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Bennett receives Robert R. McClarren Legislative Development Award

Bennett ILAAwardPEORIA – The Illinois Library Association presented State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) with the Robert R. McClarren Legislative Development Award at their annual conference on Tuesday.

The award is given to a worthy recipient from the Illinois library community who has contributed significantly to legislative development in Illinois.

“Serving a broad constituency, Bennett has balanced political ideology with the needs and opinions of his constituents,” said the Illinois Library Association’s release. “In his short time in the legislature, he has shown himself to be a strong supporter of education and library issues.”

Bennett announces $215,000 in State construction funding for Parkland College

bennett 040318CHAMPAIGN – More than $215,000 in funding has been released to Parkland College to update and repair campus buildings, State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) announced Friday.

“Parkland College is an integral part of the community here in Champaign,” Bennett said. “This investment will help Parkland continue to provide a safe and secure environment for students and faculty.”

The capital funds will go to the construction of an addition to the student services center and other improvements throughout campus. The two projects, totaling $215,000, will maintain and update infrastructure.

“Nothing is more important that the health and safety for our students, and I will continue to advocate for funding so that we can provide the learning environments they deserve,” Bennett said. “I’m thrilled that Parkland received these funds from the State and can help maintain an educational environment that will help students achieve the best opportunity for success.”

The General Assembly approved the Fiscal Year 2019 capital budget in May. It includes more than $100 million to address the needs of higher education facilities to complete ongoing construction projects and begin new ones.

New Bennett law protects student loan borrowers from losing professional licenses

bennett 053018SPRINGFIELD – Student loan borrowers will now have protections in place to help them keep their professional licenses as they work to pay off their debt, thanks to a new law passed by State Senator Scott Bennett.

Bennett (D-Champaign) worked with Attorney General Lisa Madigan to pass Senate Bill 2439, which removes from Illinois law provisions that allow an individual’s professional license to be taken away if they are behind on their student loan payments. 

“There are many things we can do to collect debt for student loans, but taking away someone’s job should never be an option,” Bennett said. “This new law protects licensed professionals from becoming trapped in insurmountable debt.”

The Career Preservation and Student Loan Repayment Act puts provisions in place to prevent licensing agencies from denying, revoking, or suspending licenses to individuals with student loan default in 38 professions such as occupational therapists, teachers, structural engineers, home inspectors and real estate agents.

“For many people, the reward of a fulfilling career is what makes an investment in higher education worth it,” Bennett said. “I am glad that we are now able to protect that investment and ensure that borrowers can stay current on their payments – instead of severely punishing them when they fall behind.” 

The governor signed the law this week. It takes effect immediately.

Bennett bill increases support for local tourism

bennett 053018Local tourism groups will get some state funding to help cover overhead under a new law passed by State Senator Scott Bennett.

House Bill 4757 reduces the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunities' ability to reserve and use 10 percent of local tourism funds for administrative costs to three percent.

“We all know how valuable our local tourism programs are, especially in Illinois’ bicentennial year,” said Bennett (D-Champaign). “This new law is a great opportunity to get some more funds into local tourism groups to help better promote our communities as destinations and bring money back to Illinois.”

The DCEO used the 10 percent of the revenue from the Hotel Operators Occupation Tax for the operational costs of local tourism programs. However, due to the to the state’s backlog of unpaid bills, the Comptroller has not been sending out the full payments, causing local tourism groups to make cuts in their budget. 

Bennett said that this has harmed local tourism groups such as Visit Champaign County and others, which have been forced to cancel events, cut advertisements, leave positions unfilled and send fewer people out on the road to promote their cities.  

“Illinois has so much to offer,” Bennett said. “I am glad that we are now getting that money into local hands where it can be better spent.”

The governor signed the law Friday, and takes effect immediately.

Sen. Scott Bennett

Senator Scott Bennett

52nd Senate District

Years served: 2015 - Present

Associated Representatives: Carol Ammons; Chad Hays

Committee assignments: Agriculture; Appropriations II; Criminal Law; Gaming; Higher Education; Labor.

Biography: Bennett grew up in Gibson City, where four generations of his family worked on their family farm. He moved to Champaign-Urbana to attend law school at the University of Illinois after graduating from Illinois State University.