Be Counted FB 1CHAMPAIGN – State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) encouraged Champaign County residents to fill out the 2020 Census, protecting their representation in government and share of federal funding.
 
“The census is currently underway and is easy to complete with the new online questionnaire option. For a family of four, I was able to fill it out in a matter of minutes using a smartphone,” Bennett said. “Responding to the census is critically important because it determines funding for things like roads, hospitals, fire departments, and schools in Champaign County.”
 
In 2010, Champaign County had a final response rate of 70.4%. So far this year, Champaign’s response rate is down, currently only at 60.7%. More than half of the county’s residents’ responses have been submitted online.
 
“The census can be completed from the comfort of your own home and you can make your voice heard by participating,” Bennett said. “Now more than ever, it is vital that we ensure everyone is counted.”
 
Although online is the quickest way to fill out the questionnaire, there are three ways you can respond: online, by phone or by mail. Bennett also pointed out that higher self-response rates mean fewer individuals are likely to receive visits from census surveyors to be counted in-person. This year, census surveyors are putting the health of themselves and their families at risk from COVID-19.
 
If you haven’t filled out your census questionnaire yet, you can visit 2020census.gov, where you can find the online questionnaire and additional information about the census. To see local responses rates across Illinois and the entire nation, visit www.censushardtocountmaps2020.us.

04052018CM0141CHAMPAIGN – State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is encouraging residents to participate in the Citizens Utility Board’s (CUB) ongoing Virtual Utility Bill Clinic to potentially save homeowners money during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Home energy bills are on the rise while more people work remotely and children have switched to e-learning during the Stay at Home Order,” Bennett said. “Families and individuals that are facing financial hardship during this crisis should tune into CUB’s clinics to learn how to reduce their utility bills.”

To participate, residents should send a copy of their most recent electric, natural gas and telecom bills to CUB at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with the subject line “Attn: Virtual Utility Bill Clinic.” Participants can remove personal information, but their documents should include the account holder’s name.

A CUB specialist will evaluate the bill to determine if you are signed up with an alternative supplier or if you are paying for unnecessary products or services. CUB will also let you know if you are eligible for money-saving programs, like financial assistance, and share information about energy-efficiency programs.

Bennett encourages residents to take advantage of CUB’s free utility bill clinics so residents can ensure they can keep their utility usage and costs in check. For more information on the program, please visit www.citizensutilityboard.org.

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CHAMPAIGN – State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is calling on Gov. JB Pritzker to set new provisions of the Stay at Home Order to help local businesses reopen their doors.

Under the extension of the governor’s Stay at Home Order, which took effect May 1 with modifications, restrictions for essential and non-essential businesses were loosened, yet small businesses that weren’t deemed “essential” by the governor’s administration remain closed.

“If major retailers and grocery stores are deemed essential and left to follow the governor’s guidelines on their own, small businesses should have the same opportunity,” Bennett said. “While it's important that we follow health experts' recommendations and practice social distancing, small business owners are suffering and we need to provide stability and certainty for the weeks ahead.”

Bennett was joined by other downstate members in sending a formal letter to the governor’s office advocating for local municipalities and health departments to have a more active voice in this process.

Their proposal included modifications to the existing statewide order including, working with local officials; a business must demonstrate its ability to enforce the face covering requirement for all employees and customers; adhere to the 6-foot social distancing guidelines per patron based on the square footage of the storefront or building; and ensure a thorough cleaning regimen with approved sanitizers and disinfectants.

“We need to incorporate our public health officers and local officials input on the statewide decisions being made,” Bennett said. “I am confident that we will be able to get our communities on the way to economic recovery under this new approach.”

C1629551 2772 42B6 A3CA 5E7862074EBECHAMPAIGN – State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) urges Gov. JB Pritzker to rethink his decision to keep the Middle Fork State Fish and Wildlife Area closed for the remainder of the Stay at Home Order.

Bennett raised concerns in a letter to the governor after reviewing the list of parks set to reopen and learning the Middle Fork State Fish and Wildlife Area wasn’t set to reopen.

“With appropriate social distancing and other commonsense measures kept in place, it makes no sense to keep the Middle Fork State Fish and Wildlife Area closed,” Bennett said. “I urge the governor to rethink his decision and allow our communities to access this state park.”

At an April 23 press briefing, the governor announced a modified extension to the Stay at Home Order, including a phased reopening of state parks under guidance from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Bennett was joined by other downstate members in sending a formal letter to the governor’s office emphasizing that many residents are feeling disconnected during the pandemic and rely on outdoor spaces to keep calm.

He believes that recreation is at risk for all Illinoisans, but particularly those who live downstate.

“Getting out to enjoy the outdoors is essential for people’s mental health and wellbeing during this pandemic,” Bennett said. “It’s important that we create a safe path for people to do things in rural areas so they can cooperate with the governor’s order.”

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