CommitteeHearing5.19.15.3SPRINGFIELD- In an effort to fight looming power bill increases, Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is calling on state and federal regulators to step in and offer relief for thousands of consumers across Central Illinois.

“We need to fight for Illinois residents to ensure they aren’t being forced to choose between keeping their lights on and putting food on the table,” said Bennett who won Senate approval Saturday for the call to action on behalf of consumers.

SR 623 urges an investigation into the causes of the recent price spikes in Midcontinent Independent System Operator’s capacity auction, which resulted in electricity price increases beginning June 1.  Electricity rates for residential customers in MISO territory (most of central and southern Illinois) will increase by $12-$15 per month.  

“I’m calling on regulatory agencies to stand up and take action against these offensive energy prices to keep our most vulnerable populations safe,” said Bennett.

Businesses will also feel the impact of the rate increase. A small grocery store could see monthly increases of up to $400 on its electricity bills, while larger industrial and commercial customers are facing increases that could total millions of dollars annually.

campuswalkingSPRINGFIELD- One in seven undergraduate women will become a victim of assault or rape, according to a new study released this month by the Journal of Adolescent Health.  

Out of 483 women who participated in the survey, more than 18 percent reported instances of attempted rape. Alarming results reveal most instances occur within their first year of their college experience.   

To combat campus sexual violence, State Senator Scott Bennett passed House Bill 821 to increase protections for Illinois students.

“The college experience should inspire our young people. It’s our duty to put protections in place to ensure students are leaving college feeling empowered and ready to tackle the world,” said Bennett. “This legislation will move us in the right direction to prevent sexual violence.”

HB 821 creates the Preventing Sexual Violence on Campus Act, which provides a roadmap to existing federal requirements and sets standards to prevent and respond to sexual violence.

This legislation requires all higher education institutions to do three things.

First, develop clear and comprehensive campus sexual violence plans to ensure there are guidelines to follow.

Second, notify student survivors about their rights and provide a confidential adviser to help them understand their options.

Lastly, colleges and universities are required to train students and employees and adopt a fair process to address allegations of sexual violence.

“Our number one goal is to end campus assault. However, if an attack occurs, clear and concise guidelines give victims a comprehensive path to report crimes and be notified of their rights,” said Bennett.      

House Bill 821 passed the Senate with unanimous support.

CWS MahometAquifer ISWS1006SPRINGFIELD- Central Illinois residents have moved one step closer in protecting the Mahomet Aquifer. State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) passed House Bill 1326 to protect residents across Central Illinois from contaminated drinking water.
“Our children deserve safe drinking water. These protections will help save Central Illinois’ drinking water for generations to come,” said Bennett. “This proposal will further the mission of the Mahomet Aquifer Protection Alliance by instituting guidelines to protect our underground water source.”

The Aquifer serves as the primary water supply for 14 counties across Central Illinois including Champaign and Vermilion counties.  

The Mahomet Aquifer Protection Alliance is a group of Central Illinois citizens who are committed to keeping the Aquifer free of contamination. Local communities across Central Illinois have banded together to fight disposal of dangerous toxins at the Clinton Landfill, which sits atop the Aquifer.

As a result of their efforts, last year the Mahomet Aquifer was designated as a Sole Source Aquifer, which provides federal protection.  

“Today we move one step closer in achieving our goal. However, we do recognize there may still be more work to do to ensure there is a concrete solution in protecting this valuable resource,” said Bennett.  

HB 1326 passed Senate and House with bipartisan support.

SPRINGFIELD- Soon, operators of farm vehicles will no longer have to apply for commercial driver’s licenses.

State Senator Scott Bennett passed House Bill 2515 to ensure Illinois is compliant with federal regulations that would exempt operators and vehicles such as tractors, trucks or trailers that are registered as farm vehicles with the state from the following:

•    Commercial Driver Licenses
•    Controlled substance/alcohol use and testing
•    Physical qualifications and examinations
•    Driver’s hours of service
•    Inspection, repair and maintenance pertaining to the covered farm vehicle

The legislation also addresses changes to gross combination weight ratings to conform to the federal definition.

“Illinois farmers are the backbone of our economy. It’s our duty to meet the needs of our farmers,” said Bennett. “To advance good agribusiness in Illinois we need to streamline regulations and remain consistent with states across the country.”

In 2012, the US Congress passed “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century,” a major transportation bill that included two substantial regulatory exemptions for agriculture dealing with Hours of Service and covering a broad range of farm exemptions from Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations for vehicles classified as covered farm vehicles (CFV).

In order to comply with the federal law, Illinois needs to pass HB 2515 or risk ineligibility for Motor Carrier Safety Administration Program grants and other federal highway funds.  

HB 2515 passed out of the Senate and House with bipartisan support.


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