• Bennett urges residents to dine locally

    outdoor dining2 052920CHAMPAIGN – After restrictions were lifted for Phase 3 of the Restore Illinois plan to allow for outdoor dining, State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) encourages people to support their local business owners.

    “The economic impacts of this pandemic have been devastating to small businesses, especially those in the food service and hospitality industries,” Bennett said. “We have a responsibility to our local businesses to do all we can to get them going again. Now is the time to support our business owners and working people that make our community special.”

    Since the first executive order issued on March 21, restaurants and bars had been forced to stop dine-in service to slow the spread of COVID-19. Earlier this month, the governor announced outdoor dining would now be permitted for regions that enter Phase 3 of the Restore Illinois plan. All four regions entered Phase 3 Friday, May 29.

    “It’s critical that we continue to listen to the recommendations of our public health experts so we can continue to progress forward,” Bennett said. “Please be considerate and remember to wear your masks and keep six feet apart while waiting to reserve a table.”

  • Bennett protects senior services in this year’s state budget

    senior care 052820CHAMPAIGN – The state budget for the next fiscal year will increase funding to senior services to help some of the most vulnerable Illinoisans cope during the COVID-19 crisis, State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) announced Thursday.

    “Because seniors are more likely to experience serious consequences if they contract coronavirus, many older adults have had to isolate themselves from friends and family for the past few months,” Bennett said. “This budget gives our seniors the tools to live independently.”

    To offer much-needed assistance to struggling seniors during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, the budget provides $201.7 million in additional funding to the Illinois Department on Aging.

    This includes $1 billion in support for the Community Care Program, which provides cost-effective alternatives to nursing home placement and helps seniors maintain their independence. As long-term care facilities account for a disproportionate number of COVID-19 deaths across the country, programs that enable older adults to remain at home may save lives.

    The funds will also allow the Department on Aging to continue to offer home-delivered meal services and run the Senior HelpLine, which connects older adults and caregivers with local programs and services. In addition, the budget increases funding to Adult Protective Services to expand efforts to prevent abuse, neglect and financial exploitation of older adults.

    Area Agencies on Aging will receive an additional $1.2 million to provide community-based services to seniors at a local level.

    “While isolation may be a necessary step to keep higher-risk older adults safe during this pandemic, they are not alone,” Bennett said. “I’m pleased to see the state is stepping up to protect vital services for our aging parents, friends and loved ones.”

  • Bennett outlines plan to reopen child care in Illinois

    bennett floor 052220CHAMPAIGN - State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is confident in the state’s cautious approach to reopen child care centers when the Central Region enters phase 3 of the Restore Illinois plan, likely next week.

    “As businesses begin reopening and Illinoisans prepare to return to work, child care is a top priority for many families,” Bennett said. “The availability of child care that enables them to go to work is crucial. New guidelines have been put in place for child care centers to plan and prepare for a safe reopening.”

    The Stay at Home Order issued on March 20 and amended on April 20 closed all child care programs, later establishing an emergency childcare structure to provide care for essential workers.

    Under phase 3 and 4 of the governor’s reopening plan, all child care facilities will be able to open, as long as they create their own reopening plan that keeps both children and staff safe and healthy, and adhere to the guidelines set by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

    That plan must include what to do if a child or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, daily symptom checks and a face covering requirement, among other things.

    Under the governor’s plan, no more than 10 children will be allowed in a classroom at a time for four weeks. After that, if the center has met proper health, social distancing and sanitation requirements, it will be able to expand to larger group sizes.

    Additionally, child care programs that have been open since the start of the Stay at Home Order will be allowed expand capacity as their region enters phase three.

    “Reopening child care centers will not only relieve parents when they return to work, but it will also give children access to educational resources in a safe learning environment,” Bennett said.


    All regions of the state are on track to move to the next phase as early as May 29.

  • Bennett votes in favor of education package

    Sen. Scott BennettSPRINGFIELD Students and educators have faced tremendous barriers with COVID-19, which has impacted every classroom in Illinois. State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) recognized the challenges they face and favorably voted for an education package to make a high quality education available for students at all levels, whether it be in-person or remotely.

    “It is imperative we continue to invest in our education system, especially in these unfortunate times,” said Bennett, a member of the Senate Higher Education Committee. “I have always prioritized education during my time in the General Assembly, and I believe people will need higher education and job training more than ever after this pandemic.”

  • Bennett announces all state parks reopen to visitors May 29

    Kickapoo State ParkCHAMPAIGN – As the state is on track to move to Phase 3 of the Restore Illinois plan May 29, all state parks will be able to reopen, State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) announced Thursday.

    At a May 20 press briefing, the governor reported all state parks that have not already reopened will be allowed to do so when the state moves to the next phase, and all concession stands at those parks will be permitted to reopen, with safety measures in place.

  • Bennett: Dental offices begin reopening for routine care

    DentistsCHAMPAIGN – State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is encouraged to learn the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has updated its guidance on allowing dental providers to resume routine oral and dental care beginning this week.

    “IDPH’s decision to allow dentists to resume routine oral and dental care gives me great optimism and shows the progress we’ve made,” Bennett said. “Dental offices are good at infection control and always have been. I’m confident they will be able to comply with IDPH’s guidelines to ensure patients and staff are safe.”

  • Bennett pleased with governor’s withdraw of emergency rule

    smallbiz 052020CHAMPAIGN – State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is pleased with Gov. JB Pritzker’s decision to withdraw his emergency rule Wednesday, which would have penalized businesses for reopening early.

    The rule, which the governor introduced Friday, would allow fines up to $2,500 for businesses caught violating the executive order. Bennett raised his concerns with the emergency rule in a formal letter to the chairs of the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) Tuesday.

    “Business owners are eager to get back to work under our economic circumstances,” Bennett said. “If the rule had been enacted, the consequences would have been severe. Even proposing this rule created unnecessary fear for business owners just trying to get by.”

    Bennett also emphasized in his letter the need to consult with local officials and the General Assembly before filing these rules. 

    JCAR announced in its Wednesday meeting that it would not take action since the emergency rule is already being repealed by the governor.

    “With the General Assembly back in session this week, it’s appropriate to continue dealing with this issue through the regular legislative process where my colleagues and I can provide input,” Bennett said.

  • Bennett calls for accountability as issues with unemployment continue

    unemployment2 052020CHAMPAIGN – State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is calling on Gov. JB Pritzker to take additional steps to mend the state’s failed system for unemployment compensation, which has prevented Illinoisans from receiving any help after losing their jobs in March.

    For eight weeks, Illinoisans trying to file for unemployment benefits have jammed the phone lines of the state’s employment services department. Many have been on hold for hours, while others have not been able to make it that far. As weeks turn into months, frustrations are boiling over among laid-off and furloughed workers who have been unable to cut through the system to obtain benefits.

    “Even with a new system in place, many people still cannot get through to IDES over the phone or online, and some have not received any payment at all,” Bennett said. “We cannot ask people to stay home if they aren’t receiving the necessary means to put food on the table.”

    Bennett has also argued that Champaign and Vermilion counties' current health statistics are under control and the Central Region of the Restore Illinois plan is ready to move to phase 3, which would allow for a safe opening of manufacturers, retail store, barbershops and salons.

    Because of the work from residents to help flatten the curve and reduce the spread, Champaign and Vermilion counties have been able to maintain a steady and declining number of new cases of COVID-19. As of Wednesday, Champaign County had 435 positive cases of COVID-19 and 7 deaths, while Vermilion County had 30 positive cases and 1 death.

    “Moving forward, I am focused on preparing Illinois communities to safely reopen,” Bennett said. “Until the unemployment system can handle the needs of Illinoisans in an adequate way, I will work toward getting people back to work in a safe and responsible manner to restore livelihoods.”

  • Bennett to co-host webinar for Asian American businesses

    asianamerican 051920CHAMPAIGN – A webinar to provide information on grants, loans, and other resources for Asian American small businesses, hosted by representatives from the federal, state, county, and municipal governments will take place Wednesday, May 20. 

    State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign), a member of the Illinois Asian American Legislative Caucus, will join the Asian American Caucus, the Asian American Executive Network and the Asian American Coalition of Chicago at 11 a.m. to answer questions and share their experiences navigating this pandemic. 

    “Our small businesses are facing an unprecedented economic disruption due to the coronavirus outbreak,” Bennett said. “Join this free online webinar Wednesday to learn more about programs that can provide vital economic support to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue during this crisis.” 

    To RSVP and to receive the webinar link, please visit

    For questions or additional information, Bennett urges residents to contact his office at 217-355-5252 or visit  


  • Bennett welcomes free COVID-19 testing site in Champaign

    Jones cvd testing 041520CHAMPAIGN – State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) reported Monday a new drive-thru testing site will open in Champaign Tuesday, May 19 to help individuals with COVID-19 symptoms and employees who support critical services. 

    “This virus knows no boundaries,” Bennett said. “Broad testing for people with both COVID symptoms and those without is an important step to stem the spread of this illness and eventually overcome this pandemic.” 

    The new site will be located in the parking lot of  Market Place Shopping Center at 2000 N. Neil Street and will offer testing services seven days a week from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m., or while daily supplies last.

    All individuals with symptoms are encouraged to seek testing at these Community Based Testing Sites. Priority is given to first responders, health care workers, seniors, those with underlying conditions or with mild illness in areas with a high number of COVID-19 cases.

    Additional accommodations have been made for the following individuals with or without COVID-like symptoms, such as healthcare workers, first responders, employees of correctional facilities, individuals exposed to confirmed COVID-19 patients, employees that support critical infrastructure (grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants, gas stations, public utilities, factories, childcare and sanitation), all local and state government employees, and individuals with compromised immune systems, chronic medical conditions.

    From the Illinois Department of Public Health, here is what to know before you go:

    • This is a free service that can be obtained without a doctor’s referral. While this is a free service, you will be asked to show photo identification and healthcare employee or first responder ID/badge, if applicable.
    • Patients utilizing drive-thru testing sites must be seated at a functioning window. Once you get in line at the CBTS, you will not be permitted to exit your car. For the safety of the testing personnel, drive-thru sites will not be able to accommodate walk-up individuals.
    • Due to the demand for this service, we anticipate there could be significant wait times associated with these drive-thru community-based testing sites. Please be patient. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, you are urged to call your doctor or emergency department to seek immediate care and instructions.

    The Illinois Department of Public Health’s website has all of the latest and most accurate information on the all aspects of the state’s actions regarding the pandemic: visit You can also call their hotline at 800-889-3931, or email questions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

  • Bennett: Drive-through vehicle registration renewals to open in Tilton

    sos facility2 051520DANVILLE - Beginning Tuesday, May 19, the Tilton Department of Motor Vehicles will offer a drive-through service to assist customers with vehicle registration sticker transactions, State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) announced Friday. 

    “Since COVID-19 hit, the secretary of state’s office has encouraged residents to utilize their online services,” Bennett said. “By offering limited services at select DMVs, we are starting to see the progression forward, while still prioritizing customers and workers safety.”

    Tilton was one of seven facilities selected to open due to the configuration of the building which allows for drive-through transactions. All employees will wear face masks and customers are encouraged to do the same. 

    The hours of operation will be Tuesday 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Wednesday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday 7:30 a.m. to noon. 

    Bennett continues to urge the public to renew their vehicle registration stickers online at for those customers who able. All expiration dates for driver’s licenses, ID cards and vehicle registrations have been extended at least 90 days after Driver Services facilities reopen.

    Bennett also reminded residents the federal government extended the REAL ID deadline by one year. The deadline is now October 1, 2021.


  • Bennett encourages self-advocates at virtual Going Home Rally

    bennett 022620CHAMPAIGN – State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) joined hundreds of advocates from across Illinois virtually Thursday to speak on the plight of people with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    “This year’s advocacy day looked a little different than in years past, but it’s critical that advocates continue to raise their voices about issues that impact people with disabilities,” said Bennett. “The coronavirus pandemic has been overwhelming for everyone, but especially for individuals with disabilities whose routines have been disrupted abruptly.”

  • Bennett: Wi-Fi hotspot map available for students and educators

    wifi hotspots 050820

    DANVILLE – In response to Illinois schools transitioning to e-learning for the remainder of the academic year, State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is encouraging remote learners and educators to use the state’s new drive-up Wi-Fi hotspot map to find free wireless internet locations.

    “Remote learning has been a challenge for students living in rural areas and they need a strong, reliable Wi-Fi connection to communicate with their teachers and complete their coursework,” Bennett said. “This interactive map is a great tool for the thousands of students participating in e-learning.”

    Designed to assist students at every level who don’t have consistent internet access in their homes, the interactive map provides drive-up Wi-Fi locations throughout the state and specific log-in instructions for visitors. Students and their parents or guardians should continue to practice social distancing by remaining in their cars while using the hotspots.

    “It’s important that we support our teachers, students, and parents during this difficult time, in addition to keeping students on course academically,” Bennett said.

    The Wi-Fi map has multiple locations available in Vermilion County, including local colleges and libraries. To find a hotspot near you, click here.

  • Bennett: CDL driving tests resume at limited locations

    cdl 051120CHAMPAIGN - The Illinois Secretary of State’s office has taken steps to help commercial drivers continue delivering and producing essential goods, thanks to advocacy from Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Scott Bennett (D-Champaign).

    Three Commercial Drivers License (CDL) facilities are now open to meet the overwhelming demand being placed on commercial and agricultural enterprises delivering and producing essential goods. 

    “Truckers are a key component of the supply chain and it relies upon new commercial drivers to haul goods across the country,” Senator Bennett said. “It’s imperative that CDL facilities open to train, test and license new commercial drivers to avoid truck driver shortages during this crisis.”

    While only a limited number of facilities are set to reopen, the secretary of state’s office will be taking the necessary precautions to protect the health and safety of employees and applicants. 

    The locations and hours of the facilities open include: 

    • Springfield Dirksen, 2701 S. Dirksen Pkwy, Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m. 
    • Marion, 1905 W. Rendelman St., Tuesday 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Wednesday-Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday 7:30 a.m.-noon  
    • West Chicago, 120 Powis Rd., Tuesday-Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturday 7:30 a.m.-2 p.m.

    CDL driving tests will be conducted by appointment only and can be scheduled by calling 217-785-3013. All other CDL transactions will be first-come, first-served. For more information, please visit  

  • Bennett urges Vermilion County residents to complete census from home

    Sen. Scott BennettDANVILLE – State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) encouraged Vermilion County residents to fill out the 2020 Census, protecting their representation in government and share of federal funding.

    “The census is currently underway and is easy to complete with the new online questionnaire option. For a family of four, I was able to fill it out in a matter of minutes using a smartphone,” Bennett said. “Responding to the census is critically important because it determines funding for things like roads, hospitals, fire departments, and schools in Vermilion County.”

  • Bennett: Reduce utility bills during Stay at Home Order

    electric meter2CHAMPAIGNState Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is encouraging residents to participate in the Citizens Utility Board’s (CUB) ongoing Virtual Utility Bill Clinic to potentially save homeowners money during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    “Home energy bills are on the rise while more people work remotely and children have switched to e-learning during the Stay at Home Order,” Bennett said. “Families and individuals that are facing financial hardship during this crisis should tune into CUB’s virtual clinics to learn how to reduce their utility bills.”

  • Bennett urges Champaign County residents to complete census from home

    Be CountedCHAMPAIGN – State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) encouraged Champaign County residents to fill out the 2020 Census, protecting their representation in government and share of federal funding.

    “The census is currently underway and is easy to complete with the new online questionnaire option. For a family of four, I was able to fill it out in a matter of minutes using a smartphone,” Bennett said. “Responding to the census is critically important because it determines funding for things like roads, hospitals, fire departments, and schools in Champaign County.”

    In 2010, Champaign County had a final response rate of 70.4%. So far this year, Champaign’s response rate is down, currently only at 60.7%. More than half of the county’s residents’ responses have been submitted online.

  • Bennett pushes for the Middle Fork River Preserve to reopen

    bennett 022620CHAMPAIGN – State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) urges Gov. JB Pritzker to rethink his decisions to keep Middle Fork River Preserve closed for the remainder of the Stay at Home Order.

    Bennett raised concerns in a letter to the governor after reviewing the list of parks set to reopen and learning the Middle Fork River Preserve wasn’t set to reopen.

    “With appropriate social distancing and other commonsense measures kept in place, it makes no sense to keep the Middle Fork River Preserve closed,” Bennett said. “I urge the governor to rethink his decision and allow our communities to access this state park.”

    At an April 23 press briefing, the governor announced a modified extension to the Stay at Home Order, including a phased reopening of state parks under guidance from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

    Bennett was joined by other downstate members in sending a formal letter to the governor’s office emphasizing that many residents are feeling disconnected during the pandemic and rely on outdoor spaces to keep calm.

    He believes that recreation is at risk for all Illinoisans, but particularly those who live downstate.

    “Getting out to enjoy the outdoors is essential for people’s mental health and wellbeing during this pandemic,” Bennett said. “It’s important that we create a safe path for people to do things in rural areas so they can cooperate with the governor’s order.”

  • Bennett to join Illinois CASA advocates during virtual child abuse prevention event

    fblive logo 042920CHAMPAIGN A virtual event to raise awareness and draw attention to child abuse, hosted by the Illinois Association of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), will take place Wednesday, April 29. 

    State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) will join statewide stakeholders on a Zoom call for the first Hands Across Illinois event to raise awareness and draw attention to child abuse.

    Bennett and stakeholders will educate Illinois communities about child abuse, provide resources on how to report abuse, and challenge folks to support this important work, especially during this crisis.

    “Strengthening families and preventing child abuse requires a shared commitment of individuals and organizations in every community,” Bennett said. “Now, more than ever, we need to raise awareness about child abuse prevention.”  

    Illinois CASA will livestream the event on their Facebook page at 12 p.m. For more information, please visit Illinois CASA’s website at

  • Bennett urges business owners to apply for federal PPP loans

    closed corona 042820CHAMPAIGN State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is encouraging self-employed and small business owners to call their banks immediately to start the process for the Paycheck Protection Program.

    “Small business owners and employees, who are facing lost profits and layoffs due to widespread business closures are hurting. PPP loans can help keep their workforce employed during this pandemic,” Bennett said. “Small businesses needing assistance should speak to their lender immediately to ensure all appropriate paperwork is in order.”

    SBA started accepting applications from approved lenders on behalf of eligible businesses Monday. Bennett is urging qualified businesses to not wait to apply.

    Qualified businesses in one or more of these categories include:

    • Self-employed,
    • Less than 500 employees,
    • Sole proprietor,
    • Independent contractor,
    • Private non-profit 501(C)(19), and/or
    • Veterans organization.

    The loan is meant to keep workers of small businesses on the payroll and it will be forgiven if employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest or utilities.

    For more information, visit SBA’s website.