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Update from the Capitol 9/25/2020

Friday, September 25, 2020 - Posted 11:11:30 AM by Rep. Tom Bennett

Tom Bennett

Child Passenger Safety Week

Car_seat_safety.pngThis week is Child Passenger Safety Week and the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) is taking the time to remind parents and caregivers about the state's requirements for child safety seats. Under state law a child must ride in a child safety seat until the age of 8, and must be in a rear-facing seat until they reach the age of 2. IDOT says that these car seats or booster seats are the best method of protecting a child from being killed or seriously injured in an accident.

Nationwide more than 3300 children were killed while riding in motor vehicles between 2014 and 2018, and motor vehicle crashes are one of the leading causes of death for kids under 12, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

To learn more about the Child Passenger Safety Program here in Illinois, please visit

New grant available for Illinois child care providers

An additional $114 million in grants will be available for child care providers across the state through the Business Interruption Grants (BIG) program, the second round of funding dedicated to supporting child-care centers and homes. Grantees eligible for funding include childcare centers and family childcare homes that are licensed by the Department of Children and Family Services and are currently open and serving children in their communities. The Department of Human Services is partnering with the Illinois Network of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies to distribute the grants.

The grants are to help child care providers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic ensure working parents have quality child care options. Applications will be available online in the coming weeks at financial-opportunities/ restoration-grants.

Illinois unemployment declines to 11%

The August unemployment report for Illinois showed a decline in the state's unemployment rate from 11.5% in July to 11% in August as the state continues its slow rebound from the pandemic and the shutdowns. Illinois added 66,000 non-farm payroll jobs, though for the most part these were not new jobs but jobs which have come back following the shutdown.

Illinois stands 2.6% higher than the national unemployment rate, which has fallen to 8.4%. In total there are still 695,000 unemployed Illinoisans, which is nearly triple the number who were out of work one year ago. Not surprisingly, the hardest hit sectors of our economy continue to be leisure and hospitality. This segment, which includes businesses like restaurants and hotels, has lost 143,700 jobs.

Talking with Woodford County students

Woodford_students.jpgThank you Rich Wherley for the opportunity to meet an amazing group of seniors and juniors this week from Eureka, El Paso and Roanoke-Benson school districts. We talked about a number of issues concerning government, business, COVID-19 and masks, and life in general. There were some thoughtful insightful comments and great questions! I am grateful that these young men and women are some of our future leaders.

New shop open in Watseka

Watseka_Business.jpgAngel Crawford from my Watseka district office attended the ribbon-cutting and grand opening of Nichols Paint & Fab in Watseka this week. Justin Nichols and the team there just opened their new shop on Walnut Street. You might have recognized the name, as they are the cast of Wrench'd on Velocity Channel, which features their work on custom hot rods. They are currently in discussions for a third season of their show. Congratulations to all!

How much do we owe?

As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $7,048,641,610 in unpaid bills to state vendors. One year ago, the backlog stood at $6.5 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

Illinois last Midwest state holding out on fall sports as Minnesota allows football, volleyball

State regulated utility moratorium extended through winter 2021 for eligible customers

Illinois EPA warns about possible blue-green algae on lakes, rivers streams and ponds

State Police advising the public about another phone scam

Illinois residents can now apply for up to $400 from massive Facebook privacy settlement

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).