CommitteepicturersSPRINGFIELD- Illinois families worried about the financial security of loved ones suffering from disabilities could soon have another resource to promote their independence.  

State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) advanced Senate Bill 1383, which creates a tax exempt plan to assist individuals and families in saving money to cover the expenses for people with disabilities.

“We all want our loved ones to be able to live their lives with respect and dignity. This legislation allows families to provide a stable future by paying for basic expenses,” said Bennett. “Without resources like this, many people with disabilities are unable to have the opportunity to be financially independent.”

The initiative creates the Illinois Achieving Better Life Expectancy Act (ABLE Act), which creates accounts similar to tax-advantaged college saving plans where income earned in the account is not taxable. This legislation comes after the Federal Government passed the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014 with bipartisan support. States are required to pass enacting legislation to establish ABLE accounts.

The Treasurer’s office would be responsible to create ABLE accounts in accordance with federal rules and regulations.

“We want to provide financial resources to help ensure families can afford to take care of their loved ones,” said Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs. “By creating ABLE accounts, we can offer a tax-advantage to help establish the financial security necessary for those family members who need it the most.”

The accounts can be used to pay for qualifying expenses such as education, health, housing and transportation costs.

SB 1383 passed the Senate’s committee on State Government and Veterans Affairs and now goes to the full Senate for consideration.

BennettComfortCanineSPRINGFIELD- It is a traumatic experience for a seven- year-old girl to have to explain experiences of sexual abuse to a courtroom full of strangers and her attacker. To relieve some of this stress and anxiety, Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) advanced Senate Bill 1389 to permit courts to allow comfort canines in courtrooms.

“During my time as a prosecutor, we had to deal with the difficult task of putting children on the stand to testify and go through the emotional struggle of explaining a traumatic experience,” said Bennett. “Our goal is to alleviate some of their anxiety and stress by providing some comfort through the use of therapy dogs.”     

SB 1389 would allow courts to authorize the use of “comfort canines” when children or others with a severe developmental or intellectual disability have to testify in court on sexual assault cases.  

Authorized dogs would be required to go through training and be evaluated and registered as a member of Assistance Dogs International.

“We need to do whatever we can to provide additional support to children during these distressing experiences,” said Bennett. “The use of dogs in the courtroom can help bring a major change in how we can meet the emotional needs of those involved in the criminal justice system.”

This measure passed out of the Senate’s Committee on Criminal Justice and now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

BennettSeniorDanville15resizeDANVILLE – Working to bring state services and free health screenings to seniors in Danville and Rantoul, State Senator Scott Bennett (D–Champaign) is hosting free senior workshops next week.  

DANVILLE:

Date: Wednesday, April 1, 2015
Time: 9:30 a.m. to noon
Location: CRIS Healthy Aging Center, 309 N. Franklin Street, Danville, IL

Services available:

•    Presentation on financial and health care fraud from the Attorney General’s Office
•    Presentations on services by Melody Erhlich, Regional Director of Presence Health, Sue Rieche from Community Action Weatherization/Energy and Representatives from CRIS Healthy Aging Center
•    Live Zumba Presentation with CURVES Health Club
•    Flu shots and healthcare information provided by Walgreens (Please bring your insurance information)
•    Illinois Treasurer’s office will be available to help seniors access the state's I-CASH Database to search for unclaimed property

RANTOUL:

Date: Thursday, April 2, 2015
Time: 9:30 a.m. to noon
Location: Rantoul Recreation Department, 100 W. Flessner Ave., Rantoul, IL

Services available:

•    Presentation on financial and health care fraud from the AARP
•    Information on community volunteer opportunities with Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP)
•    Flu shots and healthcare information provided by Walgreens (Please bring your insurance information)
•    Illinois Treasurer’s office will be available to help seniors access the state's I-CASH Database to search for unclaimed property

BennettTechnicalSPRINGFIELD- A survey released earlier this year revealed there will be more than 500 new jobs in central Illinois that will need to be filled by those trained in career and technical programs such as welding, trucking and design engineering.

However, employers will be unable to fill these jobs due to workforce shortages in the region.

State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) advanced Senate Bill 1393 to promote a career and technical education to help alleviate workforce shortages in Illinois.

“Not all students are interested in four-year degrees. Career and technical training is an opportunity for students to jump start their training while in school and find good-paying jobs immediately after graduation,” Bennett said. “We need to match Illinois residents with high-demand jobs to keep employers and workers in Illinois.”

SB 1393 requires the Illinois State Board of Education to identify industries and occupations in Illinois that face workforce shortages or a lack of adequately trained, entry-level workers and award grants of $1,000 per pupil to school districts for each student who successfully completes an industry-recognized certification program that was designed to mitigate workforce shortages.

“There are real jobs here at home. This initiative will ensure we continue to work to guarantee Illinois’ workforce meets the demands of our economy,” Bennett said.

The measure passed the Senate’s Education Committee and now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

 

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