State Senator Dave Koehler is announcing that members of the Illinois Senate will hold a hearing in Peoria to establish clear rules for how restaurants and bars can allow their customers to smoke in outdoor areas.

The issue came to Koehler’s attention when he learned a Peoria-area bar and grill was fined for violating the Smoke Free Illinois act, despite the fact that owners of the establishment worked with the Department of Public Health to make sure they were following the rules.

“We can’t have small businesses work with the state to make sure they are obeying the law, spend thousands of dollars, and then get fined anyway,” Koehler said. 

Here are the details of the Senate hearing:

Who: The Senate Labor Subcommittee on Employment Issues

When: August 15, 2012 at 11 AM

Where: American Red Cross, 311 John Gwynn Jr. Avenue, Peoria

The committee will discuss the issue and consider how to create uniform rules to regulate smoking in outdoor restaurant and bar areas, based on initial legislation drafted by Senator Koehler with the help of Peoria State’s Attorney Jerry Brady.

Category: News

After being alerted to the opportunity by Senator Chris Lauzen, State Senator Dave Koehler introduced legislation to help convince Orascom Construction Industries to build a new fertilizer manufacturing plant in Peoria County, which will bring 165 to 200 permanent jobs and 1,000 construction jobs to the area over a two year period. 

Orascom is currently considering sites in both Illinois and Iowa.  To make Illinois more attractive to the company, Koehler is sponsoring legislation that makes Illinois’ incentive package on par with Iowa’s.

“This legislation is sending Orascom, an agricultural fertilizer company, a clear sign that we want them to come to Peoria County,” Koehler said.  “Our state is open for business, and we want to work with companies like Orascom to create good manufacturing jobs here in Illinois.”

The proposed $1.6 billion plant will produce ammonia, urea, and other nitrogen fertilizers to sell to Midwestern farmers.  The presence of the Orascom facility will save Illinois farmers significant money on fertilizer due to lower transportation costs.

Koehler has been working with Peoria County officials, the governor’s office, and legislators from both chambers and both sides of the aisle to reach an agreement that will bring Orascom to Illinois.

“I’m immensely proud of the work everyone has done in a very short timeframe to compete for this economic development opportunity. This would be a historic private investment in Downstate Illinois," said Peoria County Board Chairman Thomas O’Neill III.

Category: News

Legislation sponsored by Senator Dave Koehler that would prevent phone customers from “cramming” passed out of the House and Senate this week.  The bill, which is supported by the Attorney General’s office, would prevent “cramming,” a scam that has hit Illinois consumers and businesses with inflated phone charges. 

“The people of Illinois lose hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to these telephone bill scams,” said Sen. David Koehler, Senate bill sponsor. “Banning third-party billing is a simple, common-sense solution to a problem that affects thousands of Illinois families and businesses.”

“Cramming” occurs when a third party uses a phone number as a credit card, charging the customer with a fee or charge for a service that they neither asked for nor used, such as email service, identity theft, or other services or programs.  According to the US Senate Commerce Committee, “cramming” has generated $2 billion annually for these third-parties nationally through the use of more than 300 million individual charges. In Illinois, more than 300 lawsuits have been filed against “crammers,” representing more than 200,000 customers and businesses.

Read more ...

Category: Press Releases

Years of less-than-adequate state funding have taken their toll on Wildlife Prairie State Park.  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.  Senator Dave Koehler and Senator Darin LaHood have proposed legislation that will permanently transfer ownership of the park to the Friends board.

“Wildlife Prairie Park is one of the best nature parks in the Midwest,” Koehler said.  “It’s an important place for the Peoria community—many of us have great memories of spending time at the park with our families.  Given the state of Illinois’ budget challenges, we all agree that transferring the park to Friends is best for both the state and the park.”

Despite Koehler’s best efforts to get funding for the park reinstated, the state of Illinois has been unable to provide significant funding to the park for the past two years, a situation unlikely to change in the near future.

“I want to commend the Friends board for all the hard work they’ve done to keep Wildlife Prairie Park a great destination that draws people from across the Midwest to the Peoria area,” LaHood said.  “I also want to thank my colleagues from both sides of the aisle who are supporting our efforts to transfer the park back into private ownership.”

Though the state is conveying ownership of the park to the Friends group, it hasn’t totally relinquished its interest in the property—the legal agreement requires the park group to keep the park open to the public and to maintain its current mission.

“I know the Friends Board only intends to improve the park,” Koehler said.  “Still, it’s reassuring to know that part of the agreement is to guarantee that Wildlife Prairie will remain open to the public.”

Koehler and LaHood’s legislation has passed the Illinois Senate and now goes to the House for further consideration.

Category: Press Releases

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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