Senator Koehler speaks Saturday at Wildlife Prairie Park after Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation giving ownership of the park to a Peoria-area non-for-profit group.SPRINGFIELD –After years of slashed budgets and bureaucratic delays, Illinois is finally putting Wildlife Prairie Park back in local hands.

"It's taken a surprisingly long time to get here," said State Senator Dave Koehler, "but we've finally managed to hand Wildlife Prairie Park over to a Peoria-area non-profit that will make sure it stays open for family-friendly education and entertainment."

The 2,000 acre park, which allows the people of Illinois to see the state's indigenous wildlife in a natural setting, has survived the state's budget cuts largely due to the efforts of Friends of Wildlife Prairie State Park, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the park's mission of promoting conservation, education and recreation. The Friends group assumed legal control of the park today.

Koehler, a Peoria Democrat, has worked with local elected officials from both parties to get the state to turn over the park to the Friends group for the past two years. After making it one of his top priorities this year, Koehler managed to push the law turning over the park all the way to the governor's desk in time for the park's summer season.

"I want to be able to share the park with my grandchildren," Koehler said. "People here in Peoria have demonstrated that they are willing to put in the time, money and hard work we need to keep the park open. With year after year of budget cuts, the state just couldn't make that commitment anymore."

Though the state is transferring ownership of the park to the Friends group, the legal agreement requires the group to keep the park open to the public and to maintain its current mission.

The law requiring the state to relinquish the park takes effect immediately.

Category: Press Releases

Recycle LogoContinuing his long-standing effort to protect and promote the environment, State Senator Dave Koehler has queued up two pieces of green legislation for a Senate vote later this month. One makes it easier to compost on small-scale farms. The other will make it possible for non-profits to run biogas facilities.

The composting plan will allow small farms to accept more biodegradable materials from other locations. Koehler is co-sponsoring a related measure that makes it easier to compost in urban farms and community gardens.

"The classic environmentalist credo is 'reduce, reuse, recycle,'" Koehler said. "Composting is a good example of reducing our reliance on chemical fertilizers by reusing plant and food waste that would otherwise go into landfills. More composting is a good thing."

Composting is highly supported by members of the local food movement because it allows small-scale farms and urban rooftop and community gardens to feed their crops. It also allows organic farmers to fertilize naturally.

Koehler's other effort – allowing non-profit companies to operate biogas facilities – is particularly relevant as biogas facilities open up across Illinois, from downstate Danville to urban Chicago. Biogas is methane created when organic materials – such as plant matter or human or animal waste material - decompose. The gas is then often burned to produce electricity.

"If a non-profit group can raise the funds to start a biogas facility, government regulation shouldn't get in the way," Koehler said. "Together with wind, hydro and solar power, biogas is helping us create clean, non-fossil-fuel energy."

Category: News

koehler75x75SPRINGFIELD –One of the most important pieces of the federal Affordable Care Act is health insurance exchanges. These exchanges are the marketplaces where private individuals and small businesses can go to purchase their health insurance. Illinois has so far failed to create an exchange, and left the important program to an agreement between the governor's office and the federal government.

Senator Dave Koehler, a Peoria Democrat, is moving to change that. His legislation – the first viable plan introduced in the Senate – has passed a key committee and is expected to move forward. It has the support of consumer advocacy groups, hospitals and the insurance industry.

"Illinois needs a health care exchange that will meet the unique needs of our state," Koehler said. "A federal one-size-fits-all model just can't do as good a job of meeting the needs of our people and businesses."

Koehler's plan, House Bill 3227, establishes the following:

  • Illinois will have a state-run health insurance exchange beginning October 1, 2014. It will be an online marketplace that will allow consumers to compare insurance prices, in much the same way that websites like Orbitz and Travelocity allow people to compare airfare.
  • The Department of Insurance will review and recommend the health insurance plans that will be available on the exchange. All plans must meet state and federal insurance guidelines.
  • An 11-member Exchange Board, appointed by the governor, will certify all plans approved by the Department of Insurance.
  • Health insurance plans and dental plans must be available to individuals and small businesses with fewer than 50 employees in 2014. In 2016, business that have up to 100 employees will also qualify.
  • The health insurance exchange will be paid for by Illinois health insurance companies, not taxpayer dollars or a fee on consumers.
Category: News

koehler75x75Flooding from recent rains has ravaged areas in Peoria, Tazewell and Fulton counties, where many residents have found their homes and businesses damaged or destroyed by high water. State Senator Dave Koehler is joining with the American Red Cross to help victims of flooding by delivering supplies and serving food to those affected.

Koehler will join other volunteers at 9:30 a.m. Friday, May 3, at Woodland Baptist Church in Peoria. For more information, please download this flier.

Category: News

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Contact Info

Springfield Office:
M113 Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-8250

Peoria Office:
400 NE Jefferson, Suite 200
Peoria, IL 61603
(309) 677-0120