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SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) passed a measure through the Senate this week to support horse races at the Illinois State Fair.  

Under current law, the Illinois Department of Agriculture is authorized to provide at least five days of horse racing at the Illinois State Fair. Bennett, who is the Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman, sponsored House Bill 3667 to provide an exception to this requirement if the Illinois Standardbred Breeders Fund Advisory Board requests an alternate racing program. 

“This measure will provide the DOA the flexibility to make adjustments to the horse racing schedule at the State Fair,” Bennett said. “It will help accommodate horse breeders and owners and ensure the horse racing industry and the thousands of jobs it creates remains an important part of the agricultural economy of our state."

The Advisory Board assists and advises the Department of Agriculture on expenditures and rulemaking concerning Standardbred horses and arcing programs.

HB 3667 has passed the Senate and the House of Representatives and now moves to the governor for approval.

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SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Scott Bennett passed legislation through the Senate this week to bolster privacy rights for crime victims in Illinois.

“Victims of crime and their families deserve the right to participate and be heard in the criminal justice system through the use of these powerful impact statements, but they also deserve to be treated with dignity, respect and sensitivity as they seek justice,” Bennett (D-Champaign) said. “The first and most important step in achieving this is by protecting their privacy.”

House Bill 3584 would provide a crime victim the right to register with the Prisoner Review Board’s victim registry and to submit a victim impact statement to the Board for consideration at hearings or executive clemency hearings. Impact statements are written or oral information from crime victims, in their own words, about how a crime has affected them.

The legislation clarifies that victim impact statements submitted to the Prisoner Review Board are confidential and privileged.

As a former prosecutor and Vice Chairman of the Senate Criminal Law Committee, Bennett has directed his efforts to securing rights, protections and services for victims going through the criminal justice system.

House Bill 3584 advances to the governor for consideration.

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SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois State Senate passed a measure this week sponsored by Senator Scott Bennett to help provide practical education programs to residents in all 102 counties in Illinois.

“Nearly every community in our state benefits from the University of Illinois’ Extension services,” Bennett (D-Champaign) said. “It’s crucial that we continue to invest in these educational programs to help our residents, businesses and communities solve problems, develop skills and build a better future.”

House Bill 2264 would require the State to make an annual appropriation for matching funds to the University of Illinois’ Cooperative Extension Services Program. Currently, the state may only provide 50 percent to county funds for the program.

The University of Illinois’ Extension offers education programs in five broad areas including energy and environmental stewardship; food safety and security; economic development and workforce preparedness; family health, financial security and wellness; and youth development.

More than 1.5 million Illinois residents take part in Extension programs each year, nearly 200,000 of whom participate in the 4-H program. UI Extension also offers hands-on workshops, field days and online self-paced tutorials.

HB 2264 has passed both the Senate and the House of Representatives and now moves to the governor for approval.

IEC press conference

SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) joined legislators, environmental groups and community leaders from across Illinois Tuesday to call on the General Assembly to be proactive about the hazardous coal ash pollution threatening Illinois lakes, rivers and streams.

“Coal ash pollution is not a partisan issue,” Bennet said. “There are coal ash pits in essentially every legislative district, so it’s important to recognize that it’s not a problem for one part of the state or one political party. It’s a problem for the state of Illinois.”

Bennett championed the Coal Ash Pollution Prevention Act to address this issue. Senate Bill 9 would direct the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to begin a rule-making process to require power plant operators to safely dispose of coal ash or ensure that pits are properly enclosed, impose fees on coal ash pits to pay the costs of hiring IEPA staff to oversee enforcement, and require power plant operators to set aside money to pay for cleaning up pits in the event a plant is shut down or a company goes bankrupt.

Portions of Bennett’s district include Vermillion County, where coal ash ponds from the retired Vermilion Power Station threaten to contaminate groundwater and the nearby Middle Fork of the Vermillion River. The IEPA has issued two violation notices to Dynegy Midwest Generation for pollution of groundwater and surface water from its three coal ash ponds near the plant.

Bennett said action is needed now because a United States EPA rule gives Illinois power companies until October 31, 2020, to close ash disposal areas that fail groundwater protection requirements, and the proposed measure would provide a framework for safe clean-up and closure. 

“Historically, Illinois is addicted to crisis. It cares after the problem occurs but it doesn’t do anything to get in front of the problem and avoid it,” Bennett said. “It is time to change that trend with bills like Senate Bill 9. This is a good, proactive legislation that provides us with the protections, regulations and financial assurances that we need to prevent more coal ash crises in Illinois.”

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Office Info

Champaign Office:
45 E. University Suite 206
Champaign, IL 61820
P: (217) 355-5252

Danville Office:
201 N. Vermilion St. Suite 323
Danville, IL 61832
P: (217) 442-5252

Springfield Office:
311C State House
Springfield, IL 62706
P: (217) 782-2507