Koehler

  • 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.

     

  • budget ftr 021517

  • afscme ftr

  • 052516CM0695r

    SPRINGFIELD — Responding to calls to reform the way sentencing considers a defendant’s mental state as a mitigation factor, the governor signed legislation today sponsored by State Sen. Dave Koehler.

    “Our understanding of mental illness grows in new ways all the time, and the way we apply sentencing should, too,” said Koehler, D-Peoria. “These reforms address the distinction between a defendant who has a legitimate claim to a plea of insanity and a convict with a serious mental illness.”

    The legislation adds the presence of a serious mental illness to the 15 existing mitigating factors courts can consider to possibly reduce sentencing. The measure aims to reduce the 6,000 individuals in Illinois correctional facilities with serious mental health issues.

    “Our prison system can’t serve as a de facto mental health facility, and to treat as such hurts our institutions as well as the inmates within them,” Koehler said. “I’m glad the governor has signed this into law and taken a step toward relieving that burden in a way that respects the findings of experts.”

    According to Mental Health America of Illinois (MHAI), more than 15% of people charged with crimes have a serious mental illness, but only a few dozen people are found “not guilty by reason of insanity” each year. In those cases, a person is deemed by the court not to be criminally responsible for his or her conduct due to a lack of the capacity to understand why the criminal act is wrong as a result of mental disease or defect.

    Koehler also thanked the legislation’s House sponsors, Reps. David Leitch, Jehan Gordon-Booth, and fellow Senate sponsor Senator Chuck Weaver, for their leadership in carrying the legislation.

    The legislation was House Bill 6037. It is effective immediately.

  • stopgap final 063016

  • koehler 040616PEORIA – Area schools stand to gain more than $15 million in state funding under a plan being assembled in the Illinois Senate for a vote on Wednesday.

    Peoria School District 150 would see the biggest gains with a more than $10 million increase in state support. But all other area schools also see gains.

    “All local school districts win under this plan,” said State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria). “We created a clean education bill that the governor could support. Last year, he signed an education budget so I am hopeful he will stand with us to keep schools open.”

    Under the legislation, Pekin Public School District 108 would receive more than $960,000 in funding and East Peoria School District 86 nearly $380,000.

    “This is a positive step toward putting every student on the path to success,” Koehler said. 

    The proposal is expected to be up for a vote Wednesday when the Senate returns to session.

  • 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.

  • manar avr ftr

  • steans 051216

  • higher ed deal 042216

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • trotter map

  • afscme 011516

  • koehler mntl hlthSPRINGFIELD – Students returning to college in a few weeks will have the authority to empower their university to share mental health information with their parents.

    The new law, House Bill 3599, 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.

    “It is my hope that this new law will help prevent tragedies like this from occurring,” said Sen. Dave Koehler (D-Peoria), who sponsored the legislation in the Illinois Senate. “College is a time when many students show signs of mental illness, and they will now be allowed to choose whether or not possibly crucial mental health information is shared with their parents.”

    A number of recent studies indicate that psychological problems are a growing issue on college campuses. For example, a survey found that 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 a third of students meet criteria for anxiety or depression during college.

    The new law not only gives newly-enrolled college students the opportunity to authorize the university to share mental health records with their parents, but other trusted adults as well. Universities will only share information when students are found to be a danger to themselves or others.

    House Bill 3599 is effective Jan. 1, 2016.

  • sb2039 passes

  • 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.

  • You pay at the pump, why is Springfield keeping your money?

  • 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.

  • 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.”