Koehler

  • New facility would help women returning to communities after incarceration

    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 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 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 Recently, a plan for a CAFO that would hold 20,000 head of hogs in rural Fulton County was withdrawn after a considerable pushback from the public.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 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: 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 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.

     

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

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  • Lawmakers call on governor, AFSCME to continue labor negotiations (VIDEO, AUDIO)

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  • Sentencing will consider mental illness as a mitigating factor

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    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.

  • Shared priorities, common ground yield budget action (AUDIO)

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  • Peoria, Central Illinois schools big winners in Senate education plan

    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.

  • 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.

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

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  • Senate approves stopgap funding for social services (AUDIO)

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  • Senate sends higher ed funding bill to governor, social services to House (AUDIO)

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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • MAP grants, community colleges funding head to governor (AUDIO)

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  • Rauner claims impasse in labor negotiations

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  • Mental health law inspired by Bartonville family’s tragedy set to take effect

    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.