123456789SPRINGFIELD – To ensure that survivors of sexual assault have access to care and evidence collection during the COVID-19 pandemic, State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) helped pass a new law that would allow any federally qualified health center to administer rape kits during a public health crisis.

“The fear of going to a hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic has created a huge obstacle for sexual assault survivors,” Bennett said. “This law expands treatment options for survivors and enables them to seek justice, even during a public health crisis.”

Senate Bill 557 allows approved federally qualified health centers to perform rape kit examinations and collection during public health emergencies like COVID-19.

“Survivors of sexual assault deserve justice, care and comfort,” Bennett said. “We have to make sure services are available to help people who have been sexually assaulted during the coronavirus pandemic.”

The bill was signed into law June 5 and took effect immediately.

construction 1145406CHAMPAIGN – As temperatures rise, State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is urging outdoor workers to familiarize themselves with the warning signs and preventative measures for heat-related illnesses.

“As summer approaches, so do the dangers of working outside during hot weather,” Bennett said. “For workers who are exposed to the heat over the course of a work day, taking safety measures is an important part of staying healthy and comfortable.”

More than half of outdoor, heat-related deaths occur in the first few days of working in hot situations because the body needs to build a tolerance to heat gradually. Workers that do not acclimatize to the heat and humidity face a much greater risk factor for serious injury or death, according to the Illinois Department of Labor.

While heat can affect anyone, it poses specific dangers to workers who do physical labor in the humidity – both indoors or outdoors.

Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related health problem and can be fatal if not recognized and treated quickly. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms of heat stroke include:

  • Confusion, altered mental status, slurred speech
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Hot, dry skin or profuse sweating
  • Seizures
  • Very high body temperature
  • Fatal if treatment delayed

To prevent heat-induced illnesses, frequent breaks in the shade to drink cold water are recommended. For more information and other recommendations, visit www.cdc.gov.

IMG 9631 1SPRINGFIELD – As Illinois continues to address the COVID-19 pandemic, State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) hopes struggling families and local businesses will see relief under a state budget that sustains education funding at all levels and makes important investments in communities and programs to help begin to repair the economy.
 
To protect the public during this health crisis, this budget provides an additional $600 million to the Illinois Department of Public Health – in part thanks to the federal CARES Act – and fully funds other vital state agencies that are helping protect residents during this emergency. In addition, it provides an additional $400 million for local health departments.
 
“This budget represents stability in a time of uncertainty,” Bennett said. “We cannot combat the COVID-19 pandemic without investing in our public health departments, so these investments are critical as our health departments are our fighting force against this virus.”
 
To help communities recover from COVID-19, the budget also provides $200 million to help businesses in downstate communities. Nearly $80 million is set aside to help people with rent and mortgage assistance and nearly $60 million in additional funding to the Department of Employment Security to help address the challenges with the unemployment system.
 
“During this crisis, we have seen record increases in the number of people applying for unemployment, and it’s vital that IDES has the resources to aid residents who are struggling through this pandemic,” Bennett said. “This added funding is crucial to protect Illinoisans displaced by the pandemic.”
 
To ensure students do not fall behind, this budget also maintains the state’s commitment to fully fund P-12 education and represents level funding for higher education.
 
The approved budget is for Fiscal Year 2021, which begins July 1.

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SPRINGFIELD – A new law backed by State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) aims to provide relief and flexibility to property tax owners.

“We are seeing the economic impact COVID-19 is having on residents who are struggling to get by,” Bennett said. “With property taxpayers suffering, it made sense to do what we can to help working families and small businesses find additional savings.”

Under this legislation, local businesses and residents would see property tax relief in the form of:

  • Empowering county governments to approve 2020 homestead exemptions for those with disabilities, veterans with disabilities and senior citizens, as long as the property had been granted this exemption for 2019;
  • Allowing counties with less than 3 million residents to waive interest penalties and fees for late property tax payments due in 2020;
  • Deferred property tax sale.

“With residents desperate for property tax relief, these measures address problems plaguing property tax payers,” Bennett said.

The legislation - Senate Bill 685 - was signed into law Friday and is effective immediately.

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