GMOlabelSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) believes that the people of Illinois have a right to know what they're eating. That's why he's proposed a new law that will require companies to notify consumers when their products contain genetically engineered organisms.

"The food we eat has a profound impact on our health," said Koehler, chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee. "People deserve to know what they're eating."

Over the past several decades, biological science and our understanding of genetics has increased in leaps and bounds, empowering scientists to change the DNA of plants and animals. They've used this technology in a variety of ways to help farmers produce more food more easily and cheaply. For example, one of the most common genetic modifications makes crops like corn and soybeans more pest resistant.

However, some people are concerned that genetically engineered food might have an adverse effect on their health. Others are concerned about the effect on the environment.

"This legislation isn't about saying genetically engineered foods are good or bad," Koehler said. "It's just about labeling. We already require food labels to disclose when a product contains dairy or nuts, for example. To me, disclosing genetic engineering is exactly the same."

Koehler intends to put his legislation in a subcommittee and hold further hearings later this year.

"I realize that labeling genetically engineering food is a controversial issue with passionate advocates who make good arguments on both sides," Koehler added. "We need to give them an opportunity to debate the idea in a public forum, so we can all be better informed."

Category: Press Releases

koehler75x75SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) issued the following statement in response to Governor Pat Quinn's budget proposal:

"I honestly don't believe that the governor would sign this budget. Pat Quinn cares too much about this state's children to be serious about cutting education funding by this much.

"What the governor is really doing here is trying to scare the General Assembly into passing pension reform. I agree that we need to do something. I do. We need not only action by the Legislature, but also leadership from the governor to get this done."

Category: Press Releases

koehlermicSPRINGFIELD – Illinois has nearly 2,000 miles of cast- and wrought-iron gas mains – many more than 60 years old. The federal government has identified these aging gas lines as a major public safety risk and issued a call to action to replace them as soon as possible.

"Illinois' aging gas lines are a real public safety hazard," said State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria). "And it's only going to get worse the longer we go without replacing them. Today, I've taken the first step by proposing legislation that will give gas distributors the tools they need to begin upgrading Illinois' pipelines."

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Illinois had 27 gas incidents caused by old, substandard gas lines between 2002 and 2011. Though the state had no fatalities, there were several injuries and more than $7 million in property damage during this time period.

"Replacing crumbling gas lines will also create thousands of jobs and help protect the environment by preventing underground gas leaks," Koehler added. "The time to do this is now, while natural gas prices are low."

Koehler's legislation, Senate Bill 1665, will make it easier for gas distributors to recover the cost of natural gas pipeline upgrades, making Illinois more competitive with neighboring states like Indiana, Missouri and Kentucky, which already have similar laws. It also enables gas companies to move gas meters to the outside of buildings and install modern tracking technology, reducing the need for manual meter readings and cutting customer costs. Outdoor meters make it easier for firefighters to shut off gas mains during emergencies.

The Illinois Commerce Commission keeps its strong oversight and review powers under the Gas Upgrade plan and gains new authority to penalize gas distribution companies if they don't meet annual performance and transparency goals.

Category: Latest

Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) speaks in support of Senate Bill 10, the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, during debate Thursday on the Senate floor.

Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) speaks in support of Senate Bill 10, the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, during debate Thursday on the Senate floor. (click to enlarge)

Category: Latest

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