Under Illinois' current system, local health departments set the rules for buying and selling food at farmers markets, which has resulted in a hodge-podge of conflicting regulations. Koehler's new law allows the Illinois Department of Public Health to establish a single set of regulations for the entire state.
"Farmers markets are such an important link between the people who truly grow our food and the consumers," said the Peoria Democrat, who chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee. "Creating a single, statewide standard will make it easier for more farmers to participate in more markets."
For example, state law requires that all raw meat be kept under 41 degrees. However, right now some local health departments require that all meats be sold frozen. Some say that farmers must use mechanical refrigeration units. Others allow coolers and ice packs.
"This change would be very helpful for local growers like me," said Doug Day, owner of Spring Bay Farm in Woodford County. "It would lower our costs, both in time and money."
The law also creates rules for offering samples and requires labels that make it easier for customers to identify where the food they buy was grown or produced.
Illinois has more than 375 farmers markets with more than 1,000 farmers and other vendors. They connect farmers and other producers directly to customers, providing locally grown and produced fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, cheeses, meats, nuts, baked goods and more.
Many now accept credit cards and debit cards, and the state has pushed to make the markets more accessible to food stamp users. Farmers markets often offer fresh produce at rates that are competitive with – or even cheaper than – grocery stores.
PEORIA – State Senator Dave Koehler will be joining Midstate College to host a job fair on Tuesday, July 1. Dozens of employers, including Caterpillar, the City of Peoria, Kindred Hospital, insurance agencies and more, will be on hand accepting resumes.
When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday, July 1
Where: Northwoods Mall, 2200 W. War Memorial Drive, Peoria
- A preparation workshop on June 24 at Midstate College
- "Wardrobes in the Workplace," presented by Dress for Success at noon during the job fair
Employers will be accepting applications from veterans, the unemployed, the underemployed, recent college graduates and anyone else who is looking for new career opportunities. Applicants are encouraged to dress professionally and bring copies of their resumes.
For more information, visit www.midstate.edu.
2014JobFair.pdf (click link to open; right-click and select "Save Link (or "Target") As..." to download)
SPRINGFIELD – Starting today, Illinois citizens can register to vote online. All they need to do is visit https://ova.elections.il.gov/, and follow the website’s instructions. They’ll also need their Illinois driver’s licenses or state-issued IDs, the last four digits of their social security numbers and their current addresses.
“Our democracy is strongest when as many people as possible get involved and participate,” said State Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park), who passed the law enabling online registration. “People can do everything else online – shop, pay bills, book flights and hotel rooms – they expect to be able to register to vote, too.”
The law passed the General Assembly last year, but it gave the State Board of Elections until July 1 to implement the program. The November general election will be the first election where online registration is a reality.
SPRINGFIELD – Yesterday, the governor signed legislation that guarantees the Illinois Poison Center will receive the stable funding source it needs to stay open through at least 2018.
“This is a good day for the Poison Center and the parents, medical professionals and others who rely on its services,” said State Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park), who negotiated the agreement for guaranteed funding.
Earlier this year, the Poison Center announced that it would be forced to close its doors on June 30 if the state could not find a stable funding source to replace declining state contributions.