Lawmakers aim to keep Poison Control Center open

May 8, 2014

Legislators are coming to the rescue of the state's Poison Control Center, which is threatening to close after a years of state funding cuts.  There's a concern the rescue plan will hurt 911 call centers, especially in college towns.

A plan approved by the Senate, on a 43 to 13 vote, would stave off closure of the Poison Control Center, a not-for-profit. The money would come from a cell phone fee Illinois already charges, that has gone somewhat untapped.

But Illinois' 911 systems consider it a diversion of money they were supposed to receive for needed upgrades. They largely depend on a fee charged on land lines. As more people switch to cell phones, fee collections have declined. That's a concern everywhere, but Sen. Chapin Rose, a Republican from Mahomet, says that's especially true in college towns, where kids and their cell phones flock from all over.

"All the college kids, say at a Carbondale, or a Charleston or a Western or wherever they may be, from the suburbs, that tax, that fee that's collected, goes back to that home county, where the phone is registered; where the 847s ... the 773s, uh, the 312s. "

Rose says that ends up starving the local 911 centers in college towns.