Spurred to action by a Peoria-area incident, Senator Dave Koehler is trying to make sure that bars can allow smoking in outdoor areas and stay on the right side of the law.  Earlier this year, numerous bars and restaurants that had made every effort to comply with the Smoke Free Illinois Act were ticketed for allowing smoking in outdoor beer gardens.  Koehler is working with Peoria State’s Attorney Jerry Brady to clarify the law so bar owners, restaurant owners, and police can address where smoking is prohibited.

“I supported the Smoke Free Illinois Act, but I believe that bars and restaurants should be able to let people smoke outdoors in beer gardens, patios, and the like,” Koehler said.  “I’m especially frustrated that some of the bars and restaurants that were ticketed worked with the Illinois Department of Public Health to make sure they were in compliance with the law.”

“The current law includes the following language, ‘An owner shall reasonably assure that smoking is prohibited in indoor places and workplaces,’” Brady said.  “This portion in connection with other portions has created confusion in interpretation of whether an outdoor patio is included or excluded from enforcement.”

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Category: Press Releases

Senator Dave Koehler praised his colleagues in the Illinois House for voting to pass legislation cutting lawmakers’ pay and ending the sometimes-controversial Legislative Scholarship program.  Koehler opted out of the program earlier this year, frustrated that attempts to reform it had failed and concerned that the state would be better off focusing its financial aid efforts on need-based programs like MAP (Monetary Award Program) grants.

“I’m pleased to see such broad, bipartisan consensus on issues like cutting lawmakers’ pay and eliminating General Assembly Scholarships,” Koehler said.  “I think it’s a good sign that we can work together to resolve major issues.”

The first measure (House Bill 3188) requires lawmakers to work without pay for 12 days next year, costing each member of the Illinois House and Senate more than $3,000.   It also rejects a cost of living adjustment for the governor and other statewide officials, state agency directors, legislators, and members of boards and commissions.

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Category: Press Releases

A few short weeks ago, working families throughout Illinois learned that a state-sponsored child care program had run out of money.  Faced with the prospect of going without pay until the new state fiscal year begins in July, daycare centers and other child care services have been struggling to keep their doors open, and families have been struggling to find alternative ways to keep their children safe while they work, attend school, or go to job training programs. 

Their worries should soon be over, as the Illinois Senate has voted to shift money from another fund to ensure that families don’t lose access to child care.  The funding plan is on its way to the governor, who is expected to sign it quickly.

“Parents shouldn’t have to choose between working and caring for their children,” said State Senator Dave Koehler, who strongly supported finding a resolution to the problem.  “Child care is expensive, and it ultimately benefits everyone when we enable families to work or attend school and be contributing members of society.”

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Category: Press Releases

In Illinois, the average time a child waits to be adopted is nearly 16 months from the time their birth parents give them up to the time their adoptive parents can legally take them home.  Only 10 other states take longer.  State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) is sponsoring legislation to cut the wait time for kids who are being adopted by families approved by the birth parent.

“The adoption process is traumatic for everyone involved—the children, the adoptive parents, and the biological parents,” Koehler said, “and one of the reasons it can be so difficult is that it takes a long time.  If we can cut down the wait time safely, we should.”

Koehler’s legislation allows birth parents to willingly give their children up for adoption to people who have already had custody of the kids for at least six months.  It contains important safeguards to ensure that the Department of Children and Family Services can deny these adoptions when it believes they are not in the children’s best interests.

“In cases where a foster parent, aunt, uncle, or grandparent has already been caring for a child for months, it only makes sense to speed up the adoption process, especially when the birth parent agrees,” Koehler said.

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Category: Press Releases

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