Earlier today, State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) voted in support of a comprehensive plan to extend and reform one of Illinois most successful economic development tools—Enterprise Zones.

Enterprise Zones are specially designated areas where employers—particularly large manufacturers—receive targeted tax relief, fast-tracked reviews of some state and local permit applications, and improved government service.  The state’s Enterprise Zone Program has become a priority because eight Enterprise Zones are set to expire next year, including one Peoria and another in Canton/Fulton County.  Dozens more will expire over the next few years.

"This is about jobs,” said Koehler, who served on the Special Committee on Enterprise Zone Extensions.  “Enterprise Zones encourage major employers to keep and create jobs in Illinois.  Over the past month, we've heard from big companies like Caterpillar, mayors, economic development experts, and others who all said that Enterprise Zones work.  We can't let this economic development tool expire."

  The legislation:
• Renews current enterprise zones for an additional 25 years, subject to approval of state and local officials • Allows up to 10 additional zones to be created over the next 10 years • Streamlines the available tax incentives to remove those that are not producing results • Requires maps of enterprise zones to be posted online

“This is a good plan,” said Koehler, who co-sponsored the legislation (Senate Bill 3688).  “It gives the business community the stability and predictability they need, it improves and expands the existing program, and it improves the transparency of this already-well-documented success story.”

Each year, companies in Enterprise Zones are required to report how many jobs they have kept or created due to the assistance the zone provides.  In 2011 alone, the Enterprise Zone Program is credited with creating 8,980 jobs and generating $2.5 billion in investments.

 

Category: Press Releases

Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) is sponsoring legislation to keep unwanted charges off of consumers’ phone bills.  The legislation, supported by Attorney General Lisa Madigan, would go a long way toward ending the phone scam known as “cramming.”  Cramming occurs when a third party company places an unwanted charge on a customers’ phone bill.

“When most people look at their phone bills, they assume they're getting billed for the calls they make and the services they purchase—they don’t think to look for extra costs added by third-party companies,” Koehler said.  “Illinois consumers lose hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to these scams.  We need to put a stop to them.”

Cramming charges can range from $9.95 to $45 per month.  They often appear on bills as seemingly legitimate services, like email, voicemail, or identification-theft prevention.  They also are not limited to residential phone customers—businesses, churches, non-profit groups, and even government organizations have been the victims of cramming.  Crammers often trick consumers into “signing up” for their services during telemarketing calls.  In other cases, they use outright lies to add the charges to customers’ bills.  In many cases, they don’t even provide legitimate products or services.

The General Assembly has tried to take on cramming before by requiring telemarketers to clearly and fully disclose the terms of any agreements and to get express consent before appending any charges to customers’ phone bills.  However, the attorney general’s recent investigations have discovered that cramming is still a significant problem.

Koehler’s legislation, House Bill 5211, prohibits third-party billing altogether.  It allows for limited exemptions for charities, operator-assisted dialing, and companies that have contractual business relationships with the telephone company.

“Cramming is a simple, if pervasive, problem,” Koehler said.  “Companies are billing people for services they don’t want and that may not even actually exist.  We need a simple solution.  Prohibiting third-party charges on telephone bills should end cramming once and for all.”

Koehler’s plan has passed the Senate Commerce Committee and will now be considered by the full chamber.

Category: Press Releases

 

Category: Press Releases

Senator Dave Koehler attended a Fulton County Ag round table along with other lawmakers and agriculture leaders in Fulton county to discuss issues facing farmers in Central Illinois.  The panelists spoke on a variety of topics important to the agriculture needs of Illinois farmers, and discussed what could be done in Springfield to address these issues.

Senator Koehler also discussed Senate Bill 3176, a bill he is sponsoring which would help agri-business in controlling natural gas costs.  He stressed the importance of farmers, agri-business leaders, and county officials in working together to bring reform that boths meets the needs of farmers and the safety concerns of the county.

Panelists also discussed the importance of technoloy for rural areas.  In order to stay competitive, farmers need as much access to technology as urban areas.  Young farmers in Western Illinois know how to use technology, but the lack of access is an important issue that needs to be addressed. 

Senator Koehler stressed the importance of education for promoting the needs of farmers.  The farm bureau's Adopt a Legislator program teaches lawmakers the importance of Agriculture to Illinois and what specific needs the industry needs to continue to thrive.

"Agriculture is complex and the more we support it, the better we will understand it ” said Senator Koehler.

Category: News

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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