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Update from the Capitol 7/24/2020

Friday, July 24, 2020 - Posted 9:46:27 AM by Rep. Tom Bennett

Join our call for a special session on ethics reform

Silence_is_Corruption_Petition_(002).jpgAs you know, last week Speaker Madigan was implicated in a bribery investigation involving the electric utility ComEd. Speaker Madigan has not been indicted or accused of a crime by prosecutors, but this latest incident shows that the need for ethics reform in Illinois could not be more clear.

Many members of the House, including me, have introduced ethics reform bills this year and for many years before. They never seem to go anywhere. Speaker Madigan controls which bills make it out of committee and which bills never see the light of day. Even before this latest scandal, the General Assembly had been rocked with ethical violations, including a state representative who had to resign earlier this year after he was caught on tape offering a bribe to a state senator.

The House is not scheduled to be back in session until November, but we cannot wait that long to start cleaning up the ethical mess in state government. Under the Illinois Constitution, there are two officials who can call a special session of the House of Representatives: the Speaker of the House and the Governor. I do not expect Speaker Madigan to call us into special session to pass real ethics reform, so we are asking Governor Pritzker to do so.

Governor Pritzker said in his State of the State address at the start of this year, "it's no longer enough to sit idle while under-the-table deals, extortion, or bribery persist. Protecting that culture or tolerating it is no longer acceptable. We must take urgent action to restore the public's trust in our government."

Join with me in encouraging Governor Pritzker to back up his words with some action. Sign our petition to demand that the governor call the legislature back into special session right away so that we can have real ethics reforms.

Updated list of highway projects released

The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) has released the latest Multi-Year Plan for highway projects around the state between now and 2026. It includes dozens of projects in all five counties of the 106th district. It is important to note that this list is only the IDOT projects on state roads. Additional city, county and township projects can be done by those local governments as well.

Among the many projects included in the plan are replacement of a bridge on I-74 and rehabilitating pavement on Illinois 117 in Woodford County, bridge reconstruction on Illinois 17 and ADA improvements to Illinois 23 in Cornell in Livingston County, bridge replacement on I-57 and pavement rehabilitation on Illinois 47 in Ford County, new bridges on I-57 and repairs to pavement on U.S. 24 in Iroquois County, and pavement repairs and bridge replacement on Illinois 1 in Vermilion County. This program includes 103 projects in our district for a total investment in our area of $375.2 million.

See the full list of projects in our area here.

Department of Employment Security (IDES) warns about unemployment fraud

From IDES: An individual who has not filed an unemployment claim but has received a debit card or an unemployment insurance (UI) finding letter in the mail has most likely been the target of fraud. An individual's personal identifying information is being used by fraudsters to file an unemployment claim is likely due to a prior cyber hack or data breach, such as the Equifax breach.

It is imperative that individuals take the following steps if they have not filed an unemployment claim and have erroneously received an unemployment debit card or UI finding letter in the mail:

  • Immediately call IDES at 800.814.0513 and when prompted:

                        o Select the English or Spanish language option

o Selection option 1 for claimants

o Selection option 5 to report identity theft

  • Do not activate the debit card that was mailed to you.
  • Have your credit report checked for possible suspicious activity and post a fraud alert.
  • Visit the Federal Trade Commission's website to learn helpful tips on recognizing and reporting identity theft.

Read the full statement from IDES here.

How much do we owe?

As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $4,875,009,378 in unpaid bills to state vendors. One year ago, the backlog stood at $6.4 billion. This figure represents the amount of bills submitted to the office of the Comptroller and still awaiting payment. It does not include debts that can only be estimated, such as our unfunded pension liability which is subject to a wide range of factors and has been estimated to be more than $137 billion.

More news from around the state

The latest update from the Department of Public Health

House GOP seeks special session on ethics reform

Urgent warnings issued by police after pattern of unemployment fraud hits Illinois

Information about financial aid for college from the Illinois Student Assistance Commission

For additional helpful resources, click here.

For continually updated news from state agencies, visit: or my website at and click on COVID-19 Info. Persons with coronavirus questions or concerns should call the statewide toll-free coronavirus hotline at 1-800-889-3931. You can also submit questions via e-mail at

My district offices remain closed to in-person visits, but are still accessible by phone at (815) 432-0106 (Watseka) and (815) 844-9179 (Pontiac).