081721CM0252 rSPRINGFIELD – Penicillium rubens, a strain of penicillium discovered in Peoria, will officially be Illinois’ state microbe thanks to legislation sponsored by State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria), signed into law Tuesday.

“The discovery of penicillium rubens in Peoria saved countless lives during World War II, and has saved many since,” Koehler said. “By making it our official microbe, we ensure that the story of P. rubens will be intertwined in our state history for generations to come.”

Penicillium was initially discovered by Scottish physician Alexander Fleming in 1928, and was found to be very effective in treating bacterial diseases. However, the drug was difficult to distribute on any large scale because it was not easy to produce. During World War II, there was a push to find a strain of the bacteria that could be quickly reproduced and distributed.

Penicillium rubens was discovered on a cantaloupe from a grocery store in Peoria, Illinois, and the fungus isolated from this cantaloupe produced several hundred times as much penicillin as Fleming's original cultures. This discovery allowed doctors and scientists to mass-produce penicillin in large enough quantities to distribute to the general public at the time, to Allied soldiers during WWII, and to countless individuals in the almost century since.

"When we look to our future as a state, it is proper to honor our past. Penicillium rubens was discovered in Peoria at our National Agriculture Utilization Laboratory and paved the way for Penicillin to improve health outcomes all over the world through the twentieth century. Life expectancy was lengthened worldwide because of this momentous work. If that is not a milestone worthy of recognition and hometown pride, then I certainly don't know what is," State Representative Ryan Spain (R-Peoria) said.

P. rubens will officially become the state microbe on January 1, 2022.

Category: Press Releases

haine 050118

State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) issued the following statement on the passing of former state senator Bill Haine:

Early Monday morning a friend and former colleague passed away. Senator Bill Haine served the people of the 56th State Senate District, which includes Alton and the Metro East area of Illinois, from January 2003 until he retired from the Senate in January of 2019.

Bill was a humble but extremely capable man. He was a Vietnam War veteran, a lawyer and former State’s Attorney for Madison County, and a member of the Illinois State Board of Elections up to his passing. He and his wife Anna raised seven children and have 38 grandchildren and one great-grandchild, many of whom visited the Senate chambers from time to time.

I knew Bill as a fellow legislator and member of the Downstate Senate Democratic Caucus. His wit and insight into issues of the day were always illuminating. On the floor of the senate he earned the reputation as historian of both relevant and obscure information. Often he would break into debate and drop one of his famous anecdotes of insight upon the conversation, which would usually provoke a laugh. We would all marvel at his depth of knowledge.

Bill Haine was a good friend to all who knew him. He was a legislator’s legislator. He was most of all an honest and faithful servant. We have been blessed to know him, and we will miss him.

Category: News

hygiene products 080521This week, three pieces of legislation were signed making feminine hygiene products more accessible for women and girls in Illinois. House Bill 641, House Bill 155, and House Bill 310 all remove financial barriers that have previously prevented individuals from purchasing hygiene products. The legislation builds on steps already taken in Illinois to expand reproductive equity and protect women’s access to healthcare. Read below to learn more about the new laws.

 

House Bill 641

No college student should have their education interrupted due to the inability to access pads, tampons, or other feminine hygiene products. To support women pursuing higher education, HB 641 requires all public universities and community colleges across the state to provide free feminine hygiene products in campus bathrooms.

The Board of Trustees at colleges and universities will determine the funding needed to meet the newly created requirement.

“Period poverty is a public health crisis, and these laws will enhance the everyday lives of people struggling to afford necessary menstrual hygiene products,” said State Senator Karina Villa (D-West Chicago). “Access and affordability of period products will no longer be a barrier to a student’s proper education or a person’s well-being in Illinois.”

“This legislation is an important step in normalizing menstruation. Approximately half our population experiences menstruation throughout a significant portion of their lifetimes,” said State Representative Katie Stuart (D-Edwardsville). “This is a normal function of our biology and needs to be seen and treated as such. Menstrual hygiene products should be in restrooms in our public spaces, just like any other hygiene products, and I want to thank the institutions of higher education across the state for coming to the table to work with me to make this happen on their campuses.”

HB 641 is effective immediately.

House Bill 155

Illinois women living at or below the poverty line often face the difficult decision of choosing between paying for food or housing or buying diapers or feminine hygiene products. HB 155 requires the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) to apply for a waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service, that would pave the way for recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) to use the two programs for diapers and menstrual hygiene products.

At this time, the federal waiver is not available to states, and feminine hygiene products are not currently allowable for SNAP or WIC. The administration will continue to advocate for the federal government to create a waiver to help ease the financial burden for thousands of women across the state.

“Across the country, 1 in 4 women regularly struggle to purchase menstrual products due to lack of income,” said State Representative Barbara Hernandez (D-Aurora). “Today, Illinois is taking steps to help low-income women in our state overcome that challenge. Fighting against problems like period poverty is a privilege, and I’m so happy to be able to move forward on this issue."

HB 155 is effective January 1, 2022.

House Bill 310

To protect the health and safety of the state’s most vulnerable residents, HB 310, the Feminine Hygiene Products for the Homeless Act, requires all homeless shelters granting temporary housing assistance to women and youth to provide products such as sanitary napkins, tampons, and panty liners free of charge, if their budget allows.

“People who have been deprived of so much should not be forced to use other items as makeshift sanitary products,” said State Senator Christopher Belt (D-Swansea). “I cannot personally imagine the indignity women in homeless shelters feel. Today, however, is a step toward ensuring no one else has to feel the pain or embarrassment of not having clean, safe feminine hygiene products.”

“These bills are about providing a lasting and sustainable solution to an increasingly prevalent problem by establishing access to fundamental supports for vulnerable individuals desperately in need,” said State Representative LaToya Greenwood (D-East St. Louis). “I remain committed to serving as a strong advocate for at-risk women and girls, particularly those whose voices are not being heard.”

HB 310 is effective January 1, 2022.

 

The legislation furthers ongoing work to make Illinois a national leader in ensuring women’s healthcare is a right, not a privilege. In 2019 the Reproductive Health Act became law, guaranteeing that women in Illinois have the right to choose. Additionally, the Breast and Cervical Cancer Program was expanded, which provides free screenings and diagnostic services to uninsured and underinsured women and also expanded insurance coverage for mammograms and other breast cancer screenings. Earlier this year, legislation was signed granting Illinoisans access to birth control over the counter.

Category: News

FOID signing 2 rAURORA – A longtime advocate of giving responsible gun owners a more modernized approach to obtaining firearm identification, State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) championed a law to streamline the FOID card process while keeping guns away from people who pose a threat to themselves or the community. 

"Responsible gun owners across the state have been fighting a backlog of FOID card applications for years," Koehler said. "When the Illinois State Police has to spend time and resources on addressing the backlog, they aren't able to appropriately prioritize keeping our communities safe from gun violence."

Under the new law, the FOID card renewal process will be expedited for safe and responsible gun owners in an effort to reduce hassle and prevent future backlogs. Lawful gun owners will additionally find it easier to keep their FOID cards and concealed carry licenses on them at all times through a new electronic option that will be made available for both documents.

"The law signed today streamlines the FOID card process for lawful and responsible gun owners in Illinois while closing loopholes that allow firearms to fall into dangerous hands," Koehler said. "Today is the first step toward having a safe and effective FOID system here in Illinois.”

Click here to listen to audio from the signing event.

House Bill 562 was signed into law Monday and will take effect Jan. 1, 2022.

Category: Press Releases

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