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.

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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

Read the full article at ABC 7 Eyewitness News.

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Aurora Beacon-News - April 16, 2016 | Original article

A section of Illinois 31 in North Aurora was renamed Saturday to honor Army Spc. Christopher Patterson in a ceremony attended by about 250 people, including Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Patterson was 20 years old when the Humvee in which he was riding struck an explosive device in the Kandahar Province of Afghanistan on Jan. 6, 2012, killing him and three other members of the 713th Engineer Company on board. The West Aurora graduate was a member of the Indiana National Guard.

State Reps. Linda Chapa LaVia, D-Aurora; Stephanie Kifowit, D-Oswego; and Mike Fortner, R-West Chicago; and state Sen. Linda Holmes, D-Aurora, attended the event, as did North Aurora Mayor Dale Berman.

Holmes said she did not know Christopher Patterson personally but that did not diminish her "debt of gratitude" for the ultimate sacrifice the young man paid for his country.

"For families, the loss never goes away," Holmes said. "There will always be an empty place at the holiday table, and the hole in their hearts can never be filled, especially for a young man whose life shone as brightly and as honorable as Christopher's," Holmes said.

Read the full article at the Aurora Beacon-News.

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