eatlocalSPRINGFIELD – A new law sponsored by State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) will encourage Illinois residents to buy local by making the first Saturday of each month "Eat Local, Buy Illinois Products Day."

Illinois Products Days will fit into the Illinois Department of Agriculture's larger challenge to get more people to buy Illinois products. According to the department, if each household in Illinois spent $10 on Illinois products each week, the people of Illinois would be reinvesting more than $2.4 billion in the state economy each year.

"When you buy Illinois products, you put money right back into your friends and neighbors' pockets," Koehler said. "People talk a lot about outsourcing – think of this as insourcing."

Several years ago, the General Assembly passed a law creating an Illinois products logo – a special design used to indicate products grown or produced right here in Illinois. Now that it's easy to identify Illinois products, Koehler wants to encourage people to do more.

"Even if it's just once a month, try to go to a restaurant that cooks food raised by local farmers," Koehler said. "Go to a farmers market. Go to a grocery store that labels the food it gets from local producers. There are so many ways to give back to local businesses. Let's create jobs here in Illinois."

Gov. Pat Quinn signed the bill into law on Aug. 13.

Category: Press Releases

hunting-deer-mdPEORIA – A new law sponsored by State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) strongly encourages hunters to donate the meat from the game animals they kill if they aren't going to eat it themselves.

"It's very easy for hunters to donate meat to charity if they don't want to eat it themselves or share it with friends and family," Koehler said. "Most responsible hunters already make sure that the animals they kill don't go to waste – we just want to encourage everyone to do the same."

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources operates the highly successful Illinois Sportsmen Against Hunger Program, which allows hunters to donate venison and other meat to food banks and other charities throughout Illinois. The program has provided 3.5 million meals to hungry families. To learn more about the program or to find a local participating meat processor, visit www.dnr.illinois.gov.

"I've seen hunters leave three or four partially butchered deer along the road, in view of everyone that drives by. We hope to encourage hunters to donate deer to the Sportsmen against Hunger program," said Sgt. Jamie Mauler, who works for the department.

Specifically, Koehler's proposal:

  • Prohibits throwing away edible, easily processed meat from game animals that hunters don't want to keep for themselves. This specifically includes unspoiled breast meat of birds and front and back haunches of mammals.
  • Prohibits dumping or abandoning the carcasses of animals killed by hunters on public property (or private property without the permission of the owner).
  • Establishes that violators of this law can be charged with a Class B Misdemeanor.
Category: Press Releases

koehler75x75After a court order, months of negotiations, a last-minute veto by the governor and other complications, Illinois finally has joined the other 49 states to allow people to carry concealed weapons – provided they meet a series of carefully constructed safeguards meant to protect the public.

"This is a good day for supporters of the Second Amendment," Koehler said. "Despite some last-minute roadblocks put up by the governor's office, I think we ended up with a very reasonable law that will keep concealed weapons out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill."

The issue moved to the forefront this year after a federal court ruled that Illinois' status as the only state in the union without a concealed carry statute is unconstitutional. Had the legislature not acted, unrestricted concealed carry would have become law. However, home rule municipalities (like Peoria) would have been able to set their own rules governing concealed carry, potentially creating a difficult-to-navigate patchwork of rules that would not have kept the public safety or served the needs of supporters of the Second Amendment who want to take advantage of concealed carry.

(UPDATE: The Illinois Senate Democratic Caucus has a list of frequently asked questions at its website.)

The new law, which will go into effect once the State Police have put in place some important rules and procedures, establishes the following:

  • The State Police shall issue concealed carry licenses to applicants who meet all of the requirements of the law.
  • To qualify, an applicant must:
    • have a FOID card
    • be at least 21 years old
    • not have a conviction for a violent misdemeanor in the past five years
    • not have two or more DUI convictions in the past five years
    • not have a warrant out for his or her arrest or be subject to any prosecution that could disqualify him or her from obtaining a FOID card
    • not have been in residential or court-ordered drug or alcohol treatment within the past five years
  • Applicants must pass a 16 hour training course and pay a $150 fee.
  • If an applicant meets all the criteria for a license, law enforcement may object to an application if they believe that the applicant presents a danger to himself or herself or others. These objections will be reviewed by a seven-member board appointed by the governor.
  • All applications must be approved or denied within 90 days.
  • Licenses will be valid for five years. License holders must take an additional three hours of training and pay a renewal fee to renew their licenses.
  • Concealed weapons cannot be carried in the following locations:
    • schools
    • preschools and child care facilities
    • government buildings
    • courts
    • correctional facilities
    • medical facilities
    • public transportation
    • bars
    • public gatherings (though licensees may pass through to reach their home, workplace or vehicle)
    • special events at which alcohol is served
    • playgrounds
    • parks
    • colleges and universities
    • gambling facilities, including casinos and horse tracks
    • stadiums
    • libraries
    • airports
    • amusement parks
    • museums, zoos and aquariums
    • places prohibited by federal law
    • private property where the owner has posted a sign indicating that firearms are prohibited
  • Concealed weapons can be stored in locked containers in locked vehicles in the parking lots of prohibited locations.
  • Carrying a concealed weapon while under the influence of alcohol is prohibited.
Category: Press Releases

koehler75x75PEORIA –State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) issued the following statement about the Supreme Court's ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act:

"The Supreme Court's decision to extend federal benefits to all married couples in the United States is heartening. I'm proud that the Illinois Senate has already passed the Marriage Equality Act and hopeful that the House will act soon. We need to extend the thousands of federal benefits provided by marriage to all Illinois couples."

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