Koehler

  • koehler 022718SPRINGFIELD – Legislation that would help small business owners who supply durable medical equipment to Medicaid patients passed the Senate Human Services Committee last week. Durable medical equipment includes equipment such as portable oxygen, feeding tubes and ventilators.

    State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) is the sponsor of SB 2262, which would require that the suppliers of the equipment are reimbursed the same amount as the Medicaid Fee for Service fee schedule.

    “While some believe the state should have no role in assisting businesses, it’s different when we are talking about life saving equipment for young children,” Koehler said. “I don’t think we should allow this dog-eat-dog environment to put the safety and well-being of Medicaid patients and their families at risk.“

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  • 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.

  • koehler xmastreeSPRINGFIELD – A memorial remembering fallen soldiers and their families was dedicated at the Illinois State Capitol this week. The memorial is sponsored by America’s Gold Star Families, an organization that helps the families of fallen servicemen and women.

    The Tree of Honor, located just east of the rotunda, is decorated with ornaments bearing the names and pictures of members of the military from every branch who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.

    State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) spoke at the dedication, stressing the need to never forget the sacrifices our military families make.

  • 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.

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  • 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 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. 

  • 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.” 

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  • koehler 031617Peoria-area schools could see increases in state funding under the new school funding formula passed by the General Assembly. The new formula, passed as Senate Bill 1, prioritizes new money to schools furthest from equity. 

    Some of those school districts that could see large increases include Peoria, Pekin, Canton and Limestone. Under SB 1, major Peoria-area schools are estimated to get the following amounts:

    Canton Union Dist. 66

    $762,658

    Limestone Community High Dist. 310

    $539,074

    Pekin Community High Dist. 303

    $727,431

    Pekin Public Schools Dist. 108

    $544,824

    Peoria Public Schools Dist. 150

    $1,812,332

     

    Under the same plan, due to its classification as a high-tax district, East Peoria Community High School District 309 could potentially see property tax relief because of increased state aid.

    State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) voted for the new formula, citing the need of downstate Illinois school districts with low property wealth.

    “It is no secret that our school funding formula leaves far too many students behind simply because they live in a poor school district,” Koehler said. “This new formula will make sure children in all environments; urban, suburban and rural, are able to get an education at a school that is fairly funded.” 

    SB 1 also contains a hold-harmless provision that guarantees no schools will receive less money from the state. 

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  • koehler 053017SPRINGFIELD – Local schools will be allowed to hire more social workers under legislation passed in the Illinois Senate today. House Bill 826 would allow schools to employ enough social workers to meet the nationally recommended social worker to student ratio of 250:1. 

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

    “We are not forcing schools to hire more social workers in an unfunded mandate,” Koehler said. “All we are saying is if schools want to use their resources to reach the recommended ratio of social workers to students, then we should allow them to do so.”

    Past research has shown that diverse students such as those with disabilities or minorities are at a greater risk of having mental health challenges but less likely to receive the necessary services. With more social workers in schools, the hope is that those services will be more easily accessible.

    “With more social workers in schools, we may be able to catch learning deficiencies early and help children grow,” Koehler said. “These selfless individuals are crucial to helping struggling students get on the path to success.”

    According to the School Social Work Association of America, school social workers provide evidence-based education, behavior and mental health services to students.

    The legislation passed both the House and Senate unanimously.

  • 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 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.

  • Sen. Dave KoehlerSPRINGFIELD – A new Department of Corrections facility would help women who have been incarcerated return to their communities under legislation being considered at the Senate.

    The facility, known as the Peoria Women’s Community Transformation Center, will provide housing, case management, social and educational services, hands-on training in construction skills and other types of vocational training, plus a pool of jobs created through the work of the Community Transformation Institute and its partners.

  • 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 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 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 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.