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Update from the Capitol 8/12/2020

Wednesday, August 12, 2020 - Posted 7:58:57 PM by Rep. Tom Bennett

Tom Bennett

.JCAR taking a look at proposed mask rule affecting businesses

On Friday Governor Pritzker filed an emergency rule which would impose a Class A misdemeanor on businesses which do not enforce the state's mask mandate on individuals in their place of business. Conviction of a Class A misdemeanor can result in a fine of up to $2500. The Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) will review this rule on Tuesday. JCAR raised enough objections to a similar rule in May to stop it from going into effect.

All through the spring and summer I have called for the legislature and local leaders to be involved in making decisions regarding the state's coronavirus response. This is another example of the kind of overreach that can occur when we have government-by-executive decree. This proposal affects every person in Illinois, and it should therefore be considered by their elected representatives, not done via an emergency rule.

Governor Pritzker should withdraw this unilateral order.

Members of the public may submit comments to JCAR via e-mail at

IHDA_ERA_Page_1.jpgEmergency assistance available for rent

Applications are open from today until August 21 for Illinoisans to apply for rental assistance from the Illinois Housing Development Authority. If you suffered a loss of income due to the coronavirus outbreak and have missed a rent payment since March 1, you might qualify for this emergency assistance.

Funds are limited, so applicants should get their information submitted as soon as possible. To find our more or to apply, please visit or call toll-free 1-888-252-1119.

Dispelling rumors about the Census

Census takers have begun making in-person visits to those who have not yet filled out the Census questionnaire. As they have reached out to people, a number of questions, concerns and even rumors have been circulating about what they do with the information they collect. To help address some of these concerns, the U.S. Census Bureau has put together an information page with facts about the Census and their answers to some common questions and rumors about it. Click here for more information.

Bennett_Discussion_8-13-20-01.jpgJoin us for a discussion about how local community colleges are handling the pandemic

Thursday at 5 p.m. I will be joined by Dr. Tom Ramage, President of Parkland College and Dr. Steven Nacco, President of Danville Area Community College for a Facebook live discussion of the value of our local community colleges to our communities and the impact which the pandemic has had on their classes.

This discussion should be an interesting one as they attempt to safely begin their fall semester. Visit my Facebook page for more information.

State tax revenue up in July, mainly due to adjusted deadline

As part of the coronavirus response, the Illinois Department of Revenue postponed the state's tax filing deadline from April to July. Not surprisingly, the result was an increase in tax revenue collected in July 2020 compared to July 2019. Last month, tax revenue to the state was $2.7 billion, an increase of $1.1 billion compared to one year ago.

Overall, however, the state continues to be in difficult shape due to the worldwide economic downturn and our continued bad fiscal habits. Though the state and national economies are improving from the depths of the pandemic in the spring, Illinois unemployment remained at 14.6% as of the most recent report, and sales tax receipts are still down. We are making progress, but still have a very long way to go.

More news from around the state

The latest update from the Department of Public Health

Twenty weeks of extended regular state benefits now available

WGN investigation: 78.5 million calls to IDES from March 1 to July 1, less than 1% answered

Iroquois County among 13 more Illinois counties added to coronavirus warning level

Illinois health expert warns: Don't overlook allergy-like symptoms

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).