05012018CM0406SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is working with Attorney General Lisa Madigan to protect student loan borrowers from losing professional licenses as they work to pay off their debt.

Senate Bill 2439 would prevent Illinois licensing agencies that regulate 38 professions from denying, revoking or suspending licenses to individuals who are in default on their student loans. The measure passed out of the Senate today.

“There are many things we can do to collect debt for student loans, but taking away someone’s livelihood is counterproductive, to say the least,” Bennett said. “This bill will end this punitive practice and protect licensed professional from becoming trapped in insurmountable debt.”

Under the current law, state officials reserve the right to suspend or revoke a person’s occupational license for defaulting on student loan payments. Teachers, dieticians, marriage and family therapists, veterinarians and engineers are among the dozens of occupations affected by this law.

Illinois is one of 19 states that revoke licenses due to student loan debt. Additionally, more than 60 percent of Illinois’ four-year college graduates from the class of 2016 had college debt, according to the Institution for College Access and Success.

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

SB 2439 passed with bipartisan support and will now move to the House for consideration.

04262018CM0203SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Scott Bennett’s (D-Champaign) measure to address the sale of counterfeit airbags was approved by the Senate this week.

Senate Bill 560 increases the penalty for fitting a car with any device instead of an airbag from a Class A Misdemeanor to a Class 4 Felony. A Class A Misdemeanor is punishable by up to 364 days in the county jail, whereas a Class 4 Felony is punishable by one to three years in the Illinois Department of Corrections and up to two-and-a-half years of probation.

“This measure is a step in the right direction to cracking down on organized criminals who are selling dangerous counterfeit airbags to consumers and suppliers with little to no regard to their deadly consequences,” Bennett said. “Increasing the penalty will deter criminals from selling these defective devices.”

Bennett said that due to the significant cost of modern airbags, their design and the technology involved in making them, scammers have taken to producing counterfeit and/or nonfunctional airbag replacements. These products often go unnoticed because airbags are only opened in the event of a collision.

“Airbags are critical in helping to protect drivers and passengers,” Bennett said. “We need to make sure that everyone has the appropriate equipment that meets proper safety standards to keep them safe in the event of a crash.”

SB 560 passed with bipartisan support and will now move to the House for consideration.

030118 KS 1403SPRINGFIELD – People with certain criminal convictions on their record would be banned from working at a carnival, amusement park or fair under a new measure by State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign).

Senate Bill 3240 will allow the Department of Labor to penalize and fine a person, firm, corporation or other entity that owns or operates a carnival, amusement park or fair that fails to conduct a criminal history check. The measure passed out of a Senate committee this week.

“Families go to fairs and carnivals to enjoy themselves and have fun,” Bennett said. “This bill ensures that members of our community can feel safe and protected doing just that.”

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04052018CM0141SPRINGFIELD – Currently, there is no federal constitutional provision that expressly guarantees equal rights to women and men. Today, State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) voted to change that.

Bennett co-sponsored Senate Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 4 (SJRCA 4), which would ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the United States Constitution. It would shield the guarantee in the Constitution that a woman’s rights are equal to a man’s and shall not be denied or abridged.

“I am proud to be a sponsor of this monumental legislation,” Bennett said. “Ratifying the ERA isn’t merely symbolic or only a woman’s issue. This is a necessary measure for Illinois to take to guarantee equality under the law for both men and women.”

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