January 1st ushers in the New Year and also 237 new state laws in Illinois, State Representative Tom Bennett said today.  Bennett (R-Gibson City) said local families should be aware of the wide-ranging changes.

Among the new laws about to take effect is the Right to Try Act (PA 99-0270) which may provide new hope to some battling a terminal illness. It will allow them, once they have considered all FDA-approved treatment options, to try new drugs or treatments in testing that have not yet been fully approved.

Also effective January 1st is a new law that creates a new state website to assist those wishing to start a new business or relocate their business to Illinois (PA 99-0134), and new guidelines that allow private employers in Illinois to support our veterans by adopting a voluntary veterans preference policy for hiring (PA 99-0152).
 Budget Meeting
The Governor and all four legislative leaders sat down last week for the first time since May to discuss the budget. Following some brief, public comments, they met privately for more than an hour.
They did not emerge from the meeting with a budget agreement, but I don’t think anyone realistically expected that they would.  The fact that they’re finally all talking together, and that they all agreed to continue to meet and talk, is in itself progress.  Like you, I am hoping for productive discussion in the weeks to come.

I am ready and willing to head back to Springfield at any time during the holidays to work on the budget, but I think a January solution is more likely. With this year’s spring session ended, it would now take more than 70 votes in the House to pass any bill that takes effect immediately, as we would want a budget bill to do. It is more likely that the Speaker will wait until January when it will only take a simple majority in the House to pass a bill of his liking.

MFT Funds Progress
II am very happy to report that we did make progress last week on securing the release of motor fuel tax revenues for our local municipalities and townships. This is vitally important for our local communities – its money that local governments need to pay for road projects and for public safety, including 9-1-1 services.

Last month my House Republican colleagues and I secured House passage of House Bill 4305 to release the funds. We were disappointed at that time that the legislation was not advanced as a Senate amendment that could have quickly been implement.  In addition, the legislation itself was delayed by a parliamentary maneuver to prevent it from advancing.

Last week, we were finally able to attach the appropriation language for funding as an amendment to Senate Bill 2039. Yesterday, the Senate passed our amendment and the Governor promptly signed it into law.

This is the way our system was meant to work – progress through cooperation.

Unemployment Insurance Reform Agreement
This past week we made progress on another critical issue as well. Governor Rauner and the General Assembly reached agreement on reforms to Illinois’ unemployment insurance law. 

Once passed and signed, the new law will explicitly protect the interests of employers that terminate an employee for grossly negligent conduct. If terminated for reason of grossly negligent conduct, individuals will not be eligible to receive unemployment insurance payment. 
The law also provides an appeals process to former workers who believe they were improperly treated.

Another critical piece of the law will allow recently laid-off, or separated workers to both collect Social Security and receive a full Illinois UI benefit (if they are eligible for Social Security). Under current Illinois law, Social Security recipients may only receive UI half-benefits.  Moving to full UI benefits will lead to an addition $25 million per year being paid to Illinois senior citizens who have suffered layoffs.

This agreement too is a direct result of bipartisan, bicameral cooperation.

Safe Shopping Guide for 2015 Christmas Season
 Many parents and relatives of young children are concerned when they learn that a product has been recalled for reasons of child safety.  The Illinois Attorney General ‘s Office offers a  Safe Shopping Guide with detailed descriptions of many of the toys, baby products, children’s clothing, bedding, and other products recalled by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.  The Guide also provides helpful information for parents and relatives considering the purchase of many types of well-known electronic goods asked for by children. The guide is available online at http://www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/consumers/2015_Safe_Shopping_Guide.pdf.

Winter Emergency Preparedness Guide
 The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) has also posted their Winter Weather Preparedness Guide to help you get ready for the ice and snow. (http://www.illinois.gov/iema/Preparedness/Documents/winter_storm_preparedness_guidebook.pdf)
IEMA is especially conscious of the need for Illinois homeowners to be prepared for possible ice storms and related power outages.  The Holiday Safety Tips list includes homeowner maintenance of flashlights with fresh batteries in a house and car, a battery-powered radio that can access weather alerts, and other items. 

Wishing you and your family a happy and safe holiday season!

Tom
On Tuesday, November 10, the Illinois House of Representatives convened and debated several matters before the General Assembly. Unfortunately, House Democrats sent a signal they have no intention of compromising and would rather put partisan politics above common sense regarding important issues facing local governments, public safety, child care and long term care for seniors. However, the good news is the Governor and legislative leaders are preparing for a face-to-face budget meeting scheduled to take place on December 1.

Several of the important issues debated at the capitol last week are outlined below, including a report on Illinois’ record soybean harvest. Until then, I wish you, your family, and friends a safe and Happy Thanksgiving.

I will keep you posted,

Tom

Legislation to Send Funds Owed to Local Governments and 911 Blocked by Madigan
115 Representatives including myself voted for HB 4305 to authorize the distribution of motor fuel tax (MFT) receipts to local governments. These funds are vitally important to municipalities and townships for local road projects and public safety. My House Republican colleagues successfully persuaded the Governor to join us in our support for providing this essential funding for MFT, 9-1-1 services and additional public safety funds. The legislation was overwhelmingly approved however, Speaker Madigan used his draconian House Rules to put a hold on forwarding the bill to the Senate, with Majority Leader Currie filing a motion to reconsider the vote. This parliamentary hold means the motor fuel tax funds owed to local governments and 9-1-1 funds will not be distributed until the Speaker removes his blockage and the bill can be passed by the Senate.


Democrat majority continues piecemeal budget strategy

Although Illinois is close to ending its third month without a spending plan for the fiscal year that began on July 1, 2015, recent House sessions, including a one-day session last week, did not show any signs of progress.  On Thursday, Democrats on the House Executive Committee passed a $3.8 billion spending bill again without specifying a funding source for what they want to spend.

Repeated attempts to pass spending bills without the money to pay for them are not serious attempts at working out a budget. The full House did not take up the new spending bill last week and did not discuss an overall spending plan or budget agreement. 

Caterpillar Cuts
Last week regional economic powerhouse Caterpillar announced it will cut 10,000 jobs by 2018. Caterpillar currently employs approximately 21,600 personnel in Illinois, including 3,200 headquarters workers in downtown Peoria, and the company confirmed that a “significant” proportion of the layoffs would affect its Illinois workforce.

As part of the job cuts, Caterpillar’s February 2015 plans to build a new global headquarters complex in Peoria have also  been “put on hold.”  Worldwide salaried and management employees in many locations, including Peoria, will form a significant share of the overall cutbacks.  Many of the layoffs are expected to be implemented during the final months of calendar year 2015. 

Factory workers will also face the possibility of layoffs.  Caterpillar operates eight plants in Illinois, including Decatur, East Peoria, and Pontiac.  The firm announced this week that its overall cutback plan includes a reduction of about 10% in the global square footage it devotes to manufacturing.

Key association of school districts supports Rauner push to eliminate burdensome State mandates

The push to eliminate many of the day-to-day operational mandates upon Illinois local school districts is a major component of Governor Rauner’s “Turnaround Illinois” agenda.  The Large Unit District Association, which represents many of the school districts of Illinois that have the largest pupil enrollments, has swung behind the Governor’s proposal and has joined his call that it be brought before the General Assembly for discussion and debate. 

Mandates seen by local school districts as unduly burdensome include mandatory drivers’ education, including behind-the-wheel training; mandatory daily physical education; and a hard bar on third-party contracting, or outsourcing, for essential operating services such as janitorial work.  The Governor’s platform is pushing to allow local school districts, on a district-by-district basis, to lift the ban on school district third-party essential-operating-service contracts.  Proponents believe that lifting this ban will reduce pressure on school budgets and school-related property taxes. 

Current law allows individual school districts to apply to the General Assembly for waivers from some, but not all, of the school mandates imposed by the State, but the school district must undergo an administratively burdensome process to make the waiver request and get it approved. 

Check Your Vehicle Renewal Date

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White has announced that his office will immediately suspend mailing out vehicle registration renewal reminders to the public due to the lack of a state budget. Those who want to continue receiving a reminder must sign up to receive electronic notices through the Secretary of State’s web site www.cyberdriveillinois.com. A direct link to sign up for email alerts can be found on the home page of that site.

When making the announcement, White noted that suspending this service will save approximately $450,000 per month, and allows his office to prolong the mailing out of vehicle registration renewal stickers, titles and license plates to vehicle owners. According to White, unless a budget is approved, his postage account will be completely depleted in a few months.

I would encourage all residents to be aware of the date for renewal of their vehicle registrations, but to also sign up for the email notifications without delay. While those who receive emailed vehicle registration renewal notices via email will continue to have access to a pin number needed to renew their sticker on-line, those who do not sign up for the electronic alerts will now have to renew their vehicle stickers in person at a Secretary of State office.

Great turnout for senior ID theft prevention seminars

Thank you to those who joined us for our Senior Identity Theft Prevention Seminars last week! We had a great turnout in both Watseka and Pontiac, and we all received great information from the Attorney General’s office on how to help protect your personal information.

I especially would like to thank Watseka Police Chief Roger Lebeck and Pontiac Police Detectives Nicholas Taylor and Michael Henson for joining us to talk about scams that we need to be on the lookout for, and how their departments stand ready to help.

If you missed the events and would like more information, please call my office or you can visit the Attorney General’s website at http://www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/consumers/hotline.html




“This week I voted to not support the override of the Governor’s veto of Senate Bill 1229.

I have studied this matter and have talked with several on the ramifications of this bill.  I support the labor movement’s right to collectively bargain and the right to strike. 

I want nothing more than for an agreement to be reached soon on a contract that is fair to AFSCME members, and that state taxpayers can afford.  The best way to achieve that is through continued negotiation, as was recently achieved with the Teamsters, not premature arbitration. This bill changes the rules in the middle of the process.

I continue to believe that Senate Bill 1229 is detrimental to both sides: it strips the union members of their hard-fought right to strike, and it strips the taxpayers of any representation in a major decision that greatly impacts our state budget. We’re talking about billions of dollars, but with this bill, the final decision is made by an arbitrator that is not accountable to you and me.”
                                                         
                                                                         -State Representative Tom Bennett
The budget stalemate is dragging on in Springfield, but there was a bit of good news this week with passage of a “Federal Funds” budget that will allow for the spending of approximately $5 billion in federal funding to provide some temporary relief for vital program and services.

In addition, local farmers whose crops were devastated by the recent flooding can now apply for assistance, thanks to an Agriculture Disaster Area declaration for local counties.  Details are below.

I’ll keep you posted,

Tom

Democrats bow to pressure on pay increases

For months, my House Republican colleagues and I have been working to stop the automatic pay increase for members of the General Assembly scheduled to go into effect this month. Speaker Madigan, President Cullerton and their members for months blocked all attempts to stop their pay increase, but in the past two weeks both finally bowed to pressure from you, the taxpayers, and finally voted down their raise. 

House Bill 576 freezes cost-of-living adjustments and other benefit compensations for General Assembly members and other high-ranking elected and appointed State officials in FY16. The bill received final General Assembly approval on Wednesday, August 5, and was sent to the Governor who is ready to sign it into law.

Federal funds budget will meet some emergency needs

While the state budget stalemate continues, there may be a bit of good news on the horizon. The Illinois House and Senate have now approved legislation to appropriate the federal funds allocated to Illinois in FY16 for spending and use. These federal funds, which total approximately $5 billion, are separate from the money paid by Illinois taxpayers to the State.

Programs that operate senior centers, Women, Infants and Children supplemental nutrition efforts, adult education programs, and home weatherization assistance offices are among the programs funded by federal grants that are funneled through the State. These programs may be able to maintain some of their operations during the stalemate with the help of this bill.

While the House Democrats initially pushed to derail the measure, they eventually came to their senses and worked with us to provide a bipartisan stopgap relief. The measure now returns to the Senate for concurrence, and could be sent to the Governor as soon as next week.

Lt. Governor surveys flood recovery in Watseka, Governor Rauner declares area Counties Agricultural Disaster Areas

I was very glad to have Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti visit Watseka last week for an update on how our local communities are recovering from recent flooding. Mayor Bob Harwood, his team, IEMA, DNR and others have done a tremendous job for the citizens of Watseka. The Mayor sent me the following message of thanks to pass along to all those who helped:

I would like to thank the employees of the Watseka Police, Fire and Public Works departments for the outstanding job they did during the response phase of the July flooding in Watseka. They all worked long hours for days serving the public during this very trying time. Numerous volunteer organizations and area churches also stepped up to assist the community. County EMA coordinator Eric Ceci was available at all times and the County Board was very supportive. Representative Bennett was a constant during and after the event, either calling or in person and always willing to get involved. All of this support made my job as Mayor somewhat easier during this event.”  - Bob Harwood, Mayor of Watseka

This week Governor Rauner declared all of the counties in the 106th district Agricultural Disaster Areas due to crop losses caused by the rain and flooding. Farmers who believe they may be eligible for assistance should contact their county Farm Service Agency office. Loan applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis. If you have questions you should contact the state FSA office at 217.241.6600. You can read more about it here.

A big week for bill signings

This past week I was honored to have three bills signed into law, bringing the total of new laws I guided through the Illinois House to five. Much of the credit goes to constituents here in the 106th district – four of the five new laws came from ideas brought to me by local constituents!

Public Act 99-0235 is aimed at keeping school students and faculty safe.  It clarifies that school boards may go into executive session to discuss security details if they feel that’s what they need to do to best ensure everyone’s safety. It’s a very unfortunate reality today that schools need to have security measures in place, and specific plans to deal with threats of violence in their buildings.

Public Act 99-0272 allows elderly or disabled victims of financial exploitation or abuse to promptly proceed in court with a civil case, and increases the damage awards they may recover. All too often the most vulnerable in our community are targeted by criminals, but the high burden of proof in criminal cases often discourages prosecution. Expediting the civil process affords another avenue for victims to seek justice and to recover financially.

Public Act 99-0048 ensures that the materials on SIDS prevention new parents receive at the hospital will include information developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics or a statewide or nationally recognized SIDS or medical association. As we continue to learn more about SIDS, prevention information continues to evolve as well. It’s crucial that new parents leave the hospital armed with the best, most reliable information available.

Public Act 99-0123 clarifies that counties and municipalities will be in control of establishing standards for wind farms and electric-generating wind devices within their boundaries.

Public Act 99-0242 permits auxiliary lighting on motorcycles that will make them more visible to motorists on the road to help reduce collisions. The measure was initiated by ABATE in cooperation with their “Start Seeing Motorcycles” safety campaign.

This week Governor Rauner declared all of the counties in the 106th district Agricultural Disaster Areas due to crop losses caused by the rain and flooding.

Farmers who believe they may be eligible for assistance should contact their county Farm Service Agency office. Loan applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis. If you have questions you should contact the state FSA office at 217.241.6600. For more information, click here.

Illinois seniors and the disabled will be better protected from financial abuse under legislation signed
into law Wednesday by Governor Rauner. State Representative Tom Bennett, the measure’s chief House Sponsor, said it allows victims and their families to promptly proceed in court with a civil case, and increases the damage awards they may recover.
 
 “It’s an unfortunate reality that thieves and scam artists often target those that them believe will be most vulnerable – the elderly and the disabled. To make matters worse, criminal prosecution is often difficult because of the very high burden of proof,” Representative Bennett said. “A constituent whose family member was targeted brought to my attention the need to put better protections in place.”
 
The new law, House Bill 1588, allows elderly or disabled victims of financial exploitation or abuse to immediately proceed in court with a civil case, and increases the damage awards they may recover. It is supported by AARP and the Illinois Elder Financial Justice Clinic.
 
 
“These are significant changes that will help those victimized get the justice they deserve, and their finances restored. They also put the thieves on notice – if you try to take advantage of the elderly or disabled, you will pay,” Representative Bennett said.

 
 Local school districts in Illinois will now have the flexibility they need to thoroughly discuss
measures to keep students and staff safe from threats of harm, thanks to a new law spearheaded by State Representative Tom Bennett (R-Gibson City).  House Bill 1498 signed Monday by Governor Rauner ensures school boards can go into closed session to discuss sensitive school security planning information.

“This is about keeping students and staff safe,” Representative Bennett said. “Unfortunately, it has become an absolute necessity for schools to have specific plans in place to deal with violence or threats of violence in their buildings. This new law, suggested by local school boards, makes it clear that school boards may go into executive session to discuss security details if they feel that’s what they need to do to best ensure everyone’s safety.”
Illinois Agriculture Director Nelson was in Watseka this week, joining Rep. Bennett to tour flooded fields and survey damage to farms in Iroquois County. Officials say parts of the county received more than 11 inches of rain in recent days.

Officials estimate 40% of crops in Iroquois County have standing water. Federal agencies, such as the Farm Service Agency and Federal Emergency Management Agency, have been activated to assist local farmers with financial aid and to educate them about other programs for which they may be eligible.

Special thanks to the Lubben Family for hosting this event.
We're back in Springfield again this week, but  I'm afraid there's still no sign of any real progress on negotiating a budget. I'm ready to travel to Springfield as long as it takes, but its a disservice to you and all of our constituents that our time at the Capitol each week is being wasted on Speaker Madigan's seemingly endless political theatre rather than the real work we need to be doing to pass a balanced, full-year budget.

I'll keep you posted.

Tom


Democrats send unbalanced partial-month budget to the Governor

As the State of Illinois entered the third week of the new fiscal year without a balanced budget in place, the Democrat majority continued last week to take a piece-meal approach to the budget crisis.
The Illinois Senate concurred with House changes to Senate Bill 2040 an unbalanced partial month budget, and sent it to the Governor.  The plan is basically a partial-month slice of the plan passed earlier in the spring by Speaker Madigan and Senate President Cullerton that, in total, spends more than $36 billion - $4 billion more than we expect to bring in in revenue.

Meanwhile, the Speaker tried but failed to pass yet another unbalanced temporary budget (House Bill 4142).

Year after year of spending money the state doesn’t have is how we got into this mess in the first place. Living within our means is the only way we’ll get out.

State workers’ paychecks go out as court fight continues

Comptroller Leslie Munger has forged ahead with plans to send out full paychecks to state workers this month despite an ongoing court battle over whether public employees can be paid while state government operates without a budget.

Checks went out to 6,800 employees who were due to be paid Wednesday for work performed in the first two weeks of the state's budget year. Others in Illinois' roughly 60,000-person state government workforce are on different pay schedules, and their checks aren't due until later this month.

Following Comptroller Munger’s decision to issue paychecks to state employees, Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed an emergency motion for direct appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court.

In the House, my Republican colleagues and I have for two weeks pushed for passage of two bills, House Bill 4235 and House Bill 4245, to make state employees’ pay an ongoing appropriation, making sure no one will miss a paycheck. Speaker Madigan continues to refuse to allow either bill to even be debated on the floor.

Governor Rauner surveys Watseka flooding, activates State Emergency Operations Center

Illinois has certainly had its share of rain and severe weather this spring and summer, including recent flooding in Watseka and some communities near Peoria.  Governor Rauner came to Watseka over the weekend to survey the flood damage. Mayor Bob Harwood, his staff, IEMA, DNR, Red Cross, the Trinity Church and a host of volunteers have done a tremendous job in a challenging time!  Senator Barickman and I are continuing to work with local officials on how the state can help.

Meanwhile, with the potential for more severe weather this summer, the Governor has activated the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) in Springfield to ensure state personnel and equipment are ready to be quickly deployed if needed to help local emergency responders with public safety issues. The SEOC will remain activated as long as necessary. For updates on the current situation, visit the Ready Illinois website at http://www.illinois.gov/ready/Pages/default.aspx.

"Happy Hour” is legal again in Illinois

 Governor Rauner has signed Senate Bill 398 into law as P.A. 99-046. The Culinary and Hospitality Modernization Act restores “Happy Hour” in Illinois.
The law allows for discounts for up to 4 hours a day and up to 15 hours a week as long as they are promoted a week in advance. The Happy Hour Law does include some limitations on practices such as serving two or more drinks to one person f, increasing the volume of liquor contained in a drink or the size of a drink without proportionally increasing the price regularly charged for that drink.


Update from the City of Watseka and the Watseka Police and Fire Departments:

Governor Bruce Rauner, IEMA Director James Joseph, State Representative Tom Bennet and State Senator Jason Barickman toured Watseka Saturday. Governor Rauner was given a map showing the neighborhoods impacted by the flood waters. They also toured the some of the impacted areas and visited with residents still located at the Red Cross shelter. The Governor and IEMA will use this visit and other information that will be presented through IEMA to consider any further action that might be taken to provide additional assistance to the residents of Watseka.

FEMA is not in town. If anyone represents themselves as a representative of FEMA, they work for FEMA, or they are a contractor for FEMA do not allow them entry to your residence and call 911 and request the police.

Damage Assessment teams covered most of Watseka Saturday. If a door hanger was left on your door please follow the instructions. It is important that your information be collected. This will assist the State in decisions they must make
.
Information material is available at City Hall, during normal business hours, that will assist you with debris cleanup, how to spot predatory contractors, clean up and mold issues. The City will not recommend any contractors, however, we suggest you use contractors you know. Beware of contractors that just show up at your door. If in doubt please call 911.

There is no longer a curfew in town.

NICOR and Ameren Illinois have policies they must follow when restoring your gas and electric services. The City cannot overrule or change these policies.

For official information concerning this event please refer to www.watsekacity.org, or the Watseka Area Firefighters Association or Watseka Police Department facebook pages.
Watseka flood cleanup: Debris removal protocol via Watseka Police and Fire Departments:

CITY OF WATSEKA DEBRIS REMOVAL PLAN, JULY 2015 FLOOD

CLEAN UP IS FOR NEIGHBOROODS AFFECTED BY FLOODING ONLY. THIS IS NOT A TOWN WIDE PICKUP.  IF YOU DO NOT LIVE IN THE FLOOD AFFECTED AREAS DO NOT SET ANY ITEMS AT CURBSIDE.

DAMAGED GOODS MUST BE PLACED AT CURBSIDE TO BE PICKED UP. ...
The following items ARE NOT considered household goods and WILL NOT be picked up:

Hazardous material paint flammable material electronics
appliances (stoves, refrigerators, etc)
building and construction material
vehicle parts tires batteries concrete rocks.
If any of the above mentioned items are mixed in with other household debris the items WILL NOT be picked up.

Debris pickup is scheduled to begin Tuesday Morning, July 21, 2015. There will be several other agencies assisting with the debris removal.

All areas affected by flooding will be picked up as soon as possible, please be patient we will get to you.

After the initial cleanup is complete then we will come through the neighborhoods one last time to pickup any items missed.

You may begin setting items at curbside starting today, Friday July 17, 2015
Update from Watseka Police and Fire Departments:

CURFEW LIFTED FOR CERTAIN AREAS.
The curfew for areas of Watseka not directly affected by flooding will be lifted at 6 AM Friday July 17, 2015.

Areas still affected by flooding will be kept in the curfew. These areas are:
Oak Street north to Sheridan St and the Union Pacific RR tracks East to 8th Street.
Lafayette St North to Iroquois Street and the West City limits to the Union Pacific RR tracks.
One block either side of West Park Avenue.


Important Message from City Hall:

Until further notice, due to the severe flooding emergency within the City of Watseka, no contractor shall perform any work on any structure within the City of Watseka that was affected by flooding without first registering at City Hall. Each such contractor must be licensed, bonded, and insured to perform the proposed work, and must provide a written estimate for the cost of the work to be performed

FOR THE CITY OF WATSEKA
Robert Harwood, Mayor
The latest flood update from  Watseka Fire and Police Departments:

Sugar Creek has dropped 10 inches from 6pm to 8am
Iroquois River dropped 9 inches from 6pm to 8am

South Second Street is open all the way out of town.
Walnut street is open from Yount St East out of town
The West Junction REMAINS CLOSED

DO NOT GO AROUND BARACADES THESE ARE FOR YOUR SAFETY!!! EVEN IF THE ROAD LOOKS DRY!!! VIOLATERS WILL BE TICKETED!!!!

Watseka Public Works has started to clear debris from the streets where they can.

RECAPPING South Second Street, Route 1 South (from Milford), and Cable Line Road are the only ways in to Watseka at this time.

The Watseka Fire Department is once again handling any assistance calls that we can. Station #1 at 5th st/ Oak st is still staffed and will be for as long as needed.

Curfew is still in effect from 10pm to 6am Daily until July 20.

City Officials will continue developing a Recovery Plan so it will be ready to implement as soon as flood water recede. The City of Watseka will also follow State and Federal Guidelines in an effort to receive additional assistance from the Federal Government. This process does take some time to be completed.

NICOR Gas will require receipts from a licensed service Contractor before gas service will be restored to homes that were turned off.

We stress again that we ask our residents to continue to be patient and stay safe during this flood event.
New parents in Illinois will be ensured to leave the hospital with good, updated information on how
to protect their newborn from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) under a new law spearheaded by State Representative Tom Bennett.

Bennett’s measure, signed into law Thursday as PA 99-0048 ensures that the materials on SIDS prevention new parents receive at the hospital will include information developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics or a statewide or nationally recognized SIDS or medical association.

“Each year we learn more about SIDS, including how best to prevent it. It’s crucial that new parents leave the hospital armed with the most up-to-date and reliable information available on how they can protect their newborns,” Representative Bennett said. “I’m very happy that my first bill signed into law may help save a baby’s life.”

Rep. Bennett talked with WDWS morning hosts Dave and Elizabeth about the state budget stalemate, worker paychecks, local flooding and more. Click here to listen!

Watseka Flooding Update From the American Red Cross-Central Illinois Chapter:

The American Red Cross continues to provide food, shelter and comfort to the flood victims in Watseka.

 The shelter is located in the Trinity Church, 1658 East Walnut Street in Watseka.
Visit www.redcross.org/prepare for flood safety and recovery tips.


From the Watseka Police and Fire Departments:

Sugar Creek dropped 5 inches over night
Iroquois River dropped 3 inches over night

South Second Street from Mulberry Street (Glenn Raymond School) South is open all the way out of town.

RECAPPING South Second Street, Route 1 South (from Milford), and Cable Line Road are the only ways in to Watseka at this time.

The Watseka Fire Department is once again handling any assistance calls that we can. Station #1 at 5th st/ Oak st is still staffed and will be for as long as needed.

Curfew is still in effect from 10pm to 6am Daily until July 20.

Water Levels are still high in town and the public will not be allowed back into flooded areas due to Continued safety concerns.

City Officials will continue developing a Recovery Plan so it will be ready to implement as soon as flood water recede. The City of Watseka will also follow State and Federal Guidelines in an effort to receive additional assistance from the Federal Government. This process does take some time to be completed.

We stress again that we ask our residents to continue to be patient and stay safe during this flood event.
Representative Bennett has been on scene today in Watseka to lend his office's support to the flood relief efforts.

"We have  great cooperation between the different agencies," Representative Bennett said. "Special thanks to Mayor Bob Harwood, Emergency Management's Aaron Ceci, IEMA, Red Cross, members of the Trinity Church for providing shelter, and the many folks working in front of and behind the scenes. Lot of good work in responding to needs in Watseka!"

Here's the latest update from Watseka first responders:

**Statement from the Watseka Fire Department**

Iroquois River From 730 am to 1130 am went down 1/4 inch.

Sugar Creek from 730 am to 1130 am went down 1 1/2 inches.

Cable line Road (2200 East) Is open from the north And Route 1 from the south are the only routes into Watseka.

Ameren Illinois and NICOR Gas will shut off electric and gas supply ONLY UNDER 2 CONDITIONS:
1. If the Customer requests the service to be shut off.
2. If the Service Representative of either utility determines that a safety issue exists due to flood waters.
NEITHER COMPANY IS JUST RANDOMLY SHUTTING OFF ELECTRICITY OR GAS!!!

The Red Cross has a shelter set up at Trinity Church.

City Wide Curfew is in Effect from 10pm to 6am everyday until July 20th.

Watseka Fire Department will be staffed and open 24 hours a day until there is no longer a need. Phone 815-432-3848 for questions or assistance please don't hesitate to call.

We ask that our residents be patient and most of all safe during this flood event.
Updated information from a City of Watseka press release reported in the Times-Republic.

"...As of today the Watseka Fire Department, assisted from other area departments, has evacuated families from 28 homes on the north and west side of Watseka. Forty-seven families have self-evacuated from the same area. Checks for well-being have been provided to five residences. Evacuations have slowed but still continue.

The American Red Cross shelter at Trinity Church is housing more than 50 people as of today.

Ameren Illinois and NICOR Gas will shut off electric or gas supply under two conditions: If the customer requests the service be shut off, or, if the service representative of either utility determines that a safety issue exists due to the flood waters. Neither utility is randomly shutting off electric or gas supply..." Click here to read the full article.
Representative Bennett today toured several sites in the Watseka area experiencing flooding. Mayor Bob Harwood is executing plans to help deal with the rising water. Some major roads are impacted. Approximately 20 homes have been evacuated so far. Local officials are currently working with county and state agencies. Click here for details and stay safe!
As the state budget stalemate continues into mid-July, State Representative Tom Bennett
(R-Gibson City) this week officially gave notice to the State Comptroller that he will refuse his own pay until the budget is resolved.

“Speaker Madigan refuses to budge on his demand that we once again spend billions of dollars more than we will take in in revenue, and he’s willing to sacrifice state employees’ paychecks to achieve his demands. Yesterday he pushed through the House an unbalanced temporary budget that had employee salaries tacked on as a last minute amendment. The catch is that he knows it’s unbalanced and he knows that it will be vetoed; leaving state employees in the lurch once again.  Meanwhile, my House Republican colleagues and I have twice in two weeks introduced simple, clean legislation that does nothing but authorize payment to state employees that the Governor would sign. Speaker Madigan won’t even allow that legislation to be debated on the House floor,” Representative Bennett said.
As Illinois begins a new fiscal year this week with no state budget in place, State Representative Tom
Bennett has signed-on to legislation to ensure thousands of state and university employees will continue to receive their paychecks.

Governor Rauner last week vetoed the Democrats’ unconstitutional budget that was $4 billion out of balance. As Fiscal Year 2016 begins on July 1st the Governor and legislative Democrats remained deadlocked over spending and taxes. Without a budget in place by July 15th, the State will be unable to make payroll for employees in numerous agencies.

However, under a 2014 law passed by the Democrat-controlled General Assembly, lawmakers, legislative staff and judges will still receive their paychecks, with or without a new budget in place. Senate Bill 274 (P.A. 98-682) included a “continuing appropriation” for the salaries and operational expenses of legislators and judges.
The information below was put together by the Department of Central Management Services (CMS) to answer state employees' questions about pay and benefits while no state budget is in place.

FAQs for Budget Situation

We understand state employees have questions on how their benefits will be impacted as the state budget is no longer in place beginning July 1. The following Q&As were designed to help answer any questions you may have.

Employee Benefits

Q.  Will an employee's health, dental or life insurance be affected?
A.  No. Group insurance coverage during a budget situation will not be impacted. If paychecks are delayed, and as long as the employee continues to work and earn a paycheck, insurance premiums will be taken accordingly. The missed payroll deductions will be taken once paychecks are issued.

Q.  What will happen to an employee's contributions to any flexible spending accounts (i.e., MCAP, DCAP) during the budget situation?
A.
 Employees enrolled in MCAP will not be impacted. ConnectYourCare debit cards will continue to work. If the employee continues to work and earn a paycheck, deductions should be taken accordingly. If MCAP deductions are missed, they must be made up when the budget situation is resolved.
 Employees enrolled in DCAP may be impacted as reimbursements are limited to the available account balance contained in their DCAP account. If the employee continues to work and earn a paycheck, and once all payroll deductions are deposited into the DCAP account, reimbursements can be made for eligible expenses up to the available account balance.

Q.  What will happen to an employee's Commuter Savings Program benefit?
A.  Employees enrolled in the Commuter Savings Program will continue to receive the benefit under this program. Employees will owe any underpaid amount upon their return to payroll.

Workers' Compensation Program

Q.  Will an employee's Workers' Compensation benefits be affected?
A.  No. In the event of a budget situation, Temporary Total Disability (TTD), Permanent Total Disability (PTD) and survivor death benefit payments under the Workers' Compensation Act will continue through July. Work-related injuries should continue to be reported through the procedures in place today.

Deferred Compensation Program

Q. What will happen to an employee's Deferred Compensation contributions during the budget situation?
A.  As long as the employee continues to work and earn a paycheck, payroll deductions for Deferred Compensation should be taken accordingly. Deferred Compensation contributions can only be made through payroll deduction. The employee cannot deposit money directly to his or her fund to catch-up the contributions.

Q.  If an individual is currently receiving a distribution from their Deferred Compensation account, will that distribution continue during the budget situation?
A.  Yes. Current distributions and changes to distribution amounts will continue to be processed. To make any changes in distribution, call T. Rowe Price at 1-888-457-5770.

Q.  Will hardship distributions/loans from an employee's Deferred Compensation account be available during the budget situation?
A.  A loan provision is available at any time and allows a participant to have one outstanding loan and borrow a minimum of $1,000 up to a maximum of $50,000 or 50% of their account balance over a five year period. The interest you pay goes back to your account along with the principal amount each month as you repay the loan through Automatic Clearing House (ACH) deductions from your bank. Employees would likely not qualify for a hardship distribution as they will be made whole of any missed payrolls when the budget situation ends.

Q.  How do I borrow from my Deferred Compensation account?
A.  To apply for a loan from your account over the phone, call T. Rowe Price at 1-888-457-5770 to speak to a Representative. There is a $75 processing fee and you will need to supply bank routing and account information for your checking/savings account numbers to set up the automatic ACH deduction. Participants are allowed one outstanding loan at a time. You may repay the full loan balance amount at any time through the same phone number at T. Rowe Price.

State Employee Compensation

Q. What options exist if certain parties take action to temporarily block pay for state employees?
A. State employees will be paid for their work. If certain parties take action to temporarily block pay for state employees, there may be an opportunity for employees to get bridge loans from local financial institutions. Credit Union 1, for example, has already agreed to offer no-interest loans for qualifying members of the credit union should salary payments for state employees be delayed. To be eligible to receive 0% interest loans from Credit Union 1, participants must have been members on or before May 1, 2015. Employees who have become members of Credit Union 1 since May 1, 2015, can apply for a loan, subject to normal criteria, rates and terms.

Governor Rauner signs education budget bill, vetoes the rest of the unbalanced budget

Governor Rauner this past week signed the elementary and secondary education component of the Fiscal Year 2016 State budget, taking our children’s education out of the crossfire in Springfield.  While House Bill 3763 does not increase education spending by as much as the governor’s proposal, it does increase K-12 education funding by $244 million and early childhood education funding by $25 million. I am glad that education won’t be caught up in the Springfield stalemate and that our school children will not be held hostage over this budget battle.  Schools will open on time, teachers will be paid and education will get a needed boost in funding.  

After signing the education funding bill, the Governor promptly vetoed the bulk of the unbalanced budget (19 additional budget bills) that the Democratic-controlled General Assembly sent him, increasing the likelihood that some state services could be disrupted when the fiscal year begins on July 1st. As I’ve written before, the budget speaker Madigan passed, as a whole, spends $4 billion more than the state is expected to take in in revenue, which is how we got into this mess in the first place. We can’t continue to spend money we don’t have.

Governor Rauner continues to insist on "structural" changes to the business and political climates in Illinois before dealing with the opposing party on spending.

Speaker Madigan and many in his caucus want another tax increase.  Just a few years ago they passed the largest tax increase in Illinois history which brought in $26 billion in additional revenue at the expense of working families. They said the income tax increase would solve our budget problems. What happened? Jobs and families left Illinois. Unemployment is up, we still have a $5 billion backlog of unpaid bills and the worst funded pension systems in the nation. The tax increase cost working families $26 billion and left our economy and our budget in worse shape than before it was passed. It makes no sense to repeat that mistake. Reforms must come first.

Representative Bennett toured the tornado and wind destruction in Coal City, and helped out at the Call Center.

"Many houses are damaged. Lots of good people are working long hours to put help things back together; getting power back on, protecting the community, providing food, starting to rebuild. The town is pulling together. Thank you to the village of Diamond for helping and jumping right in to support" Representative Bennett said.
House meets, but does not discuss budget crisis…Senate sends Governor unconstitutional spending bills

With the clock ticking down to the June 30th deadline to have a new budget in place for our new fiscal year which begins on July 1st, Speaker Madigan is continuing to call the House into session each week…but not to discuss the budget.

The Illinois House held a one-day session in Springfield last Tuesday, but the impending budget crisis wasn’t even brought up.  Instead, the Speaker devoted the day to hearing testimony on the proposed reorganization of the powers and responsibilities of the State’s Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO).  Yes, DCEO is an important agency. It’s responsible for job creation and retention in a variety of industries throughout Illinois. But without a new budget in place, state aid for schools, funding for services and paychecks for state workers will come to a halt next month.

Meanwhile, in the Senate, President Cullerton last week removed the temporary hold he had placed on the unconstitutional, unbalanced spending plan he and the Speaker had pushed through the General Assembly last month and began sending the bills to the Governor. The plan spends $4 billion more than we will take in in revenue next year. Spending money we don’t have is how we got into this mess in the first place.

Inaction is unacceptable. Sending the Governor a sham budget is also unacceptable. Right now, we need to be devoting our full attention to getting a reasonable balanced budget in place, and adopting fiscal reforms to help us stay on a fiscally-responsible path.
   
Honor Flight from Springfield to Washington D. C. and back home to Springfield!

Rep. Bennett helped welcome home WWII and Korean War Veterans Bob Mathias of Rankin and Roy Elliott of Paxton. Thank you for your service!
Several initiatives spearheaded by State Representative Tom Bennett this spring are poised to become law. Bennett (R-Gibson City) said today that measures awaiting the Governor’s signature include local initiatives to help keep school students and staff safe from violence and to protect seniors from financial exploitation.


Representative Bennett shares his concerns about the pressing need for reforms in Illinois that will yield positive results for our budget, our families and our communities. Listen to his comments here.




State Representative Tom Bennett (R-Gibson City) today resoundingly rejected a series of sham budget bills pushed through the Illinois House by Speaker Madigan and the Majority Democrats. Bennett said the Democrats’ proposed budget, crafted behind closed doors, spends $4 billion more than the state will bring in in revenue in Fiscal Year 2016, violating both the Illinois Constitution, and the trust of Illinois families.

“We’re anticipating to bring in $32 billion in revenue next year, but the Democrats’ budget spends more than $36 billion. Not only is that unconstitutional, it’s how they got our state into this mess in the first place,” said Representative Bennett. “We still have several days left in our scheduled spring legislative session. It’s not too late for the Democrats to come back to the table and work with us and with the new Governor on a plan for an honest, balanced budget.”

Weigh in on key issues in Springfield today, click below
 and voice your opinion!!!


"Memorial Day took on an even more special meaning this week for families in our district.  Finally, Marine Private Jack Redman, who lost his life in battle on the island of Tarawa Atoll in the Central Pacific Ocean on November 23rd, 1943, is home in Watseka.  After a 70 effort to bring Jack home, he was finally laid to rest this month in his hometown with full military honors," said Representative Bennett.

"This week, the Illinois House adopted a resolution  I filed honoring Private Jack Redman and his family. Jack’s heroism and his family’s determination are truly inspiring. You can read the resolution here."
State Representative Tom Bennett (R-Gibson City) joined other House Republican freshman
legislators today in backing measures to allow voters impose term limits on the General Assembly. Citing the state’s lingering fiscal crisis, high tax burden, and the sharply partisan, autocratic rule of Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), who has served as Speaker for 30 of the past 32 years, Republicans stressed that term limits are needed to restore accountability to voters.

“We’re in the mess we’re in because a handful of elected officials have put preserving their own power and control above the needs of Illinois families. Speaker Madigan has been in complete control of everything that will be considered - or not considered - in the Illinois House for approximately 30 years. He and Senate President Cullerton have been in the General Assembly for more than 80 years combined, and the impact on our state and our economy speaks for itself,” Representative Bennett said.
State Representative Tom Bennett is taking his office on the road this spring to meet with local residents throughout the 106th district. On Thursday, May 21st, the Livingston County communities of Dwight, Odell and Chatsworth will host Representative Bennett’s traveling office hours at their local public libraries.

“In a district as large and diverse as ours, traveling office hours helps me to keep in touch with constituents from each of the communities, and helps residents who may find it difficult or inconvenient to travel to my district offices,” Representative Bennett said. “I hope everyone in Dwight, Odell and Chatsworth who would like to speak with me or my staff about a problem or idea, or just wants to say hello, will stop by their local library on the 21st.”
Rep. Bennett passed a resolution in the House this week celebrating the life of Clayton Hale, an exceptional young man from the Paxton community who at the young age of 26 recently passed away from cancer of the brain.  Clayton's parents were present in the House gallery for the presentation.

"Although he had suffered much in a variety of ways, he was inspirational, demonstrated an amazing courage and a tremendous attitude upbeat.  Clayton never knew a stranger, always had a smile for others, never complained, never got down.  He was just very likeable in so many ways.  He often liked to go a local bridge in Paxton IL and there watch the trains go by.  The residents of Paxton plan to name the bridge after him.  He touched many lives in his community in a very positive way and left a wonderful legacy to his family and his community," Representative Bennett said.
We're coming down to the wire in Springfield - just a little more than two weeks left in our scheduled spring session and we have a lot of work yet to do on the FY 2016 state budget and other critical issues. Events are unfolding quickly, but I will keep you updated on the latest happenings.

Tom

Illinois Supreme Court Strikes Down Pension Reform
The Illinois Supreme Court announced on Friday that SB 1- the Pension Reform Bill passed in December 2013 -  was found Unconstitutional and struck down.

In issuing the ruling, Justices stated the following, “The financial challenges facing state and local governments in Illinois are well known and significant. In ruling as we have today, we do not mean to minimize the gravity of the State’s problems or the magnitude of the difficulty facing our elected representatives. It is our obligation, however, just as it is theirs, to ensure that the law is followed. That is true at all times. It is especially important in times of crisis when, as this case demonstrates, even clear principles and long-standing precedent are threatened. Crisis is not an excuse to abandon the rule of law. It is a summons to defend it. How we respond is the measure of our commitment to the principles of justice we are sworn to uphold.”

 Whether you agree or disagree with the ruling, at least now the Court has spoken, and we can get back to working to rectify our State’s financial situation within the confines of our State Constitution

"We had a Great event Saturday at our Recycling Fair with Senator Barickman in Watseka. It was a wonderful turnout! I was amazed at the number of old TVs, computers, vacuum cleaners, and printers. Thank you to Big R and Best Buy for their support." Rep. Bennett said
State Representative Tom Bennett today said Governor Rauner’s restoring $26 million in grants for human services and public health programs is a step in the right direction. The Governor’s decision to lift the suspensions and restore funding is based on new revenue estimates from the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA).

“The latest GOGFA estimates indicate the state will take in $300-500 million more than originally anticipated by the end of the fiscal year. That’s great news, as is the Governor’s announcement that he will now be able to restore funding for programs he had had to cut a few weeks ago,” Representative Bennett said.

In all, more than $21 million in grants will be restored to programs administered by the Department of Human Services including funeral and burial for the indigent, autism and epilepsy services, and addiction prevention. $4.5 million will be restored to programs administered by the Department of Public Health including the Illinois Tobacco Quitline and project Safe Sleep (SIDS).

Last Friday was “3rd Reading Deadline” in the House and Senate - the deadline for the House to pass bills over to the Senate, and for the Senate to pass bills over to the House.  From here on until the end of the 2015 spring session, the House will be dealing with Senate bills, and vice versa.  In addition, budget talks are heating up and my office has scheduled Town Hall Meetings and Traveling Office Hours throughout the district in the coming weeks to help make sure our district's priorities and opinions are heard loud and clear. Please check out the schedule below and join us!

Tom


Productive Deadline Week
In all, the Senate advanced 251 bills to the House, and the House sent 331 measures to the Senate before last Friday's deadline. I passed two additional bills through the House last week. House Bill 1588 was an idea initiated in our district. It will help protect seniors and the disabled from both physical and financial abuse. It’s reprehensible that the most vulnerable in our community are often targeted for abuse and fraud. To add insult to injury, the high burden of proof in criminal cases often discourages prosecution, and leaves victims and their loved ones without a good way to seek justice and to recover financially. My legislation allows senior or disabled victims of physical or financial abuse to take their case directly to civil court, and increases the financial damages they can recover. House Bill 3944 also won unanimous House approval. It will allow accent lighting on motorcycles in Illinois that will help improve visibility and safety.

As the end of session gets closer, bill actions may move faster and break quicker than they did earlier in session.  Check out The Caucus Blog  for frequent updates on Illinois House legislative action.
"This is a different world. Highly professional group of administrators and employees. It is an important asset to our district and state! Greatly appreciate the Warden leading us through the facility," Rep. Bennett said.

Illinois seniors and the disabled would be better protected from both physical and financial abuse under legislation guided through the Illinois House Friday by State Representative Tom Bennett (R-Gibson City). The Illinois House unanimously passed Bennett’s House Bill 1588 that allows victims and their families or guardians to promptly proceed in court with a civil case, and increases the damage awards they may recover.

“It’s reprehensible that the most vulnerable in our community are often targeted for abuse and fraud, To add insult to injury,  the high burden of proof in criminal cases often discourages prosecution, and leaves victims and their loved ones without a good way to seek justice and to recover financially,” Representative Bennett said. “The legislation we advanced today allows senior or disabled victims of physical or financial abuse to take their case directly to civil court.”
We’re in the final six weeks of our scheduled spring legislative session and we have a lot of work left to do. In the coming weeks decisions will be made that impact our schools, our tax bills, and state services available to our families. I will be keeping you updated weekly. I have also scheduled a series of Town Hall Meetings throughout the district to make sure our voices are heard as the debates move forward in Springfield. The schedule is below, and I hope to see you there!

Tom

Bills are Moving
The two weeks in mid to late April are the weeks set aside for floor action and final passage of House bills out of the House of Representatives.  That means for the next few weeks we’re spending less time in committees and more time working on the House floor.

For me and other House members serving their first full terms, this is a time of intense participation in the lawmaking process as final questions are asked and answered, a bill is debated on the floor, and the final roll call taken that decides whether the bill will survive and be sent to the state Senate for further action.   I was fortunate to get a bit of an early start on the final passage process, as I was able to pass two bills out of the House before our two week Easter recess; House Bill 1498 that permits closed session meetings for school boards to discuss security concerns and plans, and House Bill 1407 which ensures new parents leave the hospital with proper information about preventing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

In all, 444 bills had been advanced from House committees and placed on the chamber’s calendar for possible final action.  You can watch the action live without having to travel to Springfield!  The Illinois House streams live audio and video feeds of floor action to the general public at http://www.ilga.gov/house/audvidInternal.asp .
State Representative Tom Bennett is taking his office on the road to meet with local residents in communities throughout the 106th district. On Thursday, May 7th, El Paso and Minonk will host Representative Bennett’s traveling office hours at their local public libraries.

“In a district as large and diverse as ours, traveling office hours helps me to keep in touch with
constituents from each of the communities, and helps residents who may find it difficult or inconvenient to travel to my district offices,” Representative Bennett said. “I hope everyone in El Paso and Minonk who would like to speak with me or my staff about a problem or idea, or just wants to say hello, will stop by their local library on the 7th.”

Representative Bennett (legislative session schedule permitting) or a member of his staff will be available from 9:00am to 10:00am on Thursday May 7th at the El Paso Public Library, 149 West First Street in El Paso; and from 10:30am to 11:30am at the Filger Public Library, 261 East Fifth Street in Minonk. 

No appointments are necessary and walk-ins are welcome.

Constituents can always reach Representative Bennett’s district offices by calling 815.432.0106 (Watseka) or 815.844.9179 (Pontiac). You can also contact Rep. Bennett via webform and sign up for e-news updates at http://www.repbennett.com/.


On the morning of April 15, 1865 President Abraham Lincoln died from a gunshot wound he
sustained the night before at the hands of assassin John Wilkes Booth.

Today, Rep. Bennett remembered the former Illinois Representative, and one of our greatest Presidents, at Lincoln's statue at the Illinois Capitol in Springfield.
The following items WILL BE ACCEPTED for electronics recycling:

* All computer related equipment
* Typewriters, fax machines, printers
* Scanners, copiers, overhead projectors
* Blenders, can openers, food processors
* Sewing machines, irons, toasters
* Power hand tools, stationary power tools
* Coffee makers, grinders, heaters
* Vacuums (emptied of debris)
* Dehumidifiers
* Electric weed whips, mowers, hedge clippers
* Electric leaf blowers, lawn edgers
* Cameras, DVRs, tape recorders
* Televisions
* Alarm panels, alarm sensors
* 2-way radios, telephones, cell phones,
* Cables, satellite dishes, pagers
* PDAs, transmitters, receivers
* Answering machines, GPS
* Surge protectors, VCRs, radios
* CD & DVD players, camcorders
* Stereo equipment, Ipods, MP3 players
* Remote controls, hair dryers
* Electronic toys and games
* Tape players, keyboard, amplifiers
* Mixing boards

The following items WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED for electronics recycling:
* Refrigerators, stoves, air conditioners
* Hazardous waste
* Car and acid filled batteries
* Washing machines, dryers
* Household batteries
 


State Representative Tom Bennett is inviting area residents to discuss important state and local issues at Legislative Town Hall meetings he is hosting throughout the 106th District in the coming weeks.

“We’re in the final six weeks of our scheduled spring legislation, and we have a lot of work left to do,” Representative Bennett stressed. “In the coming weeks decisions will be made that impact our schools, our tax bills, and state services available to our families. I’ve scheduled Town Hall meetings in each county in the district to make sure comments and concerns from all corners are heard, and that we’re all involved in the important discussions going on at the Capitol.”

 
Woodford County Town Hall meeting (with Senator Jason Barickman):

Monday, April 13, 5:00pm to 7:00pm
Apostolic Christian Home, 610 West Cruger Avenue, Eureka

 
Livingston County Town Hall meeting:

Monday, April 27, 5:00pm to 6:30pm
Livingston County Courthouse, 112 West Madison Street, Pontiac

 
Ford County Town Hall meeting:

Thursday, April 30, 5:00pm to 6:30pm
Ford County Courthouse, 201 West State Street, Paxton

 
Vermilion County Town Hall meeting:

Monday, May 4, 5:00pm to 6:30pm
Hoopeston City Hall, 301 West Main Street, Hoopeston


“I’m looking forward to seeing local residents turn out at each meeting to make their voices heard,” Representative Bennett said.

Constituents can always reach Representative Bennett’s district offices by calling 815.432.0106 (Watseka) or 815.844.9179 (Pontiac) or via webform at http://www.repbennett.com/.
Rep. Bennett greeted Governor Rauner on the House Floor Thursday. Thursday evening, the governor signed into law the emergency FY15 budget provisions passed by the House earlier in the week.

Statement of State Rep. Tom Bennett on House Bills 317 and 318, the emergency FY 15 budget measures advanced today by the Illinois House:

“It’s very unfortunate that former Governor Quinn advanced and signed a budget that he knew was more than $1 billion out of balance to avoid making difficult decisions before the election, but that’s the situation we have to deal with,” said Representative Tom Bennett (R-Gibson City).  “The ‘fix’ advanced by the House today isn’t perfect, but it’s necessary. It provides Governor Rauner the flexibility he needs to fund crucial services such as child care and court reporters through the end of the fiscal year in June.”

To ensure local families, groups and organizations are involved in the legislative decision making process, State Representative Tom Bennett (R-Gibson City) is forming local Advisory Committees. The new 106th District Agricultural Advisory Committee has held its first meeting, and set priorities, Rep. Bennett said.

“As bills and budgets are being discussed this spring we need to make sure local families and groups are included in the conversation. That’s what my new advisory groups are all about,” Bennett said. “My focus on agriculture goes back to my roots growing up on a farm in Gibson City. Farming practices should be profitable and safe for the environment.  Farmers need to be able to provide a safe food supply for both current and future needs.”