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SB3240

  • bennett 041218SPRINGFIELD – People with certain criminal convictions on their record would be banned from working at a carnival, amusement park or fair under a new measure by State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign).

    Senate Bill 3240 will allow the Department of Labor to penalize and fine a person, firm, corporation or other entity that owns or operates a carnival, amusement park or fair that fails to conduct a criminal history check. The measure passed out of a Senate committee this week.

    “Families go to fairs and carnivals to enjoy themselves and have fun,” Bennett said. “This bill ensures that members of our community can feel safe and protected doing just that.”

    Under current law, all ride operators at Illinois carnivals are supposed to pass a criminal background check. However, state law says those checks should be entrusted to carnival operators, not the state.  Inspectors from the Department of Labor are only supposed to make sure that the checks were done.

    In 2014, Blayne Benefield was killed in Farmer City by two brothers who were employees of Big H Amusements. While the amusement ride company was required to perform background checks on employees that operate rides, it did not have to do so for other employees.

    Bennett said this is an important distinction because Big H Amusements claimed that the brothers were not considered ride operators, however, photo evidence taken the night before the murder shows the older brother operating a ride. Both brothers had criminal records, with the younger one pleading guilty to the sexual assault of a minor one year before the murder.

    “What happened to Blayne Benefield and his family was a tragedy,” Bennett said. “This is a commonsense way to prevent this from ever happening again. It’s a matter of public safety and we need to hold operators accountable to make sure that they are conducting proper criminal history checks and doing everything they can to keep our communities safe.”

    SB 3240 passed the Senate Licensed Activities and Pensions Committee and will now be considered by the full Senate.