Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Bill would rename medical district

Published Monday, June 04, 2007

Springfield’s medical district would be renamed the Mid-Illinois Medical District under legislation the Illinois House approved on Friday.
The House voted 109-0 for the revised version of Senate Bill 1568, which still needs to pass in the Senate and be signed by the governor before becoming law.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Raymond Poe, R-Springfield, said the name change would reflect the fact that the medical district is meant to serve a regional area, not just Springfield.

“We have always been regional in terms of where we expect the economic and health-care benefits to accrue,” said Mike Boer, president of the medical district commission. “But that hasn’t been understood.”

SB1568 spells out that the medical district’s program area would include Cass, Christian, Logan, Macoupin, Mason, Menard, Montgomery, Morgan, Sangamon and Scott counties. The boundaries of the medical district itself would remain the same: the section of Springfield bounded by North Grand Avenue and 11th, Walnut and Madison streets.

At present, the district’s official name is the Illinois Medical District at Springfield, but it often gets called the Springfield medical district.

The new moniker could improve the district’s chances of attracting state funding because a larger number of legislators would represent the medical district territory, Poe said.

He previously introduced legislation that would have set aside $300,000 a year for the district in each of the next 10 years. That proposal didn’t advance. The money was to be used to hire employees and run an office to promote and further develop the medical district.

The funds are not included in the budget plan that House Democrats approved earlier this week, Poe said.

The money could be added, however, depending on what happens with budget negotiations during the legislative overtime that started on Friday.

“If we, as House Republicans, become players and the budget is changed any way at all, that’s one thing that (I) will be working on, to try to make sure that we get that in the budget,” Poe said.


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