Update from Senator Bennett: June 30

Illinois Outlaws Book Bans in Public Libraries

The Governor recently signed a new law prohibiting the banning of books. This law raises concerns about taking authority away elected local officials and the communities they represent. Advocates of local control, including Senator Bennett, argue that communities should retain the authority to determine the suitability of books in their local libraries through their elected library boards. He added that the focus should be on strengthening local governments, as they are directly accountable to community members and can better serve their interests.

Grocery Prices to Go Up July 1

Beginning July 1, Illinoisans will again pay more when they check out at the supermarket as the state’s grocery tax returns on July 1. Last summer, the short-term suspension of the one percent sales tax took effect as part of a series of temporary relief measures ahead of a significant election. “While Senate Republicans advocated for permanent relief for the residents of Illinois, the Majority Party only provided election-year gimmicks”, said Sen. Bennett. 

July’s tax increase comes despite Senate Republican attempts this year to provide long-term relief with Senate Bill 1150, which would have permanently made Illinois the 38th state to do away with the state grocery tax. It would have also exempted prescription drugs and other medical devices from state sales tax.

Bad Air Quality marks Holiday Weekend

Illinois faced an increasingly bad week of air quality heading into the holiday weekend as smoke is being blown into the state from Canadian wildfires. State officials issued an air quality alert for much of the week, as conditions were between “unhealthy” and “very unhealthy” levels for most of the state. These levels are the third and fourth of a five-level scale but have since lowered as weather conditions work to improve air quality.

Right now, officials warn those at risk of or respiratory issues to limit time outdoors. Furthermore, even those not at risk should be cautious outside and steer away from extended outside exercise. For current air quality data, visit AirNow to check today’s air quality and forecast for the next few days.

Upgraded High-Speed Rail Makes for Faster Commute

This week, the rail service between Chicago and St. Louis upgraded to a higher-speed service. Now, trains on the Lincoln Service Route will travel up to 110 miles an hour. An increase of 20 miles per hour, this change is expected to shave from 15 to 30 minutes off the commute, making the overall trip between the two cities less than five hours.

Overall, the upgrade project took eight years of development and five years of testing, costing nearly $2 billion. Some of this money was used to help upgrade the Springfield Amtrak station and build new stations in Dwight, Pontiac, Carlinville, and Alton. Railroad crossings were also fitted with more advanced measures to prevent collisions with vehicles on the tracks.

ISP Recruitment for 2024 Is Open

The Illinois State Police Merit Board is processing applications for its 2024 classes. These two classes consist of a Traditional Cadet Class and a Fast Track Class. The Traditional Cadet Class is open to all who apply and make it through the interview section; however, the Fast Track Class was created for already certified police officers who want to train to become Illinois State Troopers. Both classes are set to begin in April 2024. 

The requirements and application process for the program can all be found on the Illinois State Police Merit Board’s website. Several requirements are set before the Training Camp, including a Physical Fitness Inventory Test, Background Check, and Certification process. If interested, there is an application fee, but there is also a fee waiver if necessary. 

How much do we owe?

As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $528,260,787.45 to  state vendors, including 1,882 pending vouchers. 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 $139 billion. At the same time last year, the state’s accounts payable stood at a little less than $2 billion.

Did You Know?

Here are seven short and intriguing facts about the Fourth of July!

  • The original draft of the Declaration of Independence was written on a laptop, but different from the kind we use today. It was a portable writing desk known as a “laptop” then.
  • Three U.S. presidents died on the Fourth of July: John Adams (1826), Thomas Jefferson (1826), and James Monroe (1831). 
  • The Fourth of July was almost celebrated on July 2nd. That was the day the Continental Congress voted for independence, but it took a couple more days to finalize the wording of the Declaration.
  • The oldest continuous Fourth of July celebration in the United States is held in Bristol, Rhode Island. It has been celebrated there since 1785.
  • The United States did not have a national anthem until 1931. “The Star-Spangled Banner” officially became the national anthem by an act of Congress.
  • Calvin Coolidge, the 30th president of the United States, was the only president born on the Fourth of July.
  • The Fourth of July is a big day for hot dogs! According to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, Americans consume about 150 million hot dogs on Independence Day.

Upcoming Event:

Friday, July 28, 2023 | 7:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.

Coffee and Conversations with Senator Tom Bennett

Building relationships, one cup at a time.


Come out for a conversation with your elected official and help to brew a better future.

  • Join discussions related to state and local issues impacting you.
  • Receive updates on recent legislation passed by the Illinois General Assembly.
  • Offer your thoughts, ideas, and concerns on issues that matter to you and your family.

Coffee will be provided!

This Week in the 53rd District

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