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Update from the Capitol 8/7/2020

Friday, August 07, 2020 - Posted 1:35:55 PM by Rep. Tom Bennett

Tom Bennett

 Pritzker again seeks business penalties for Covid violations

 Governor Pritzker today again announced a new plan to penalize businesses for not complying with Cornonavirus restrictions he is implementing through the Department of Public Health.  The Joint Committee on Administrative Rules will meet to take up the issue on Tuesday, but I believe this is an issue that needs to come before the General Assembly. Read more here.

No Response from Pritzker to local stories of IDES failures

On July 29th I sent Governor Pritzker a direct appeal on behalf of local families thrown out of work by state's coronavirus response that have since been failed by the Illinois Department of Employment Security.  You can read the letter here. Since that date, I have been waiting for the Governor to acknowledge the serious problems our local families are having in getting the unemployment benefits they desperately need; and in many cases, even getting a return call from IDES.

As I write this, the Governor has not responded.

Meanwhile, Governor Pritzker admits that more than 100,000 cases of unemployment fraud have been reported across our state, but he continues to blame the federal government. Read more here.

Utility Disconnection Moratorium

There's a bit of good news this week from the Illinois Commerce Commission for those having a hard time keeping up with their utility bills during our ongoing Covid restrictions. Several utilities, including Ameren Illinois, Commonwealth Edison, and Illinois American Water have voluntarily agreed to keep customers connected for another month.  Learn more about the disconnection moratorium here.

What you can expect if Census workers come to your home

If you haven't yet answered the 2020 census online or by mail you will likely soon receive a visit by a worker from the Census Bureau to collect information.

The census workers will be wearing masks, and they will follow CDC and local public health guidelines when they visit.  Anyone 16 years or older may answer the questions for the residence.  A younger child may help translate for an older member of the household if needed.

If no one is home when the census taker visits, he or she will leave a Notice of Visit with information about how to respond online or by phone.

Community College reopening update

Please join Dr. Tom Ramage, President of Parkland College, Dr. Steven Nacco, President of Danville Area Community College and me to talk about the vital role that Community Colleges play in our state today. We will learn more about how they're adapting to COVID19 and opening up classes this fall for 4 year/2 year college degrees and important trade programs.  Please Select here for the link and more information.

 Reminder: Drop off your old prescription drugs in Watseka on August 12

 To help make sure local residents have the chance to properly dispose of unused prescription drugs, 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.

How much do we owe?

 As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $4,907,832,643 in unpaid bills to state vendors. One year ago, the backlog stood at approximately $6.0 billion. This figure represents the amount of bills submitted to the office of the Comptroller and still awaiting payment. As of August 1, 2020, $1.05 billion is owed under interfund borrowing authorization (Public Act 101-0010) and $1.2 billion in additional short-term borrowing through the Federal Reserve's Municipal Liquidity Facility.

 More news from around the state

 New Ford County Covid cases tied to Paxton long term care facility: coronavirus/coronavirus- response-8-new-cases-in-ford- county-tied-to-paxton-long- term-care-facility/article_ d3a853b7-10fa-5c12-b6e0- 59169af918bc.html

Pritzker warns of budget cuts if there's no federal bailout: https://www.chicagotribune. com/coronavirus/ct- coronavirus-illinois-pritzker- 20200805- 2w7wojdzybc2nk4ild23v5oqzm- story.html

Despite admissions, Com Ed pleads "not guilty" in bribery scandal: politics/2020/8/5/21355828/ comed-pleads-not-guilty- bribery-scheme-despite- admissions-government-deal

Illinois surrounded by states with lower gas tax rates: https://www.illinoispolicy. org/illinois-drivers- surrounded-by-states-with- lower-gas-tax-rates/

Deer Firearm and Muzzleloader Hunting 3rd Lottery application period ends on August 21. Apply here: https://www2.illinois. gov/dnr/hunting/Pages/ DeerFirearmMuzzleloader.aspx

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