Illinois Public Media News
An Indiana House committee has approved a bill for a broad statewide smoking ban that's tougher than a proposal that failed in the Legislature last year.
The House health committee voted 9-3 in favor of the bill Wednesday after adding an exemption for retail tobacco shops. The bill would prohibit smoking in most public places and workplaces, including bars. The proposal would allow smoking only on the gambling floors of casinos, fraternal and veterans clubs and cigar and hookah bars.
Its sponsors expect some legislators will try to add exemptions for bars when the bill is debated in the full House.
A Senate committee chairman says a bar exemption that the House approved last year might be needed for the restrictions to win passage.
Anti-smoking advocates close to success in the Indiana General Assembly must wait out House Democrats' boycott of a divisive labor bill.
The three-day standoff between Republicans and Democrats has put the statewide smoking ban and many other popular issues on hold. Anti-smoking advocates remain optimistic. Democratic Rep. Charlie Brown, of Gary, says "the impasse'' likely will end next week.
Some House committees have begun taking "straw votes'' on measures because they technically have not yet received legislative proposals. They would later take a formal vote after the Democrats end their boycott.
The boycott has even put some question on whether the House can properly gavel in for Gov. Mitch Daniels State of the State address Tuesday. Although Daniels spokeswoman Jane Jankowski says he is planning on delivering the annual speech.
Obesity is hitting Latino children in the United States harder than any other demographic, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Angela Wiley, a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is trying to curb that trend in immigrant communities living in Illinois. She heads the Up Amigos project, which looks at how biological, social, and environmental factors affect rates of obesity and diabetes. Illinois Public Radio's Rachel Otwell talks with Wiley about her research.
(Photo courtesy of the University of Illinois)
A new push is under way in the Indiana Legislature for a statewide smoking ban a year after the failure of a similar bill that health advocates assailed as too weak.
The bill announced Thursday by Republican Rep. Eric Turner of Cicero would prohibit smoking in most public places and workplaces, including bars. The only exemptions it includes are the gambling floors of casinos and pari-mutuel betting parlors, private clubs and cigar and hookah bars.
The House last year approved a bill that exempted bars from the smoking ban. Health advocates argued that was too great an exemption, but a Senate committee chairman argued it was needed to win Senate passage.
Turner says he believes greater public support and Gov. Mitch Daniels' support will help the broader ban this year.
Illinois state law already requires home buyers to be informed if the house they are buying has been found to have high levels of radon ---which is radioactive and a cancer risk. Now, that requirement also applies to renters.
Legislation that took effect this week requires landlords to tell prospective tenants if a rental home or apartment has tested for radon above hazardous levels. The testing is still voluntary, and landlords are not required to do anything to reduce high radon levels. But Patrick Daniels of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency said the requirement could still be beneficial, because it could "start a dialog between the renter and the landlord to discuss radon as an issue in rental property."
Esther Patt of the Champaign-Urbana & U of I Campus Tenant Unions said warning prospective renters about high radon levels could influence landlords' actions.
'They still do have this duty to disclose, and could have problems if they're caught not having disclosed," Patt said. "So, one would think that this would motivate at least some landlords who are made aware of radon danger at their property to take actions to eliminate that radon threat."
Landlords are required to inform prospective tenants about hazardous radon levels, whether they have a test done on the rental unit, or if the tenant does the test. But if they take action to reduce the radon danger --- or if a later test shows radon levels are lower, they don't have to tell tenants anything.
The requirement does not apply to apartments on the third floor or above.
Radon is a radioactive gas that occurs naturally from decaying uranium in soil. It's considered the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers.
The pharmaceutical company, Abbott and the University of Illinois have set up a center that is focused on the connection between nutrition and the health of the brain.
Located on the Urbana-Champaign campus, the Center for Nutrition, Learning and Memory is looking for research proposals that would be funded for a year. The Center's director is Neal Cohen, who heads the university's neuroscience program. He said nutritional scientists are pushing to know more about the role of nutrition in learning and memory.
"At the same time, neuroscientist are looking for ways to impact the brain that has included the effects of exercise and now the effects of nutrition," Cohen said. "This project is right at the intersection of that."
The center plans to use the U of I's existing research facilities at the Institute for Genomic Biology and the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology.
The first call for research proposals closes on January 6, and those submissions will then be narrowed down to several final projects, which will receive funding.
Health Dis. Won't Meet January Goal for Posting Restaurant Inspections Online
--- Reported by Dan Petrella, CU Citizen Access
Despite promises over the past four years to post restaurant inspection reports online, the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District will miss another self-imposed deadline to do so.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday marks the return of Carle physicians to the Kirby hospital campus in Monticello.
Carle had a building on the old Kirby hospital grounds for years, until a business dispute between the two forced Carle to move into temporary buildings. But a new agreement was reached, and a new building next to the new Kirby Medical Center should be fully open by Monday. Carle Monticello medical director, Dr. Steven Sparenberg, says being neighbors with the hospital again will be a plus for their patients.
"The community's going to have the benefit from having everything in one location for both in-patient and obviously for out-patient services," he said. "It helps keep medical care closer to home, and we have the support of the radiology and lab services through Kirby Medical Center."
Sparenberg says the new Carle building offers twice as much room as the temporary buildings they used. And he says it provides room for visiting specialists, as well as additional physicians who could be hired as soon as 2012. The new Kirby Medical Center campus is located on the edge of Monticello, just off I-72.
Former workers at a shuttered auto parts making plant in the Detroit enclave of Highland Park say the plant may have contaminated the area with a cancer-causing chemical.
The Detroit Free Press reports Tuesday that known carcinogen hexavalent chromium was used at the Chrome Craft plant.
Saad Bolos of Madison Heights worked at the plant 17 years and says leaks included a rooftop pipe that spilled into an alley.
The Chrome Craft plant is owned by Urbana, Ill.-based Flex-N-Gate Group, a manufacturer of bumper systems for pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles. The company says it has fully investigated the claim and says it has no knowledge of leaks or violations.
Flex-N-Gate is owned by Shahid Khan, an Urbana businessman who hopes to win approval this week from NFL owners to buy the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Flex-N-Gate bought Chrome Craft in 2005. In a 2009 lawsuit, Khan said he was a partner in Chrome Craft dating back to 1993.
Four inspections at the plant from 1992 until its closure found 39 violations of environmental laws, according to documents gathered by the UAW.
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality plans to investigate the claims about the plant, which closed about two years ago.
Northeast Elementary Magnet School in Danville has earned national recognition for its approach to fighting childhood obesity --- by teaching its students how to stay healthy. It's the subject of the first report in our WILL-Connect initiative on health and wellness. Reporter Lisa Braddock paid a visit to the school to see how the program works.
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