PEORIA – A bill that ends a long-running practice of Illinois governors hiding many of their staff members’ salaries in other department’s budgets became law this week.

Nearly 60 percent of employees currently working for the governor’s office are paid through the payrolls of state agencies with funds intended for priorities such as economic development, public safety and child protection, rather than directly through the budget of the governor’s office.

State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) supported The Truth in Hiring Act in order to end the practice of “offshoring” governor staff salaries.

The new law mandates that every employee who works in the governor’s office will be paid from the governor’s payroll. In doing so, it will prohibit governors from adding to staff without an honest accounting of the office’s budget.

“The people of Illinois have a right to know how much money is being spent on the governor’s office, who the employees are and what they are hired to do,” Koehler said. “It’s past time to end deceptive accounting practices and start committing to sound, fair and open business practices in our state.”

House Bill 5121 goes into effect immediately.

Category: Press Releases

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

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