SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Dave Koehler led a measure through the Senate to create awareness of the history of the Underground Railroad in Illinois.

“Our state has a lot of history with the Underground Railroad,” said Koehler (D – Peoria). “Illinois played a huge role in the path toward freedom. Through a new task force, we will map the search for freedom and justice for African Americans throughout the 1800s.”

Senate Bill 1623 would create the Underground Railroad Task Force. The group would develop a statewide plan to connect existing local projects and new projects to create a cohesive statewide history of the Underground Railroad in Illinois, while developing new educational and tourism opportunities.

The task force would identify where historical sites are located, connections they may have to one another, and will paint a picture to recognize the history of the Underground Railroad in Illinois. It would also introduce educational and tourism opportunities throughout the state.

“This task force will give children, historians, and Illinoisans a better understanding of how slavery impacted our state, and how leaders throughout Illinois took charge in helping slaves find their right to freedom,” said Koehler. “These educational opportunities will provide new perspective on just how much slavery impacted our state and nation.”

This bipartisan bill was initiated by Tazewell County Clerk John Ackerman in the hopes of bringing awareness to this important part of our state’s history.

“Currently, there are many regional landmarks of the Underground Railroad throughout the state, but there is really no way of connecting them together," said Ackerman. “This task force give us the ability to tie all of these regional pockets together to tell the story of just how long the path the Underground Rail Road was in Illinois, and the lengths that abolitionists and slaves took in search of freedom.”

Senate Bill 1623 passed the Senate Wednesday. It now heads to the House for further consideration.

Category: Press Releases



SPRINGFIELD – A decade ago, young superstardom was rare, left for the television stars and professional singers. However, with the rise of social media influencing, all someone needs to reach fame now is a cell phone.

While traditional child actors are protected by the Child Labor Law, there’s nothing on the books for young social media influencers. Under a bipartisan measure led by State Senators Dave Koehler and Linda Holmes, that would change. 

“This new digital era has allowed children to find ways to make money online from the content they make,” said Koehler (D-Peoria). “The problem is that many parents take this opportunity to pocket the money themselves, and encourage their children to make more content for their benefit. This is a child labor issue that didn’t exist ten years ago. We as their representatives need to tackle this issue head-on.”

Under Senate Bill 1782, minors under the age of 16 featured in vlogs or other online content would be covered under the Child Labor Law. The measure calls for the child – also known as a “kidfluencer”— to be accurately compensated.

The idea for the legislation came from Shreya Nallamothu, a 15-year-old high school student in Koehler’s district. Shreya brought her proposal to Koehler and Holmes with concerns that money made by child influencers is not protected and that too many young people will fall victim to a parent or guardian taking the assets for their own use.

“When scrolling on social media, I always saw young children and families, called family vlog channels, posting videos online. After finding that users could make money off of platforms such as YouTube and TikTok, I learned that, often, these kids are made to participate in videos without any guarantee of the income generated from the content,” said Shreya. “I wanted to work with Senator Koehler to protect the money that these kids have rightfully earned.”

According to CBS News, kidfluencers with one million followers can earn $10,000 or more per sponsored post. Young children are often featured in social media content without any guarantee of the income they have earned. Because of the age restrictions on online platforms, the content is not created in the child's name, but rather the parent or guardian who runs the account. While traditional child actors in Illinois have the Child Labor Law to safeguard their earnings, there is nothing in place for kidfluencers. If passed, Illinois would be the first in the nation to protect child influencers and ensure they are appropriately compensated under the Child Labor Law.

“As legislators, it is our job to be the voice for the voiceless – including the future generation of children,” said Holmes (D-Aurora). “In this digital age, parents should not be able to profit off the work or rise to fame because of their children. It’s no different than child television stars having protections.”

Senate Bill 1782 passed the Senate without opposition on Wednesday and now heads to the House for further consideration.

Category: Press Releases

Koehler 1787 Pass


SPRINGFIELD State Senator Dave Koehler led a measure through the Senate to create the Rural Education Advisory Council.

“School districts in all corners of the state deserve the opportunity to discuss the unique challenges they face,” said Koehler (D – Peoria). “Promoting local control for these schools allows them to create an efficient, more tailored education for their students.”

The Rural Education Advisory Council would create the opportunity for rural districts to discuss the specific needs and challenges they face within their schools. The council would then give feedback on critical issues facing rural communities and generate improvement ideas to the State Superintendent and the Illinois State Board of Education.

“Every school district is different and therefore has a unique set of needs,” said Koehler. “We must promote accurate representation to allow all schools to have the same opportunities.”

Senate bill 1787 passed the Senate Thursday. It now heads to the full House for further consideration.

Category: Press Releases



SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Dave Koehler led a measure through the Senate that would create requirements for geographical, racial and ethnic diversity for any new task force, blue ribbon panel, commission or organization on education.

“Chicago and its neighboring communities don’t understand the issues rural school districts face, so why aren’t they properly represented in these group panels?” said Koehler (D – Peoria). “This initiative gives accurate representation to all schools affected by education group panels, so that we can address every need our schools have.”

Senate bill 1786 would require any task force, blue ribbon panel, commission or organization appointed by the State Board of Education, state superintendent of education, the governor or statewide legislators to appoint or mandate representatives that reflect these requirements.

If a school task force or committee is full of Chicago appointees, they’re not going to understand the unique concerns that a rural school district may present to them,”  said Koehler. “You don’t see kids in Chicago traveling across the county to get to school. They have different challenges than our schools do.”

Senate bill 1786 passed the Senate Thursday. It now heads to the House for further consideration.

Category: Press Releases

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