PEORIA – Legislation allowing Peoria County to redevelop the site of the former Hanna City Work Camp for private use was signed into law today.

House Bill 4319 allows Peoria County to sell the land for private development. The property was required by law to be reserved for public use when the county obtained it from the state in 2008, or the county would have to return the property to the state.

State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) sponsored the legislation with State Representative Mike Unes (R-East Peoria), hoping it will spur some economic growth in rural Peoria County.

“This camp has sat idle for years. Allowing the private sector to come in and potentially create jobs seemed like a no-brainer,” Koehler said.

The state will receive 10 percent of the proceeds of any sale of the property. The legislation takes effect immediately.

Category: Press Releases

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PEORIA – A special economic development tool that spurred significant business investment in Peoria now will be available to other central Illinois communities that wish to replicate the river city’s success.

Senate Bill 3527, signed into law today on the Peoria riverfront, expands the successful River Edge historic preservation tax credit program to the entire state.

Previously, the incentive only was available in Peoria, Rockford, East St. Louis, Elgin and Aurora, all of which are riverside communities that had sought to lure community investment and revitalize their economies.

State Senator Dave Koehler, a Peoria Democrat, was a chief co-sponsor of the measure. He has seen the physical transformations and job creation that can occur as a result of the River Edge program. Numerous redevelopment projects in the city’s Warehouse District and downtown benefitted from the incentive.

“It’s far more beneficial to help someone invest in a historic building or a struggling neighborhood than to let that property languish and become an eyesore,” Koehler said. “Revitalization puts people to work, increases property values, boosts pride in the community and leads to vibrancy and growth. There’s no down side.”

State Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth (D-Peoria) sponsored the legislation in the House.

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The new law is expected to help clear the way for a nearly $100 million investment by OSF Healthcare, which has plans to take over the former Caterpillar Inc. headquarters at 124 SW Adams St. More than 700 OSF employees will work at the downtown site once renovation of the structure, built in 1905, is complete.

Senate Bill 3527 prioritizes five categories of eligible buildings for the tax credit, including those located in areas subject to a disaster declaration, those located in border communities and those previously owned by a governmental entity.

The law – which provides up to $15 million in credits annually for qualified projects – also enables the state to recapture any tax credits from developers who fail to meet program requirements.

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Category: Press Releases

PEORIA – Legislation allowing the immediate families of armed service members killed in action or while on active duty to terminate the lease of the deceased was signed into law today.

Previously, the law allowed service members to terminate a lease if they receive orders for a change in duty station or deployment longer than 90 days. House Bill 4317 extends the right to terminate to the dependents of fallen service members.

State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) sponsored the measure after a constituent in his district brought the matter to Springfield.

“This is one of those instances where you can’t believe we have to pass a law to do allow something,” Koehler said. “Families of fallen service members shouldn’t be met with hurdles when grieving.”

HB 4317 takes effect immediately.

Category: Press Releases

Ruling sure to have consequences for middle class, Koehler says

SCOTUS Building 350PEORIA – State Senator Dave Koehler expressed concern with the U.S. Supreme Court decision to erode collective bargaining rights for workers who depend on unions to amplify their voice in the workplace.

“Unions use collective bargains to improve wages, working conditions and benefits for workers across the board. This decision allows some to not have to pay for that representation but still get to enjoy the benefits. That is just plain unfair,” Koehler (D-Peoria) said.

He noted that 2018 marks 50 years since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis while there to support sanitation workers in their fight for collective bargaining rights.

“Although Gov. Rauner has no regrets about what he’s done by pursuing an end to fair-share fees, I fear today’s Supreme Court decision will have far-reaching economic consequences for America’s already shrinking middle class,” Koehler said.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in the landmark Illinois public employee union case Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 overturns unions’ ability to collect fees from non-members to cover the costs of collective bargaining and enforcement of labor contracts. These fees are known as “fair-share” or “agency fee” payments.

Gov. Bruce Rauner filed suit over fair-share fees in 2015 shortly after becoming governor. The Supreme Court’s ruling, which overturns a 1977 decision, has implications for collective bargaining units all over the country.

Timeline of Janus v. AFSCME

May 23, 1977 — A U.S. Supreme Court decision in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education legalizes the collection of union fair-share fees from non-members for costs related to negotiating and enforcing labor contracts. Fair-share fees could not be used for lobbying and political expenses by unions.

Feb. 9, 2015 — Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, in office less than a month, issues an executive order suspending the deduction of fair-share fees from state employees’ paychecks and sending the money to unions. He also files a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of fair-share fee collection, contending it violates the First Amendment.

Sept. 13, 2016 — A federal judge in Chicago dismisses Rauner’s lawsuit, saying the governor does not have standing in the case. A state worker, Mark Janus, later is allowed to intervene in the case, saying he objects to fair-share fees being deducted from his paycheck to be sent to a union. Janus’ legal representation is provided by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and the Liberty justice Center.

March 21, 2017 — An appellate court affirms the federal judge’s 2016 decision to dismiss the case. Janus appeals the appellate ruling to the Supreme Court.

Sept. 28, 2017 — The U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear the Janus case.

Feb. 26, 2018 — Oral arguments are presented to the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. Gov. Rauner is present for the arguments and speaks to the media afterward.

June 27, 2018 — U.S. Supreme Court hands down its ruling in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31.

Category: Press Releases

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