BennettComfortCanineSPRINGFIELD- A new law authorizing the use of dogs in courtrooms was signed into law today.  

State Senator Scott Bennett’s (D-Champaign) initiative will allow courts to authorize the use of “comfort canines” when children or others with a severe developmental or intellectual disability have to testify in court on sexual assault cases.  

“As a former prosecutor, I have seen first-hand the emotional trauma children face during trial. The entire ordeal of testifying and reliving a horrible experience is paralyzing for them,” said Bennett.  

Bennett hopes to alleviate some of the stress and anxiety by providing some relief to children through the use of therapy dogs.

“This is one small step we can take to make this difficult experience a little easier,” said Bennett. “The use of dogs in the courtroom can help promote a major reform in the way we meet the emotional needs of those involved in the criminal justice system.”

Authorized dogs would be required to go through training and be evaluated and registered as a member of Assistance Dogs International.

Senate Bill 1389 will take effect on January 1, 2016

071515CM1321SPRINGFIELD- Under new legislation, hospitals will soon send new parents home with a trusted tool to combat Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Sponsor State Senator Scott Bennett’s (D-Champaign) legislation was signed into law today to ensure that materials on SIDS prevention provided to parents include information from the American Academy of Pediatrics or a statewide or nationally-recognized SIDS or medical association.

“As a new parent, there is a lot of excitement as well as pressure to provide the best care for your children. This new law will help ease some of the burden by providing new parents with vital and reliable information on how they can help to protect their children from SIDS,” Bennett said.

071515CM1284SIDS is a sudden and silent medical disorder that can happen to an infant who appears healthy. It is the leading cause of death among babies between 1 month and 1 year of age. In 2011, about one out of 2,300 infants born in the nation died of SIDS before their first birthdays.

The cause of SIDS is unknown, however educational campaigns helped raise awareness to reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death.

For more information on the “Safe Sleep” campaign, please visit  

House Bill 1407, known as “Cody’s Law” was signed into law on Wednesday, July 15, 2015 and goes into effect immediately.

071315 rt 0085CHAMPAIGN- Local in-home childcare provider, Holli Finley Gomes serves as a second mother for ten children in the Champaign-Urbana area.  She takes care of the children as if they were one of her own.

As the budget impasse continues, child care providers have been left to wonder whether the state aid that they rely on to operate will be available when they need it. Governor Rauner has repeatedly targeted the Child Care Assistance Program for cuts under his budget proposals, and with the absence of a budget the funding for the program is still uncertain.

State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) visited Finley Gomes, a child care provider for 15 years, to see what is at risk for her. Finley Gomes lives in Champaign and operates an at home child care center that provides children with educational games and quarterly field trips.  

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Finley Gomes doesn’t know what working parents would do without child care services. She fears some parents would be forced to leave kids at home with an older sibling where they face safety issues and lose out on important educational opportunities. 

“The child care assistance program gives people an opportunity to get back on their feet by providing people with child care whether they go back to school or are working,” said Bennett. “This vital and affordable program allows people to work while keeping their children safe.

CommitteepicturersSPRINGFIELD- In light of the budget impasse, State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) has filed paperwork to forego his pay until there is a budget in place to protect essential programs in Illinois.  

People who work or receive services from important programs such as child care assistance programs, in-home health care for seniors and people with disabilities and services for veterans’ are faced with few choices without a state budget in place.   

“I stand up in solidarity with the hard working men and women in our community who provide essential services to our most vulnerable populations. It is unjust for elected officials to continue to take home their pay while in-home child care providers struggle to keep their doors open and seniors are forced to choose between picking up their prescriptions or keeping their lights on at night. These are real people with real responsibilities forced to make difficult decisions,” said Bennett.

Bennett noted that the Senate passed a budget on time prior to the May 31 deadline however, that budget was vetoed by Governor Rauner.

In an effort to prevent a state government shutdown and maintain services, the Senate passed a one-month budget this month to allow more time for negotiation between the Senate, House and Gov. Rauner. The governor has already publically announced his plan to veto a temporary budget plan.

“I support a balanced budget and understand cuts need to be made, but I cannot support balancing the budget on the backs of our most vulnerable populations- our seniors, veterans, children and the disabled,” said Bennett. “My hope is the governor will come to the table and be part of the solution. We cannot afford for him to use our budget to gain political points by forcing working families into dire situations.”

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