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Update from the Capitol 7/31/2020

Friday, July 31, 2020 - Posted 6:23:00 PM by Rep. Tom Bennett

Tom Bennett

Madigan must step down as Speaker

For more than a week we have been following a Federal investigation into Commonwealth Edison that has resulted in revelations of potential corruption by Speaker of the Illinois House Michael Madigan. Com Ed has been cooperating with Federal prosecutors, and has admitted to seeking special favors and legislation from the Speaker, who so far has been referred to as Public Official A.

These are allegations of serious corruption, and if proven true, must result in Michael Madigan's resignation from his seat in the House of Representatives. But it is clear that while this investigation is ongoing, Madigan will be unable to fulfill his very important duties as Speaker, and must step down from that position immediately.

This week I joined many of my House colleagues in demanding Governor Pritzker call an immediate Special Session of the General Assembly to deal with this ongoing ethics crisis. And I'm co-sponsoring House Resolution 885 to remove Michael Madigan from the office of Speaker. The resolution must be adopted as soon as we reconvene to allow a vote on a new Speaker who can help repair the public's shattered confidence in our state government.


Action needed to fix failing IDES system

This week I wrote to Governor Pritzker to make him aware of the challenges many of our neighbors are facing because of the slow response of the Illinois Department of Employment Security in processing unemployment applications. A million Illinoisans have lost their jobs due to the pandemic and the resulting shutdowns, but they have not been able to get the help they have been promised from state government due to long delays and an inability to get phone calls answered or returned.

My office has received calls and e-mails from dozens of local residents who have found themselves in this difficult situation through no fault of their own. We are doing all we can to assist, but have run into many of the same obstacles: slow response times and long waits for answers. I realize this situation is unprecedented, but time is running out for those who still have groceries to buy and mortgages to pay. I sought to make the Governor aware of exactly how critical this situation has become and asked for his intervention to fix this broken system before it is too late.


Drop off your old prescription drugs in Watseka on August 12

Many Illinoisans have expired or unused prescription drugs in their medicine cabinets which need to be properly disposed of. To help make sure local residents have the chance to properly dispose of these items, I will be joining with the Iroquois County Sheriff's Department on Wednesday August 12 to host a prescription drug drop-off event from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. at the Sheriff's office at 550 S. 10th Street in Watseka.

We will be accepting prescription medications, ointments and patches, as well as pet medications and vitamins. Needles or illegal drugs will not be accepted. You will be able to remain in your car as you drop off any medications.


Checking in with local superintendents

Wednesday morning I hosted a Zoom conference call for our local school superintendents to talk about their plans for safely re-opening schools this fall. Our special guests on the call were Amanda Elliott and Hector Rodriguez of the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). We had a good discussion of the many different challenges our local schools are facing, and how they can work together with ISBE and the state and local health agencies to address them.

This situation continues to evolve as parents, teachers, students, health officials and school administrators work toward solutions toward the many questions which have been raised in this unprecedented time. I appreciate the hard work of everyone involved as we work to get our kids back to school safely this fall.

Update on preparations for opening schools this fall

Join me at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, August 5 for an update on the preparation, expectations and challenges for school districts as they finalize their plans to open this fall. School Superintendent Ryan McGuckin, Superintendent Paula Crane and Superintendent Jeremy Darnell will be my guests for a Facebook live discussion. Please Select here for the link and more information.

How much do we owe?

As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $4,452,057,203 in unpaid bills to state vendors. One year ago, the backlog stood at $6.0 billion. This figure represents the amount of bills submitted to the office of the Comptroller and still awaiting payment. It does not include debts that can only be estimated, such as our unfunded pension liability which is subject to a wide range of factors and has been estimated to be more than $137 billion.

More news from around the state

The latest update from the Department of Public Health

COVID-19 numbers up in Iroquois, Livingston, Kankakee and Vermilion counties early this week

Livingston County sees COVID spike

Normalcy ‘six months off' Pritzker says

Agriculture officials sound alarm about suspicious seeds coming in mail from China

Sign the petition to demand that Governor Pritzker call a special session for ethics reform

State Fire Marshal: Keep summer fun by keeping kids safe

Illinois State Museum re-opens

For additional helpful resources, click here.

For continually updated news from state agencies, visit: or my website at and click on COVID-19 Info. Persons with coronavirus questions or concerns should call the statewide toll-free coronavirus hotline at 1-800-889-3931. You can also submit questions via e-mail at

My district offices remain closed to in-person visits, but are still accessible by phone at (815) 432-0106 (Watseka) and (815) 844-9179 (Pontiac).


Tom Bennett