State Rep. Tom Bennett stopped by the Hoopeston Rotary meeting Sept. 17 in the Carle Hoopeston Regional Health Center board room.

Bennett addressed several different topics during the meeting including a major capital bill that was recently passed by the General Assembly.

Bennett said the bill will, for the first time in nearly a decade, significantly increase the amount of Motor Fuel Tax (MFT) fund revenue local governments will receive from the Illinois Department of Transportation and increase opportunities for local governments to receive IDOT grant funding.

Bennett pointed out that Illinois’ infrastructure in a serious state of disrepair, with the American Society of Civil Engineers consistently giving Illinois near-failing grades on their annual report card.

Bennett said one of the most common concerns he hears from his constituents is the state of the roads and bridges in the Illinois.

He also discussed the “Blue Collar Jobs Act,” a first-of-its-kind in the nation tax credit for large-scale construction project. The act does not provide the tax credit to the company until the project is completed.

Bennett said the General Assembly also eliminated the “franchise tax,” which was an antiquated tax on the privilege of having a business in Illinois that cost small businesses $50 million every year. Bennett said it will be phased out, with a growing share of the tax liability excluded from the tax starting next year, until 2024 when it will be totally gone.

Bennett also outlined some of the “bad ideas” that were stopped by the General Assembly including: a pension “holiday” Gov. J.B. Pritzker proposed that would have allowed the state to skip a pension payment in order to balance the budget; Senate Bill 1407 which would have imposed a set of wage and regulatory requirements on facilities like ethanol plants or refineries; and a whole series of tax increases which were proposed throughout the spring.

In other business, the Rotary Club approved a $2,000 donation to ShelterBox in the wake of the damage done by Hurricane Dorian.

The club had already been committed to make several donations to the organization, but chose to combine it’s last two payments and donate $2,000.

ShelterBox works with disaster-affected communities to provide the emergency shelter, essential items and training needed to support families in the long process of rebuilding their lives.

Every disaster is different so they have a flexible approach. They listen and learn from the communities we work with to make sure we provide the right support. They often go further, working with hard to reach communities who are overlooked by others.

Before a disaster happens, they make sure they are ready to help. They store aid in strategic locations around the world so they can get it to the families who need it as quickly as possible.

ShelterBox crafts the supplies the offer to the various types of disasters that may affect an area.

For some disaster-hit communities, they provide family-sized tents that are the best solution for families until they are able to start rebuilding their homes. In other disasters, heavy duty tarpaulins, ropes and nails are needed to create emergency shelter or to patch-up damaged buildings.

Sometimes they even include corrugated iron to make resilient roofing, or mattresses to make warehouses habitable – whatever it takes to help people recover from disaster.

Beyond tents and shelters, ShelterBox also offers lights, tools, materials, blankets, clean water, cooking utensils and a variety of items for people in disaster ravaged areas.

To learn more about ShelterBox, visit www.shelterbox.org.