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“Maintaining clean and safe drinking water for our citizens is vital to protecting the public health and future development of our communities.” - State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign)

SPRINGFIELD – Legislation aimed at protecting the drinking water of the Mahomet Aquifer passed the Illinois Senate today. The measure, Senate Bill 611, creates the Mahomet Aquifer Protection Task Force to address the issue of maintaining the clean drinking water of the Mahomet Aquifer.

State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) sponsored the legislation to protect downstate Illinoisans who get their drinking water from the aquifer.

“We have to take steps to prevent disasters like the one in Flint from happening in our backyard,” Bennett said. “Maintaining clean and safe drinking water for our citizens is vital to protecting the public health and future development of our communities.”

The Mahomet Aquifer includes river basins and surface waters and supplies water to portions of 15 counties and over 800,000 people in east-central Illinois. The aquifer, which ranges from 50 to 200 feet thick, supplies more than 100 million gallons of water for public use per day.

SB 611 now moves on to the House of Representatives.

Category: Press Releases

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“Before the governor demanded a permanent property tax freeze, he never met with the Illinois State Board of Education to determine what it would do to local school districts.” - State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign)

SPRINGFIELD – A permanent property tax freeze from Springfield will only squeeze local schools and park districts according to one Illinois State Senator.

State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) says that while the freeze may be a good talking point, in reality it squeezes school districts that have been shortchanged by Springfield for years.

“Before the governor demanded a permanent property tax freeze, he never met with the Illinois State Board of Education to determine what it would do to local school districts,” Bennett said. “I don’t know how you make a decision that consequential without talking to your own experts.”

In a hearing on Thursday at the Senate Appropriations Committee, Bennett challenged the assertion that Springfield’s freezing of property taxes permanently will amount to returning control to taxpayers.

“Springfield does not spend or collect a single dollar of property taxes,” said Bennett. “Property taxes are set locally by people we elect, that is the very essence of local control.”

Bennett later said that while he agrees that the property tax burden is large, he believes the Senate’s bipartisan plan to temporarily freeze property taxes will bring stability and predictability.

“What we have proposed in the Senate is to freeze property taxes for a few years so we can see the results,” Bennett said. “If there are no negative effects and the voters are happy with the freeze, they will be more than able to decide to extend it.”

Category: Press Releases

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“A victim should not be burdened with restarting their entire life from the ground up, and this legislation is just one of the many things that can help prevent that.” - State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign)

SPRINGFIELD – Victims of domestic abuse will be able to keep their phone numbers while separating from a shared plan with their abuser under legislation that passed the Senate today.

The measure, sponsored by State Senator Steve Stadelman (D-Rockford), allows victims to petition the court for the right to continue using the same phone number when they file a petition for an order of protection.

State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) co-sponsored the legislation because of his experiences as an Assistant State’s Attorney in Champaign County.

“In today’s world, having a cell phone has gone from being a luxury to a necessity,” Bennett said. “A victim should not be burdened with restarting their entire life from the ground up, and this legislation is just one of the many things that can help prevent that.”

Senate Bill 57 now goes to the House of Representatives.

Category: Press Releases

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“We cannot hope to prevent domestic abuse if we do not adequately fund the facilities and services that actively work with victims.” - State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign)

SPRINGFIELD – For many abused women, domestic violence shelters are the last refuge from which they can begin to rebuild their lives. These very shelters, however, are now on the verge of closing due to the state’s historic budget impasse.

One such shelter is the Urbana-based provider Courage Connection. The facility is the only domestic violence shelter in Champaign-Urbana. In December, the provider learned that the $600 million in the state’s stopgap budget did not include its funding.

On Tuesday, the Illinois Senate heard testimony from the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault to discuss how the budget impasse was putting the safety and well-being of abuse victims in danger.

“Approximately 40,000 fewer Illinois students received prevention education programs last year,” said Polly Poskin, executive director of the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault. “Rape victims are hurt by the impasse as waiting lists for crucial counseling and advocacy services expand.”

State Senator Scott Bennett, a Democrat who represents the Champaign-Urbana area in the Senate, says the lack of funding for domestic violence programs is unconscionable.

“We cannot hope to prevent domestic abuse if we do not adequately fund the facilities and services that actively work with victims,” Bennett said. “While we sit in Springfield debating our business climate, very real people are suffering beyond belief.”

Bennett is no stranger to working with abuse victims. A former Champaign County Assistant State’s Attorney, Bennett has drawn on his experiences as a prosecutor to pass legislation out of the Senate that would help the victims of sexual assault.

Category: Press Releases

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