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Update from the Capitol 8/16/2019

Friday, August 16, 2019 - Posted 10:16:37 AM by Rep. Tom Bennett

As always, you can contact me via webform at, or by phone at (815) 432-0106 (Watseka) or (815) 844-9179 (Pontiac). Thank you for the honor of serving as our district's representative in Springfield.

Introducing the Hometown in the Heartland photography contest

This fall I am launching the "Hometown in the Heartland" 106th District Photo Contest. Winning photos will be displayed throughout all of 2019 in my offices here in the district and in Springfield.

As I've traveled all around our district, I've met some great people, attended hometown events and learned that life in the heartland is to be cherished. Getting to know each town in our district has made me want to showcase these special times through a contest where participants can capture the splendor of our area through the lenses of their cameras.

The contest is limited to photographers from the 106th District and the photos should be taken in the district as well. A map of the 106th District can be found at Those wishing to enter the contest may submit up to 3 entries before the deadline of 6:00 PM on Friday, October 25, 2019. Participants should include their name, phone number and location where the photo was taken with each entry. Entries should be emailed

I will choose winning entries and invite photographers for a photo and unveiling at my district office or in Springfield. For additional information about the photo contest, please call my Springfield office at (217) 558-1039.

‘Friend of Infrastructure' award

It was an honor to accept the 2019 Friend of Infrastructure Award from the Transportation for Illinois Coalition. This award was presented to members of the House and Senate who supported legislation this spring to help our state and local economy by fixing our roads and other transportation infrastructure.

As part of the presentation, I got the chance to visit one of the many construction sites in our area – this one was in Livingston County – where local workers are improving our roads. It was a real hands-on learning experience to see the equipment that these workers use to make our road system safe for our families and businesses to use. These men and women are out in the hot weather this summer fixing potholes and cracked concrete; and in some places they are completely rebuilding sections of roads that have deteriorated in the years since our last capital infrastructure funding bill.

I appreciate the hard work that they do each and every day all over our district and throughout the state to keep our roads safe and keep our Illinois products moving to markets.

How much do we owe?

As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $6,613,650,084 in unpaid bills to state vendors. One year ago, the backlog stood at $7.4 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 approximately $133 billion.

Three Bennett bills signed into law

Over the past few days Governor Pritzker has signed into law three bills which I sponsored this spring. Two others have passed both houses and are still awaiting his determination.

Among those he signed was HB 344, which allows residents of state-run assisted living facilities and their families to use electronic monitoring to ensure that they are receiving the highest quality of care. The bill sets out the guidelines for the monitoring, including privacy protections and the required notifications to those who are being monitored.

The Governor also signed SB 1568, legislation which will help protect infants from life-threatening hazards. We have seen unexplained deaths of children in Illinois attributed to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) when there were other dangerous factors present which could have contributed to the deaths. This legislation requires more thorough investigations before declaring SIDS the cause of death. These investigations might help us to identify dangers and prevent children from being exposed to these hazards in the future.

Lastly, SB 1788 has become law. This legislation simply made a small change to the makeup of the program board which oversees the Diversifying Higher Education in Illinois Act. I am proud to report that all three of these bills passed with very large, bipartisan majorities. It is proof that we can work together in Springfield, and proof that when we are willing to do so, we can accomplish good things for the people of Illinois.

Medicaid reform legislation signed into law

Speaking of bipartisanship, Governor Pritzker has signed a bipartisan Medicaid reform bill that will improve the overall effectiveness of Illinois' health care system, while adding transparency and increasing access.

The bill, SB 1321, makes it possible for several state agencies, such as the Departments of Healthcare and Family Services, Human Services, Aging and the Department of Innovation and Technology, to process applications more efficiently and to expand access to health care for low-income Illinoisans. The legislation improves the transparency and accountability of the process by which claims go from providers to Managed Care Organizations (MCOs).

The new law requires MCOs to make payments within 30 days and to expedite payments to providers serving large Medicaid populations. Among these providers are long-term care facilities where more than 80 percent of residents receive Medicaid, safety-net hospitals and government-owned providers. We will also see a full review of the Medicaid redetermination process that will streamline renewals and make sure patients are receiving the highest quality of care possible.

Did You Know?

On August 18, 1971, President Richard Nixon came to Illinois to sign legislation accepting Abraham Lincoln's home in Springfield into the National Park system. After Mary Lincoln's death in the 1880s, the home was donated to the state of Illinois by their only surviving son, Robert, with the condition that it be well maintained, be made a memorial to his father and that it always be free of charge to visit. In 1971 it became the first national park in Illinois.