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Bennett: Blood banks in need of adequate blood supply

Published: Wednesday, March 18, 2020 04:15 PM

Sen. Scott BennettCHAMPAIGN – Blood centers around the state are facing a decrease in blood donation appointments and cancellation of blood drives due to COVID-19. Under the circumstances, State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is encouraging those willing and able to donate blood.

“While our national attention is on the coronavirus, other health issues – like anemia, serious injuries, surgeries, and cancer patients that require blood – continue at pre-pandemic rates,” Bennett said. “If you are healthy and eligible, it is critical to donate now.”

The Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center is closely monitoring the outbreak of COVID-19 and has emphasized that individuals are not at risk of contracting COVID-19 from donating blood. There is also no known risk of the safety of the nation’s blood supply, only the adequacy of the supply at this time.

Morrison encourages people to donate to local food pantries

Published: Wednesday, March 18, 2020 04:14 PM

Sen. Julie A. MorrisonDEERFIELD — During this trying time, State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Lake Forest) is encouraging people willing and able to donate to local food pantries.

“People throughout the state have lost work due to the coronavirus outbreak, either temporarily or permanently,” Morrison said. “Their feet were pulled out from underneath them, and now they don’t know how they’re going to feed their families.”

Morrison is asking people who have the means to donate to local food pantries in the northern suburbs.

Manar backs legislation aimed at reversing decline of small-town journalism

Published: Friday, March 13, 2020 04:39 PM

newspapers2 031320BUNKER HILL – The state would launch a new effort aimed at reversing the decline of local journalism in small and mid-sized towns in Illinois under legislation co-sponsored by State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill).

Authored by State Senator Steve Stadelman (D-Rockford), Senate Bill 3457 creates the Local Journalism Task Force, which would conduct a study on communities underserved by local journalism and provide insight on how to preserve and restore news coverage in those areas. The task force would be made up of 12 individuals representing print and broadcast media, journalism schools, and state and local government leaders.

“Quality local news is an important element of any thriving community,” Manar said. “For generations, local newspapers have document the highs and lows of communities like mine, served as a watchful eye over local leaders, and amplified stories of rural families that would otherwise go unheard. It’s important that we recognize the value they bring and ensure their work continues.”

The study would review all aspects of local journalism, including, but not limited to the adequacy of press coverage of communities, the ratio of residents to media outlets, the impact of social media on local news, and strategies to improve local news access.

The task force would also be required to present public policy solutions to improve the sustainability of local press business models. The task force must submit the findings from the study to the governor and the General Assembly no later than one year after the law takes effect.

Sam Fisher, the President and CEO of the Illinois Press Association, says newspapers large and small, throughout Illinois, face challenges brought on by the internet and the erosion of local businesses.

“Any legislative effort to ensure the continued existence of local journalism, which is at the heart of our democracy, is something that we applaud and will support,” Fisher added. “Democracy dies in the dark, and without local newspapers the light of day becomes increasingly hard to find.”

A study by the Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Media at the University of North Carolina showed Illinois has lost 157 weekly newspapers since 2004, while the United States has lost more than 1,700 altogether.

Bennett promotes free tax preparation assistance to seniors and low-income families

Published: Thursday, March 12, 2020 03:27 PM

taxprep 031220SPRINGFIELD – Tax season is upon us, and you have until April 15 to file your return. Low-to-moderate income families and senior citizens needing assistance filing their 2019 income taxes can receive free help through several trusted programs across Illinois, State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) announced Thursday.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and AARP Tax-Aide programs are providing free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals in over 300 locations statewide.  

“Every dollar counts for some folks and paying someone to prepare their taxes may not be an option,” Bennett said. “Offering free tax preparation services helps seniors and families in need receive the credits and refunds they’ve earned while bypassing the high cost of a paid tax preparer.” 

The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly programs offer free tax help for individuals making $56,000 or less, persons with disabilities, taxpayers who speak limited English and individuals 60 years of age or older.

Additionally, AARP’s Foundation Tax-Aide program focuses on helping low-to-moderate income individuals, with special attention to those over 50 years of age. An AARP membership is not required.

Illinois taxpayers can search for a free tax assistance provider closest to them by visiting the Illinois Department of Revenue’s website tax.illinois.gov.

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