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SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Scott Bennett passed legislation through the Senate this week to bolster privacy rights for crime victims in Illinois.

“Victims of crime and their families deserve the right to participate and be heard in the criminal justice system through the use of these powerful impact statements, but they also deserve to be treated with dignity, respect and sensitivity as they seek justice,” Bennett (D-Champaign) said. “The first and most important step in achieving this is by protecting their privacy.”

House Bill 3584 would provide a crime victim the right to register with the Prisoner Review Board’s victim registry and to submit a victim impact statement to the Board for consideration at hearings or executive clemency hearings. Impact statements are written or oral information from crime victims, in their own words, about how a crime has affected them.

The legislation clarifies that victim impact statements submitted to the Prisoner Review Board are confidential and privileged.

As a former prosecutor and Vice Chairman of the Senate Criminal Law Committee, Bennett has directed his efforts to securing rights, protections and services for victims going through the criminal justice system.

House Bill 3584 advances to the governor for consideration.

Bennett 4 H

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois State Senate passed a measure this week sponsored by Senator Scott Bennett to help provide practical education programs to residents in all 102 counties in Illinois.

“Nearly every community in our state benefits from the University of Illinois’ Extension services,” Bennett (D-Champaign) said. “It’s crucial that we continue to invest in these educational programs to help our residents, businesses and communities solve problems, develop skills and build a better future.”

House Bill 2264 would require the State to make an annual appropriation for matching funds to the University of Illinois’ Cooperative Extension Services Program. Currently, the state may only provide 50 percent to county funds for the program.

The University of Illinois’ Extension offers education programs in five broad areas including energy and environmental stewardship; food safety and security; economic development and workforce preparedness; family health, financial security and wellness; and youth development.

More than 1.5 million Illinois residents take part in Extension programs each year, nearly 200,000 of whom participate in the 4-H program. UI Extension also offers hands-on workshops, field days and online self-paced tutorials.

HB 2264 has passed both the Senate and the House of Representatives and now moves to the governor for approval.

IEC press conference

SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) joined legislators, environmental groups and community leaders from across Illinois Tuesday to call on the General Assembly to be proactive about the hazardous coal ash pollution threatening Illinois lakes, rivers and streams.

“Coal ash pollution is not a partisan issue,” Bennet said. “There are coal ash pits in essentially every legislative district, so it’s important to recognize that it’s not a problem for one part of the state or one political party. It’s a problem for the state of Illinois.”

Bennett championed the Coal Ash Pollution Prevention Act to address this issue. Senate Bill 9 would direct the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to begin a rule-making process to require power plant operators to safely dispose of coal ash or ensure that pits are properly enclosed, impose fees on coal ash pits to pay the costs of hiring IEPA staff to oversee enforcement, and require power plant operators to set aside money to pay for cleaning up pits in the event a plant is shut down or a company goes bankrupt.

Portions of Bennett’s district include Vermillion County, where coal ash ponds from the retired Vermilion Power Station threaten to contaminate groundwater and the nearby Middle Fork of the Vermillion River. The IEPA has issued two violation notices to Dynegy Midwest Generation for pollution of groundwater and surface water from its three coal ash ponds near the plant.

Bennett said action is needed now because a United States EPA rule gives Illinois power companies until October 31, 2020, to close ash disposal areas that fail groundwater protection requirements, and the proposed measure would provide a framework for safe clean-up and closure. 

“Historically, Illinois is addicted to crisis. It cares after the problem occurs but it doesn’t do anything to get in front of the problem and avoid it,” Bennett said. “It is time to change that trend with bills like Senate Bill 9. This is a good, proactive legislation that provides us with the protections, regulations and financial assurances that we need to prevent more coal ash crises in Illinois.”

police memorial

URBANA – State Senator Scott Bennett paid tribute to fallen police officers during the annual Law Enforcement memorial service in Urbana, a ceremony to honor law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty. 

“Today I was honored to commemorate the selfless public servants who wear the badge and pay my respects to those who lost their lives,” Bennett (D-Champaign) said. “Our state’s law enforcement serve with courage, dedication and strength. They help enforce our laws, safeguard our property and protect our communities—all at the risk of personal peril. It’s important to take a moment to remember the cost of providing this comfort.”

Survivors and friends of the fallen officers joined their law enforcement colleagues and state officials for the services, which included honor guards, a rifle squad, and pipes and drums squads.

Bennett delivered the keynote speech during the ceremony and voiced his support for the law enforcement community and gave his sincere condolences to the families and friends of the fallen Chicago Police Department officers and Illinois State Troopers that have passed away this year.

Champaign’s ceremony also commemorated the city’s five police officers who have died in the line of duty in Champaign County since 1913.

“Law enforcement officers risk their lives every single day to help keep us and our families’ safe, and any loss of an officer deeply affects entire communities,” Bennett said. “I greatly admire the men and women who remain steadfast in the dangers of their noble profession. We honor the service and sacrifice of our state’s fallen law enforcement officers, not only for the sake of those e that have departed, but as a reminder to all of us that remain.”

Read Senator Bennett's full remarks here:

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Champaign Office:
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Champaign, IL 61820
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