SPRINGFIELD- In 2013, more than 5 million riders at Illinois stations took over 20,160 Amtrak trains in Illinois.

The Senate’s Higher Education Committee met today to discuss the effects on state universities and colleges of Governor Rauner’s proposed 40 percent cut to Amtrak funding. Cuts in the state subsidy would result in fewer trains and takes Amtrak service expansions off the table.

CommitteeHearing5.19.15“Amtrak service in Champaign-Urbana draws prospective students to the University of Illinois,” said State Senator Scott Bennett. “Cutting funding for Amtrak is counterproductive. We need to continue to look for ways to grow rail systems in Illinois to draw more students and attract economic opportunities to central Illinois.”   

The Illini-Saluki service is the third most traveled route in Illinois. University students and their families rely on trains to visit Champaign-Urbana and return home.

“Over the past three years, I have taken 39 trips on Amtrak. I spent $528.70 on travel fares. If I had driven the 3,033 miles and was reimbursed at the state’s rate, this would have cost $1,713.65,” said Mitch Dickey, Student Body President at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.  “Amtrak is the main source of transportation for students at UIUC and an important component of my college career in Champaign.”

At the end of fiscal year 2013, Amtrak employed 1,482 Illinois residents. During this time the total wages of Amtrak employees living in Illinois were $100,310,353.

Although, Danville doesn’t have direct service, Amtrak brings economic opportunities to the region.

“We need to look at these cuts with a regional perspective. Losing transportation connectivity in Illinois puts us as a disadvantage to Indiana as businesses look for places to locate and expand,” said Scott Eisenhauer, Mayor of Danville.

 

SPRINGFIELD- One in five undergraduate women will become a victim of rape or attempted rape, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

CommitteepicturersTo combat campus sexual violence State Senator Scott Bennett advanced House Bill 821 to increase protections for Illinois students.

“We send our children to college to better themselves and obtain the necessary skills to move on to future careers and be successful. The last thing they should have to worry about is sexual violence,” said Bennett.

HB 821 creates the Preventing Sexual Violence on Campus Act, which provides a roadmap to existing federal requirements and sets standards to prevent and respond to sexual violence.

This legislation requires all higher education institutions to do three things.

First, develop clear and comprehensive campus sexual violence plans to ensure there are guidelines to follow.

Second, notify student survivors about their rights and provide a confidential adviser to help them understand their options.

Lastly, colleges and universities are required to train students and employees and adopt a fair and balanced process to address allegations of sexual violence.

“Our number one goal is to end campus assault. However, if an attack occurs, clear and concise guidelines give victims a comprehensive path to report crimes and be notified of their rights,” said Bennett.      

House Bill 821 passed the Senate’s Committee on Criminal Justice and now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

BennettComm4.27.15SPRINGFIELD- Residue from cigarette smoke toxins that linger on surfaces long after cigarettes have been extinguished is called thirdhand smoke. Currently, children in commercial and home day cares could possibly be exposed to it.  

Today, State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) advanced legislation to protect children from the dangers of smoke while spending time in daycares.   

“Due to babies, toddlers and children’s curious nature, they are more susceptible to the deadly effects of thirdhand smoke. They are more likely to be crawling on the floor and putting things in their mouths which exposes them to tobacco residue,” said Bennett. “It’s our duty as adults to take care of children and put protections in place to protect their well-being.”

Studies have shown that toxins can linger for days, weeks or even months after a cigarette has been smoked. Harmful particles can remain on floors, counters, furniture and other surfaces and fabrics.

“As a father of two young children, I see my children crawl on rugs, fall asleep almost anywhere and teethe on anything they can get their mouths on. These are easily places that can be home for tobacco toxins,” said Bennett. “The new guidelines will provide our children with helpful safeguards to lead healthy lives.”

Currently, smoking is permissible in designated areas or while children are not present. House Bill 3531 puts regulations in place to prohibit smoking in day care centers whether or not children are present.

HB 3531 passed the Senate’s Committee on Public Health and now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

CWS MahometAquifer ISWS1006SPRINGFIELD- Central Illinois residents have moved one step closer in their three year battle to protect the Mahomet Aquifer. State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) advanced House Bill 1326 to protect residents across Central Illinois from contaminated drinking water.

“The Mahomet Aquifer serves as a lifeline for our region. It’s our duty to protect this important resource for the sake of our children,” said Bennett. “This proposal will further the mission of the Mahomet Aquifer Protection Alliance by instituting guidelines to protect our underground water source.”

The Aquifer serves as the primary water supply for 14 counties across Central Illinois including Champaign and Vermilion counties.  

The Mahomet Aquifer Protection Alliance is a group of Central Illinois citizens who are committed to keeping the Aquifer free of contamination. Local communities across central Illinois have banded together to fight the disposal of dangerous toxins at the Clinton Landfill, which sits atop the Aquifer.

As a result of their efforts, last year the Mahomet Aquifer was designated as a Sole Source Aquifer, which provides federal protection.  

“This legislation will move us one step closer to achieving our goal. However, we do recognize there may still be more work to do to ensure there is safe drinking water for central Illinois residents for generations to come,” said Bennett.  

Representative Carol Ammons sponsored this legislation in the House.

HB 1326 passed the Senate’s Committee on Environment and Conservation and now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

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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