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Bennett advances measure to promote renewable energy projects in Illinois

Solar PanelsSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) advanced a plan through the Senate this week to help facilitate solar projects statewide.

Senate Bill 211 will allow a State purchasing officer or a State agency to enter in to an energy conversation program or energy savings contract or lease for up to 25 years. Currently, construction agencies can enter renewable energy resource contracts and leases that do not exceed 10 years.

“Everybody shares the same goals of lower energy costs, reduced pollution and more jobs in Illinois, and this bill is a good first step in achieving that,” Bennett said. “Extending the time limit for these contracts will help the solar industry create jobs in Illinois, bring down energy costs and build a homegrown, renewable energy supply in our state.”

The proposal was supported by the University of Illinois, Southern Illinois University and the Environmental Law & Policy Center. In the past, universities have found it difficult to explore solar energy contracts, which are typically longer than the current 10 year limit prescribed in the current law. Bennett’s bill would align with the solar module warranty length and make projects more appealing to universities.

SB 211 passed out of the Senate and moves to the House for Consideration.

Senate approves Bennett’s plan to create agricultural teacher training program

ag ed 032619SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) passed legislation this week to create a hands-on agriculture teacher training program in Illinois high schools.

Senate Bill 1498 would require the Illinois State Board of Education to develop an Agricultural Education Pre-Service Training Program to prepare high school students for a college career aimed at becoming farm sciences teachers.

“The importance of agricultural education spreads further than the classroom,” said Bennett, who chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee. “This program would help students develop problem-solving skills and agricultural literacy they’ll need in order to teach the next generation of farmers how to produce the food we eat, the fuel we use and the fiber in our clothes.”

Bennett measure to add protections to Mahomet Aquifer, ensure water safety

Clean waterSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) advanced legislation this week to strengthen protections for the Mahomet Aquifer, the primary water source for Central Illinois.

Bennett sponsored Senate Bill 2027, which would direct the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to identify potential hazards to groundwater and focus further study on those that pose a hazard to surface water and groundwater resources.

It would also establish the Pekin Metro Landfill Pilot Project to allow for the identification of potential and current threats to the water quality of the Mahomet Aquifer from the landfill.
“After the detrimental impacts of the Peoples Gas Leak, we want to make sure we’re doing everything we can to protect this vital resource,” Bennett said. “This bill will help us ensure that 500,000 people in Central Illinois know the water coming out of their faucets is clean and safe to drink.”

This proposal comes from the legislative recommendations of the Mahomet Aquifer Task Force, established last year to help maintain clean water and determine any action to protect the natural resource.

SB 2027 was approved by the Senate Environment and Conservation Committee and is scheduled for consideration in the Senate.

Bennett moves to protect privacy of sexual assault victims

Senator BennettSPRINGFIELD – A plan by State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) would protect the identifying information of a victim in the middle of a sexual assault investigation.

“Privacy and confidentiality matter for victims of sexual assault,” Bennett said. “In this case, transparency can actually be a barrier to keep people from coming forward about sexual assault. This bill will help maintain confidentiality so that victims have peace of mind while they seek justice.”

Senate Bill 2133 intends to change the definition of “private information” in the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to include the name and any identifying information of a victim in a sexual assault investigation. Currently, the private information of a victim is not protected from private attorneys and media submitting FOIA requests.

As a former prosecutor, Bennett has used his experiences to push for legislation to assist survivors of sexual assault. He is also the sponsor of a 2017 law that eliminated the statute of limitations on sexual crimes against children.

SB 2133 was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee and is scheduled for consideration in the Senate.

Sen. Scott Bennett

Senator Scott Bennett

52nd Senate District

Years served: 2015 - Present

Committee assignments: Agriculture (Chairperson); Appropriations II; Criminal Law (Vice-Chairperson); Higher Education; Labor; State Government; Subcommittee on Capital.

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.

Associated Representatives:
Carol Ammons
Michael T. Marron