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  • 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.

  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

  • 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 121117PEORIA – Local officials gathered last week to discuss the benefits of the Future Energy Jobs Act on the one year anniversary of the law being signed. The law placed Illinois in the forefront of green energy production, creating one of the strongest Renewable Portfolio Standards ever.

    State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) was a proponent of the legislation while it was being debated in Springfield and says the tax credits created both federally and state wide are the reason for a boom in the industry.

    “That’s why you are starting to see an explosion right now of solar (energy) because solar is ready for Illinois,” Koehler said.  “The technology is there. And because of these incentives we now see projects whether they are commercial scale projects, whether they are community projects they are now viable economically.”  

    Thanks to the legislation, Fondulac Township is helping start one of Illinois’ first community solar projects. It is estimated that the project could power up to 400 homes in Tazewell County.

    The goal of the Future Energy Jobs bill is to have 25 percent of the state’s generated electricity to come from renewable energy options like solar power or wind turbines.

  • 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 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 041718SPRINGFIELD – Legislation guaranteeing that mass transit workers are allowed to take bathroom breaks while on duty passed the Senate Transportation Committee today.

    Senate Bill 2210 would guarantee up to ten minutes of restroom breaks for every four hours worked by a transit worker. The legislation would also guarantee the workers are not docked any pay for taking the break.

  • 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 041218SPRINGFIELD – Legislation that brings transparency to the fracking process passed a key senate committee today.

    Senate Bill 3174, sponsored by State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria), would require the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to post drilling reports from fracking sites within 30 days of receiving them. The legislation also requires the operators of the wells to provide a list of chemicals being used in drilling and the GPS coordinates of their wells.

    Koehler said the bill is about letting landowners know what’s going on in their communities.

    “People who live near these fracking operations should be able to know what is happening on the properties that in some cases border their own,” Koehler said. “This legislation can bring some transparency and accountability to the process which will allow people to make informed decisions and protect themselves.”

    The legislation awaits final action in the senate.

  • 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 051618SPRINGFIELD – Legislation that would give families of armed service members killed in action or on duty the power to terminate their fallen loved ones’ lease obligations passed the Illinois Senate today.

    Current law allows service members to terminate a lease if they receive orders for a change in duty station or deployment longer than 90 days. House Bill 4317 would extend the right to terminate to the dependents of fallen service members.

    State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) is sponsoring the measure after a constituent in his district brought the matter to Springfield.

    “To be frank, I was shocked to learn that this isn’t already the law,” Koehler said. “Gold Star families shouldn’t be tied down to leases when going through the loss of a loved one.”

    HB 4317 now goes to the governor’s desk for his signature. 

  • 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 042518SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Senate passed legislation today to protect students with asthma by allowing their schools to keep backup inhalers on hand.

    The measure, Senate bill 3015, would allow school nurses or other personnel to administer asthma medication that is registered in the name of a school district, public school, charter school or nonpublic school to a person in respiratory distress. Similar laws already apply to life-saving EpiPens, which are applied to combat severe allergic reactions.

    State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) said the legislation will help build on the progress the state has made thus far in combating asthma.

    “Illinois has made great strides in helping children with asthma attend school without the fear that their school will be unprepared for an inevitable asthma attack,” Koehler said “SB 3015 will help children even more by allowing backup inhalers to be kept at the school, similar to EpiPens.”

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Illinois Department of Public Health, approximately 8.4 percent of children in the United States and 13.6 percent of children in Illinois currently have asthma. Asthma is one of the leading causes of school absenteeism with an estimated 13.8 million school days missed due to asthma in the United States in 2014 alone.

     

  • koehler 041218SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Senate passed legislation today allowing Peoria County to redevelop the site of the former Hanna City Work Camp for private use.

    The property was obtained by the county in 2008 under the condition that is would remain available for public use or be returned to the state. House Bill 4319 would allow Peoria County to sell the land for private development.   

    State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) sponsored the legislation alongside State Rep. Mike Unes (R-East Peoria) and State Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth (D-Peoria) to spur economic growth in rural Peoria County.

    “Any opportunity to grow jobs in downstate Illinois should be looked at,” Koehler said. “By allowing the private sector to come in and create jobs, we are helping the community.”

    The state will receive 10 percent of the proceeds of the sale under HB 4319. The measure now goes to the governor. 

  • 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 051618SPRINGFIELD – Disgraced former Governor Rod Blagojevich could receive a pardon from President Trump according to reports on Thursday. State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) issued the following statement:

    “In 2009, the Illinois Senate, in a unanimous vote of 59 to 0, voted to remove Gov. Rod Blagojevich from office. I was one of those 59 Senators. After I heard testimony from an FBI source about his shakedown of a children’s hospital for a political donation before he would sign an important piece of legislation, it was pretty clear that we had a corrupt governor.

    “He was ultimately convicted of numerous crimes and sent to prison. Had he ever come clean with the public about what he had done in a humble and sincere way, I could feel sorry for him. But to this day his arrogance pervades.

    “President Trump's consideration of giving him a pardon confirms for me that the common bonds between the pair are arrogance and ego-centricity. “