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Bennett legislation prevents criminals from working at fairs and carnivals

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.

Bennett announces $2.1 million in new funding for Danville School District 118

bennett 032318DANVILLE – Danville School District 118 will receive more than $2.1 million in new money through the education funding overhaul passed by the Senate last year, announced State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign).

Under the school funding reform plan, schools will continue to receive the same state assistance they previously received.  However, the new formula is designed to ensure the most state assistance will be directed to school districts most in need.

“For far too long, many downstate school districts like those in Danville were being left behind by the state,” Bennett said. “Now, for the first time we have a funding formula that provides fair and adequate funding for students throughout the state.”

The distribution is based on detailed enrollment figures, district-specific student learning needs, available local resources and other data. No schools in Danville will receive less state funding than they do today.

“Every school in Danville is a winner under this plan,” Bennett said. “This new money is a good first step in giving students, teachers and parents in Danville the equitable and fair funding level that they deserve.”

Scott Bennett works to support flood victims in Vermilion County

bennett 032318CHAMPAIGN – State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is working to bring more help to those affected by flood damage in his district.

Last month, flooding from heavy rainfall along rivers and in low-lying areas forced Vermilion County families to evacuate their homes and caused destruction to personal property, roads and government buildings.

Scott Bennett announces $137,000 grant for Champaign Park District

bennett 053116CHAMPAIGN – State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is excited to announce that families in Champaign will soon have a brand new park equipped with soccer fields, a multipurpose field, a multi-purpose path and parking.

Champaign Park District was awarded $137,000 through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ National Park Service’s Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

“Local parks are an essential part of a happy and healthy city,” Bennett said. “I’m thrilled that this grant will provide more beautiful green spaces and great community programs for my family, friends and neighbors.”

Champaign Park District will be using the grant for the acquisition of Human Kinetics Park, a 5.6 acre park that is privately owned but currently leased to the park district. 

The LCWF grant program, administered by the state’s Department of Natural Resources, provides up to 50 percent of the cost of projects to help purchase land to be used for public access and recreation.

The LWCF grant program began in 1965 and, prior to this year, awarded more than $126 million 733 park projects in Illinois.

Sen. Scott Bennett

Senator Scott Bennett

52nd Senate District

Years served: 2015 - Present

Associated Representatives: Carol Ammons; Chad Hays

Committee assignments: Agriculture; Appropriations II; Criminal Law; Gaming; Higher Education; Labor.

Biography: Bennett grew up in Gibson City, where four generations of his family worked on their family farm. He moved to Champaign-Urbana to attend law school at the University of Illinois after graduating from Illinois State University.