Masks for schools; Champion of Free Enterprise

State Board of Education and Emergency Management Agency distributing masks to schools

Students attending local schools which will be having in-person classes this fall will be able to obtain a free cloth face mask from the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA). The agencies are partnering to distribute 2.5 million cloth face masks to every public school in the state. So far 2.3 million of these masks have already been shipped. Face shields will also be made available for staff and students who want the extra protection.

Distributing these masks takes some of the budgetary pressure off of local school districts who would otherwise have had to come up with the funds for purchasing masks and personal protective equipment themselves. Those school districts wishing to request additional supplies may learn about the ISBE process at www.isbe.net/Documents/PPE-Info.pdf. Individuals interested in learning about ISBE’s response to the pandemic can find more information at www.isbe.net/covid19.

‘Champion of Free Enterprise’

Every two years as we near the end of the General Assembly’s term, the Illinois Chamber of Commerce reviews the voting records of all 177 members to determine which ones have done the most to support job creation and economic development in Illinois. Those with the highest ratings are then named Champions of Free Enterprise. I was honored to learn that I am again among this group.

It has been a tough year for Illinois businesses, many of whom were already struggling with the poor business climate we had before the pandemic. I am proud to support the small businesses who keep our communities going and who have done so much to help our neighbors get through this latest crisis. So it is indeed an honor to be recognized by the Chamber for supporting our local businesses.

I was especially appreciative of Chamber President and CEO Todd Maisch who said, “Our employers need legislators who are representing them both in their district and in their votes. Representative Bennett’s 92% rating shows just how accountable he has been to the business community both in the state and around his district. We are proud to honor his contributions to promoting free enterprise with this award.”

Emergency funding program for local governments begins accepting applications August 26

The Local Coronavirus Urgent Remediation Emergency (Local CURE) support program offers reimbursements to local governments for costs incurred due to the coronavirus emergency. The federally-funded program is run through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, which will begin accepting applications for funding on August 26.

Costs eligible for reimbursement include such items as establishing temporary medical facilities, extra costs related to enforcing public health orders and other outbreak-related expenses which were necessary for responding to the public health emergency. Ineligible expenses are things like damages covered by insurance or replacing revenue shortfalls. More information is available by clicking here.

Please join us for a discussion on the impact of COVID-19 on local businesses

Join Amanda Hibbs, Executive Director of the Watseka Chamber of Commerce and Cat Coppinger, Executive Director of the Pontiac Chamber of Commerce and me for Live with State Rep. Tom Bennett on Thursday, Augst 20 at 5:00 p.m. for an important discussion on the impact that COVID-19 has had on local businesses. Visit my Facebook page for details.

More news from around the state

The latest news from the Department of Public Health

Former Governor Jim Thompson passes away at the age of 84

New COVID-19 mitigation efforts take effect in Metro-East area of southwest Illinois

Department of Public Health launches travel map to provide guidance on travel risk

All Illinois State Museum facilities now open with free admission and reduced hours

Deadline for emergency rental assistance program is this Friday

For additional helpful resources, click here.

For continually updated news from state agencies, visit: coronavirus.illinois.gov or my website at repbennett.com 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 dph.sick@illinois.gov.

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).