On the Record: State Sen. Koehler talks how local lawmakers are addressing gun violence, Illinois’ energy bill

On The Record

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Illinois recently passed an energy bill transitioning to clean energy by 2050.

State Sen. Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) was a supporter of this bill and joined WMBD’s Matt Sheehan for On the Record Friday morning.

What the clean energy bill does for Illinois

Some critics of the legislation said it will take away a lot of good-paying jobs from the state. Koehler said the state’s plan is to replace the lost jobs will new jobs.

“There’s consumer protection, residents can’t be charged late fees or penalties when they get behind on their bills,” Koehler said. “It also provides a lot for workforce development. We need to retrain and protect those workers who have been displaced because of a coal plant being shut down.”

Koehler said this bill also has a focus on diversity and creates 13 new regions for workforce development.

“That’s an important part of the bill. It sets up a lot of transition periods between now and 2050,” Koehler said.

Koehler mentioned the bill will raise monthly energy bills for everyone.

“It basically creates a surcharge for every ratepayer across the State. It’ll be around $3 to $3.50 a month. That’s to keep our nuclear fleet intact. 50% of our energy is provided by nuclear power,” Koehler said.

Koehler said if we were to lose any of the nuclear fleet, we would have to import electricity from other states.

“It’d probably be dirty energy, not clean, nuclear energy, and the price would go up,” Koehler said.

How local lawmakers are addressing gun violence

Peoria just reported its 24th homicide of 2021. This is a sharp increase from 2020, which saw 14 homicides, but the city is also approaching 2019’s numbers when the city saw 25 murders.

What can state lawmakers do to combat gun violence?

“We need to have more resources for law enforcement. We need to have better strategies at how to engage the community,” Koehler said. “This is, unfortunately, an epidemic that’s happening across the country. We need to have a proactive stance on this.”

Thursday, Koehler praised Illinois State Police (ISP) for decreasing the FOID card application backlog.

“Our communities have been struggling with the backlog for years,” Koehler said. “Safe and responsible gun owners who are doing the lawful thing by submitting their applications and waiting their turn should have quicker access to obtaining their licenses. I’m pleased to know that the unnecessary hassle and lengthy wait times are dissipating.”

Recently, ISP hired nearly 30 new Firearms Eligibility Analyst Trainees and other administrative personnel who are responsible for improving and streamlining FOID application processing. The increased employment led to a backlog reduction of 89% for renewals and 75% for new applications,

The reduction in the backlog came just months before House Bill 562, a law sponsored by Koehler and initiated by the state police, goes into effect. 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. A new electronic option will be made available for FOID cards and concealed carry licenses, making it easier for lawful gun owners to keep track of both licenses at all times.

“We can keep firearms out of the hands of those who are a danger to themselves and others without infringing on the rights of responsible and lawful gun owners,” Koehler said. “This legislation achieves both of these goals, and it has been a pleasure to work alongside the Illinois State Police to develop and pass this law that will help keep our communities safe.”

Koehler recently announced more than $200,000 for Peoria Public Schools.

On the Record will not air through the next few weeks. Sheehan plans to host State Rep. Ryan Spain (R-Peoria) in early November to talk about legislative maps and other current issues.

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