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Koehler

  • A win for young builders and school management in Pekin

    koehler 040616SPRINGFIELD – Each year, students at Pekin Community High School participate in a buildings trade program, where students learn construction skills and build a home, after which, the school district sells the new home and uses the revenue to fund the program the next year.

    Legislation sponsored by State Senator Dave Koehler (D – Peoria) that just passed in the Senate will make the selling process much easier for the district by allowing it to use a real estate agent without first going through an auction or bid process.

    “This program is a great example of self-sustainability and goes a long way in showing students the value of hard work in an important trade,” Sen. Koehler said. “By making it easier for the district to sell the homes its students build, we show support for a valuable program that engages and builds up the community in a financially independent way.”

    Under current law, building trade houses must be sold the same way as other state-owned real estate is sold – a sometimes convoluted process that leaves Pekin Community High School District 303 jumping through time-consuming hoops.

    The district’s ability to engage a real estate agent is contingent upon the property being publicly listed for at least two weeks.

    The legislation, Senate Bill 2823, now goes to the House of Representatives.

  • Amid deadlock, Koehler still finds savings for the vulnerable

    koehler 040616SPRINGFIELD – Seniors and disabled property owners in supportive living facilities will soon be able to keep their property tax savings thanks to successful legislation from Senator Dave Koehler (D – Peoria).

    The measure updates current law to allow a taxpayer moving into a supportive living facility to keep their homestead exemption. Currently, homestead exemptions apply to specific nursing facilities, not including supportive living facilities.

    “Seniors and disabled property owners should not have to pay more in property taxes because their health or family situations have forced them into a nursing facility,” said Sen. Koehler. “And we cannot allow some facility residents to keep their benefits, while residents in other similar facilities cannot.”

    Supportive living facilities are a newer type of nursing home care option officially defined in 2006 as an alternative, more independent-living option for low-income seniors and disabled persons under Medicaid.

    “Even in these trying times, we can still find substantive solutions to protect the well-being of our state’s most vulnerable,” Koehler said.

    The legislation, Senate Bill 2934, passed the Senate and now heads to the House for further action.

  • Automatic voter registration moves forward in Illinois (VIDEO, AUDIO)

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  • Farmington students push lawmakers to improve education funding

    koehler frmgtnSPRINGFIELD — Amid growing uncertainty about the future of education funding in Illinois, a groups of Farmington students recently traveled to the Capitol to lend their voice to the effort to overhaul how the state funds public schools.

    “We are Illinois’ future. You should give us all a fair chance,” said Michael Morrison, 14, who will be a freshman at Farmington High School in the fall.

    Morrison was among the students, teachers and administrators who observed proceedings and met with their local lawmakers during the last scheduled day of the Illinois General Assembly’s spring session. Lawmakers later adjourned without sending a final education budget to the governor.

  • Few specifics, missed opportunities in governor's budget speech (VIDEO)

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  • Governor signs mental health law inspired by Bartonville family’s tragedy

    koehler mntl hlthSPRINGFIELD – The governor signed a law that would give college students the authority to allow their university to share mental health information with their parents today.

    It was inspired by the Predmore family of Bartonville, who tragically lost their son Chris to suicide last year. Under previous Illinois law, his college could not talk to his parents about his mental health struggles.

    A number of recent studies indicate that psychological problems are a growing issue on college campuses. For example, a survey found that 70 percent of college counseling center directors believe that the number of students with severe psychological problems has increased in recent years. Surveys of college students themselves have shown that depression and anxiety have skyrocketed over the past several decades – perhaps as many as a quarter or third of students meet criteria for anxiety or depression during college.

    “If I had a child in college who was considering committing suicide, I would want to know,” said Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria), who sponsored the legislation in the Illinois Senate. “For many students, college is a time of transition when mental illnesses first manifest themselves.”

    The law gives newly enrolled college students the opportunity to authorize the university to share mental health records with their parents or other trusted adults. The university would only share information when students are found to be a danger to themselves or others.

    “Yes, college students are adults who deserve privacy rights,” Koehler said. “But many are living on their own for the first time and still rely on their parents for advice and support. This law respects student privacy while still allowing parents to be involved. It also could start important conversations about mental illness.”

    The measure, House Bill 3599, was sponsored by state Representative Dave Leitch (R-Peoria) in the Illinois House. It will take effect next year.

  • Highway dedicated in honor of fallen Tazewell County soldier

    09082017KI0075 NORTH PEKIN – A state highway was renamed in honor of a fallen Tazewell County soldier today. Part of Route 98 was renamed the “Sgt. Dean Russell Shaffer Memorial Highway” after two Peoria area lawmakers passed a resolution at the General Assembly this Spring.

    State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) introduced Senate Joint Resolution 20 with State Representative Mike Unes (R-East Peoria) to honor Sgt. Dean Shaffer, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2012.

    Sgt. Shaffer was a graduate of Pekin Community High School and was serving with the U.S. Army’s 25th Infantry Division when the Black Hawk helicopter he was on crashed during a medivac mission in Helmand Province, killing on board. Sgt. Shaffer had previously been deployed to Iraq.

  • Koehler issues statement on closing of Dickson Mounds Museum

    dickson mounds closingSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria), who represents Lewistown, home of Dickson Mounds Museum, issued the following statement about the museum’s closing. Gov. Rauner decided to close the museum to the public today, despite the fact that employees are still reporting to work.

    “Locking the public out of Dickson Mounds while all of the employees are still on the job makes it even more obvious that Gov. Rauner’s decision to close the state museums is based on politics, not sound public policy. Let’s be clear – the state isn’t seeing any cost savings, but businesses in Lewistown and surrounding communities are going to start seeing lost revenue.”

  • Koehler joins Senate colleagues to end budget impasse

    koehler 022817SPRINGFIELD – Members of the Illinois Senate voted to pass parts of a comprehensive package of legislation meant to end the historic two-year budget impasse. The legislation, commonly known as the “grand bargain,” was the result of months of negotiations between Senate President John Cullerton and Minority Leader Christine Radogno.

    State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) voted for the legislation.

    “The people contacting my office have made it clear that they want us to do our jobs and pass a budget,” Koehler said. “This two-year impasse has been long enough; it is time to act.”

    The measures in the grand bargain include a plan to address the state’s budget deficit, local government consolidation measures and a budget for the remainder of the fiscal year.

     

  • Koehler passes assisted living homestead exemption passes

    koehler 022817SPRINGFIELD – Legislation that would extend the homestead property tax exemption to individuals in supportive living facilities was passed in the Illinois Senate today. Senate Bill 1887 would extend the property tax homestead exemption to seniors, veterans and individuals with disabilities living in a supportive living program

    Currently, an individual can be awarded the homestead exemption when they become a resident of a nursing home and still own their original place of residence. 

    State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) is the legislation’s sponsor.

    “This is a crucial step in guaranteeing that our citizens are being treated fairly by the tax system,” Koehler said. “That is why I believe we should extend this exemption to individuals in assisted living facilities the same way we do for nursing homes.”

    The measure now moves to the House of Representatives.

  • Koehler passes measure cutting red tape

    Food serviceSPRINGFIELD – A redundant food handling certificate required by the state will be no more under legislation passed by the Illinois Senate. House Bill 3684 would eliminate the certificate and $35 fee, helping small business owners and workers.

    Currently, the Illinois Department of Public Health requires workers to complete an approved training program and pass an exam provided by an accredited exam provider. After the person passes the exam and pays for the national certificate, they are required to electronically send that certificate to the state and pay $35 for an Illinois specific certificate.

    State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) sponsored the legislation that would eliminate the $35 fee.   

    “Redundant regulations make it difficult to manage the day-to-day operations of their business instead of focusing on growing,” said Koehler, a former small business owner himself. “If and when we find these types of regulations, we should do everything we can to free those businesses from the burdensome redundancies.”

    The measure passed the Senate without opposition.

  • Koehler passes measure protecting renters

    koehler 050217SPRINGFIELD – Legislation protecting consumers from deceptive leases passed the Illinois Senate today. Senate bill 885 would protect renters from “rent-to-own” schemes that are often fraught with deceptive terms and conditions that can be costly to consumers.

    In a survey of housing counselors around the state conducted by Housing Action Illinois, only 12% of counselors reported that they felt that people considering rent-to-own homeownership opportunities well understand the differences between rent-to-own and homeownership with a mortgage.

    The new legislation would seek to address that lack of understanding by creating the Installment Sales Contract Act. Among the new protections is a requirement that a payment schedule is to be given to the buyer prior to closing, a prohibition on prepayment penalties and a requirement for a written contract with information about ballooning payments.

    State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria), the legislation’s sponsor, issued the following statement following the passage of SB 885:

    “Consumers should have as much information as possible when making one of the most important decisions of their lives. The deceptive practices often found in ‘rent-to-own’ contracts set renters up for a rude awakening. That is why we crafted legislation that seeks to bring more transparency and information to the process.”

    The measure now moves on to the House of Representatives.

  • Koehler pushes for assisted living homestead exemption

    koehler 031617SPRINGFIELD – Legislation that would extend the homestead property tax exemption to individuals in assisted living facilities was approved by the Senate Revenue Committee yesterday.

    Currently, an individual can be granted the homestead exemption when they become a resident of a nursing home and still own their original place of residence. Senate Bill 1887 would extend that exemption to individuals with disabilities, veterans with disabilities and senior citizens when they move into a Supportive Living Program facility such as an assisted living home.

    State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) is the legislation’s sponsor.

    “Updating our laws and statutes to reflect the current times is crucial to guaranteeing fairness,” Koehler said. “That is why I believe we should treat individuals in assisted living facilities the same way we treat individuals in nursing homes.”

    Senator Koehler previously passed legislation similar to SB 1887 last year that did not pass in the House of Representatives.

  • Koehler unveils new environmental protections with proposed CAFOs

    koehler cafosSPRINGFIELD – New legislation aimed at protecting the environment in rural Illinois was unveiled at the in the Illinois Senate today. State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) unveiled a package of legislation that would make changes to the regulations governing Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, or CAFOs.

    CAFOs are farm facilities with a large concentration of animals such as hogs. Recently, a plan for a CAFO that would hold 20,000 head of hogs in rural Fulton County was withdrawn after a considerable pushback from the public.

  • Koehler votes to fund local services

    koehler ardisSPRINGFIELD – State Sen. Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) voted today to release $3.1 billion in funding that has been held up by the budget impasse.

    “Today’s action was positive,” Koehler said. “I’m glad a compromise could be agreed to that authorizes spending for winter road maintenance, 911 emergency services, home heating bill assistance and other essential programs.”

    The package includes local shares of motor fuel tax revenues and ensures the lottery can pay all prize winners.

    “Authorizing dollars to be passed from the state to local governments so they can provide core services is particularly important,” Koehler said. “Local officials in central Illinois have expressed their concerns to me regarding the uncertainty of what funding they will receive from the state this year.
    Thankfully, once this is signed into law, they will have clarity.”

    The legislation frees up gas tax money for communities in Peoria, Tazewell and Fulton Counties that can be used to patch potholes and prepare for winter storms.

    State transportation officials haven’t provided exact numbers on how much communities are owed. Last year, though, across Peoria County local governments received more than $6.9 million in gas tax money. Throughout Tazewell County, local governments received more than $5.7 million last year, and in Fulton County they received more than $2.3 million.

    Dollar amounts for key components of Senate Bill 2039 are below.

    •    $582.5 million to IDOT for local governments share of motor fuel gas tax revenues.
    •    $77 million for 911-related costs.
    •    $31 million to IDOT to purchase road salt.
    •    $1 billion to the Lottery for prizes.
    •    $43 million to the Community College Board for career and technical education activities.
    •    $45 million to the Dept of Revenue so local governments can receive their share of video gaming proceeds.
    •    $2.5 million for breast cancer services and research.
    •    $28 million for nursing home licensing and inspections.
    •    $165 million for home heating bill assistance.
    •    $3.1 million to the Illinois Department of Public Health for the Tobacco Quitline.
    The House approved House Amendment 4 to Senate Bill 2039 last week, and the Senate, with Koehler’s support, approved it today. Now it’s up to the governor to sign it into law.

  • Koehler, Weaver pass resolution honoring fallen Navy SEAL

    koehler 022817SPRINGFIELD – Illinois Route 29 will have a new name in the Chillicothe city limits after a resolution was passed by the Illinois Senate today. The highway will now be named the “Senior Chief Petty Officer William ‘Ryan’ Owens Memorial Highway”.

    The resolution renaming the highway, Senate Joint Resolution 35, was sponsored by Peoria County’s two state Senators, Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) and Senator Chuck Weaver (R-Peoria). 

    “Senior Chief Owens will be remembered forever as a dedicated and selfless hero,” Koehler said. “His service in the Navy SEALs was nothing short of exemplary and will serve as a model of heroism for decades to come.” 

    Senior Chief Petty officer William ‘Ryan’ Owens was a Navy SEAL killed during a raid in Yemen in January 2017. Senior Chief Owens enlisted in the Navy in 1998, the same year he graduated from Illinois Valley Central High School in Chillicothe.

    A decorated SEAL, Senior Chief Owens was the recipient of the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, two Bronze Stars, the Purple Heart, two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation medals, the Joint Service Achievement medal, three Navy and Marine Corps Achievement medals, the Combat Action Ribbon, two Joint Meritorious Unit Awards, six Good Conduct Medals and three Presidential Unit Citations.

    Additionally, Senior Chief Owens was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for his actions in Somalia in 2015. Owens had been leading a twelve-man team alongside friendly African forces deep inside war torn Somalia when their unit was ambushed. Senior Chief Owens repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire, eventually securing a town that had been in enemy hands for ten years.

  • Koehler: Governor seeks to divide, not govern

    koehler 053017PEORIA – Governor Bruce Rauner has once again called for a special session of the Illinois General Assembly. The governor has said he will veto a school funding reform measure supported by over one hundred school superintendents and dozens of school districts.

    State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) issued the following statement:

    “Governor Rauner has demonstrated once again that he favors campaigning over governing. Rather than focusing on how he could work constructively with the General Assembly, he calls Blagojevich-style special sessions that only waste taxpayers’ dollars.

    “I am calling on the governor to sign a bill that his own administration says he supports 90% of. It is time to stop pitting one part of the state against the other for political purposes.” 

  • Koehler: Governor’s office can’t explain how it would cut spending

    koehler 022817SPRINGFIELD – Members of the Illinois Senate are calling on their colleagues to focus solely on solving the state’s budget crisis after the governor managed to derail a bipartisan compromise.

    State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) says passing a budget should be everyone’s top priority.

    “Continuing to not have a budget is unacceptable,” said Koehler. “I do not know how the state can survive if we do not come to a reasonable compromise.”

    A budget agreement negotiated between Senate President John Cullerton and Minority Leader Christine Radogno appeared to be ready for voting on until the governor began calling off Republican senators, saying the legislation didn’t go far enough to cut spending.

    This week, Koehler and other committee chairs held hearings to allow agencies under the governor’s control to show where they could cut their budgets. Administration officials were unable to offer any specifics on how much they could cut.

    “Governor Rauner has never submitted a balanced budget to the General Assembly, something he is constitutionally required to do,” said Koehler. 

     

  • Koehler: let veterans participate in Veterans Day

    koehler veteransPEORIA – As Veterans Day approaches, State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) is urging employers to honor his resolution from last year’s General Assembly and allow veteran employees some time off to participate in ceremonies and events honoring their service to our country.

    “Our veterans have given so much to our nation, and it’s important that they’re able to participate in area events on Veterans Day,” Koehler said.

    Koehler sponsored Senate Resolution 837 in response to a constituent who expressed concerns that not all employers allow veterans time off on Veterans Day.

    “I would like to thank Jim Arrowood from the UAW for initiating this resolution,” Koehler said.

    Area veterans have joined Koehler and Arrowood in supporting the resolution.

    “I feel strongly that veterans should be afforded the opportunity to participate in different parades and ceremonies honoring their fellow veterans,” said Scott Corsaut, Commander of the General Wayne A. Downing American Legion Post #1111. “Veterans truly appreciate the community support and fellowship they experience at these events.”

    Senator Koehler also wants to let the community know that the Illinois Valley Chapter of the Fuller Center for Housing is assisting low-income veterans with small home repairs and furnace safety checks. The center is now taking applications and is encouraging veterans to call (309) 363-3737 to see if they qualify.

    “This is a great service being provided by the Illinois Valley Chapter of the Fuller Center for Housing, and I encourage veterans to apply,” Koehler said.

  • Koehler: Redundant food regulation eliminated in new law

    koehler 050217PEORIA – A redundant food handling certificate is no longer required thanks to House Bill 3684, which was signed into law last week by the governor.

    Previously, the Illinois Department of Public Health required workers to complete an approved training program and pass an exam provided by an accredited exam provider.

    Upon completion of the exam, workers would receive a certificate from the accredited provider. An electronic copy of that certificate and a $35 fee were then sent to the state for an Illinois specific certificate.

    State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) sponsored HB 3684, which eliminates both the redundant state certificate and the fee.

    “This certificate was simply a well-intentioned safety precaution that created an unnecessary burden on small business owners and workers,” Koehler said. “We should take steps to reduce regulations without compromising consumer safety.”

    The measure unanimously passed both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly.