Madigan hearings begin; Funds for coronavirus response jobs

House investigation into Madigan begins

On Thursday the Illinois House’s Special Investigating Committee met for the first time to begin its investigation of allegations surrounding House Speaker Michael Madigan. The committee consists of three Republicans and three Democrats. Having gotten organized and made opening statements last Thursday, this week committee members will meet with federal prosecutors to determine how to coordinate their investigations without interfering with any possible criminal prosecutions that might be underway.

Committee Republicans spoke before the first hearing about their expectations for the investigation. The committee is looking into admissions by the electricity provider ComEd implicating Speaker Madigan in a recent deferred prosecution agreement entered into by ComEd.

At the opening hearing the committee entered six exhibits into the record; the petition which created the Special Investigating Committee, the Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA), the federal subpoena issued to Madigan’s office, formal charges, and the Committee’s request to seek witnesses to voluntarily testify and provide factual information from individuals and entities to help the Investigating Committee.

Unlike a criminal prosecution, the special investigating committee will be focused on determining whether the Speaker has acted in a manner unbecoming of a representative or has committed a breach of public trust. The committee does not necessarily have to prove a crime was committed in order to find a breach of public trust. It is possible that if the investigating committee finds such conduct occurred they can report their findings to a Select Committee on Discipline which could then recommend to the full House that disciplinary action take place. It would take 71 votes to reprimand or censure the Speaker, and 79 votes to expel him from the House.

State receives federal grants for coronavirus response hiring

The process of safely re-opening Illinois from the shutdown has proven to be very labor intensive. Public places need extra personnel for enhanced cleaning and for tasks like temperature screenings and enhanced safety measures around food handling. At the same time unemployment remains high in the state. Now we have gotten some help from Washington DC to connect those looking for work with these important jobs keeping people safe.

The state of Illinois recently received two grants in the total of $16.6 million to train and hire more than 1300 people for jobs related to the coronavirus response. The funds come from the federal Disaster Recovery Grant program and the Employment Recovery Grant program. The grants will be used to hire Illinoisans to assist in the local disaster relief effort in such capacities as temperature screeners, sanitation workers and food preparation and distribution workers.

More information about applying can be found on the Get Hired Illinois jobs portal.

Discussing assistance available for small businesses

This Thursday at 5 p.m. I will be joined by Assistant Director Michael Negron of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity for a Facebook live conversation on the ongoing efforts to help Illinois small businesses get back on their feet. Our small businesses have been dealing with the economic impact of the coronavirus shutdowns for the past six months.

There are state and federal programs available to assist them as they help our communities through these challenging times, and we will be discussing some of the ways these programs can help. Please visit my Facebook page to find out more information.

Visiting Iroquois West Middle School                                    

This week we mark the anniversary of our U.S. Constitution. A few days ago I visited with a socially-distanced group of 8th graders at Iroquois West Middle School to talk about our Bill of Rights, elections and the importance of the checks and balances between the different branches of government.

This is a bright group of students and I appreciated their questions. These are our future leaders and government works best when people are knowledgeable and involved. My thanks to Principal Duane Ehmen, Deanna McIntyre, Trixie Pankey and the staff at Iroquois West Middle School for the invitation and to all the students for being such an attentive audience.

More news from around the state

The latest update from the Department of Public Health

Inside U of I’s massive COVID-19 testing operation – 20% of tests are conducted by the school

30 Illinois counties now at warning level for coronavirus

DOC and DPH investigating two cases of Legionnaire’s Disease at Pontiac Correctional Center

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).