authority.

As a reminder, Sen. Sandack has partnered with Passages Hospice in Lisle to collect non-perishable food and winter clothing for local residents in need from now until the end of November.  The items will be donated to the Greater Chicago Food Depository and Goodwill of Naperville.

Sen. Sandack said the most-needed food items are boxed casseroles, instant potato and rice dishes, hearty soups, and canned vegetables and fruits.  Gently used winter clothing, coats, hats and gloves are also needed.

Items can be dropped off at the Passages Hospice office located at 515 Warrenville Road in Lisle.  For more information on the drive or about the organization, please call Passages Hospice at 630-824-0400 or visit Passages Hospice on the web at www.passageshospice.com.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

BUTCH January 11, 2013 at 06:24 PM
I believe Murph has it right on the Sports authority isn't a recent LOTTO MILLIONAIRE currently leading the agency or is it Navy Pier? Do u think the fix was in?

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