Beagle2The Associated Press - May 24, 2016 | As published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

SPRINGFIELD, Ill.  — A bill that would've required universities in Illinois to offer healthy feline and canine test subjects to rescue organizations has provoked a dispute between its Democratic sponsor and the University of Illinois.

The initial legislation from state Sen. Linda Holmes of Aurora stalled after the university said it already has adoption procedures in place and several lawmakers questioned whether it was a solution in search of a problem, the Chicago Tribune  reported.

The measure is nicknamed "the beagle bill" because beagles are the breed of dogs most commonly used for experiments and the adoption effort is bolstered by the Beagle Freedom Project, an animal rights group that's successfully lobbied for similar legislation in Minnesota, Connecticut, Nevada and California. The goal is to prevent animals from automatically being euthanized when labs are done testing on them.

Holmes argues that the University of Illinois doesn't support the measure because it has a vendetta against the Beagle Freedom Project and it doesn't want a spotlight shone on animal testing at its facilities.

University of Illinois officials deny any mistreatment of the school's research animals.

Spokeswoman Robin Kaler said the university's research animals are used in trials to test ingredients used in pet food. She said most of the animals are adopted and only some are euthanized so researchers can collect internal tissue for futher analysis.

Between 2011 and 2015, 24 dogs owned by the university for research purposes were adopted, five were euthanized and one remains on campus, according to data released by the school.

Holmes made several changes to the bill after the initial version was shot down. Last month, she proposed requiring universities to publicly post animals available for adoption online, and most recently proposed requiring universities to make their animal research protocols public.

But the University of Illinois continues to argue that the legislation isn't needed when most of its animals already found homes.

The changes were met by conflicting opinions from lawmakers who didn't see the need to override experts and others who didn't see any harm in enforcing new regulations.

Read the original article as published at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch here.

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Beagle1Chicago Tribune - May 23, 2016 | Original article

By Celeste Bott

What initially seemed like a feel-good animal rescue bill has sparked a fight between the University of Illinois and a lawmaker who says the state's largest public university is deliberately withholding information about its animal research programs.

Under a measure nicknamed "the beagle bill," Sen. Linda Holmes started out wanting to require universities to offer healthy cats and dogs to rescue organizations when they are no longer needed for testing. The Democrat from Aurora, who describes herself as a longtime animal lover and former Humane Society volunteer, argues that since research dogs and cats cost thousands of dollars, taxpayers should be given the chance to adopt the animals.

Beagles are the breed of dogs most commonly used for experiments, and the adoption effort is being pushed by the Beagle Freedom Project, a group that has successfully lobbied for similar legislation in Minnesota, Connecticut, Nevada and California. The idea is to prevent research animals from automatically being euthanized.

But the legislation has stalled after heated debate at a hearing where universities led by the U. of I. said they already have adoption polices in place. As such, several lawmakers questioned weather Holmes' bill was a solution in search of a problem.

Read more ...

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Sen. Holmes joins local officials and developers at groundbreaking ceremony of St. Charles property.

Aurora Breacon News - April 18, 2016 | Original article

By Steve Lord

Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner and other city officials last week took their case to Springfield for quick reauthorization of the River Edge Redevelopment Zone program and the historic tax credits that go with it.

Aurora has used the program for the $25 million renovation of the former St. Charles Hospital on Galena Boulevard near Lincoln Avenue on the near East Side.

The state tax credits were available because the St. Charles property - built in 1932 and on the National Register of Historic Places - is included in Aurora's River Edge Redevelopment Zone.

From this area, state Sen. Linda Holmes, D-Aurora, has signed onto the Senate bill, as has state Sen. Karen McConnaughay, R-St. Charles. On the House side, state Reps. Linda Chapa Lavia (D-Aurora) and Stephanie Kifowit (D-Oswego) are supporting the reauthorization.

Aurora was one of the first cities to take advantage of the River Edge program, and was the first city to seek and receive an expansion of its original zone. It was that expansion that put the St. Charles property inside the zone.

Read the full article here.

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Senator Holmes greets rescue beaglesABC 7 Chicago - April 19, 2016 | Original article

By Associated Press

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Furry, four-legged lobbyists visited the Illinois State Capitol to support legislation that would require research dogs and cats a chance at adoption.

Beagles rescued by the Beagle Freedom Project appeared Tuesday with their rescuers in favor of legislation introduced by Republican Rep. Margo McDermed of Mokena and Democratic Sen. Linda Holmes of Aurora. The bills are HB4297 and SB2356.

The measure would require labs - particularly at universities and other tax-supported facilities - to work with organizations to give animals have a chance at adoption rather than being euthanized.

Beagles are often used in research because they're docile and small.

The plan has no enforcement mechanism. Supporters say it would rely on labs to identify healthy animals eligible for new homes.

For more information about the Beagle Freedom Project, visit http://www.bfp.org/.

Read the full article at ABC 7 Eyewitness News.

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