05182018CM0162SPRINGFIELD – Legislation to honor two officers and a civilian killed in a gunfight in 1979, along with another officer wounded in the battle, was adopted by the General Assembly this week.  

State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) sponsored House Joint Resolution 21, which designates the overpass where Ford County Road 200 North crosses Interstate 57 South of Paxton as the McCarter-Caisse-Vice-Hale Memorial Overpass.

“I am very proud to sponsor this legislation,” Bennett said. “Even though their service and sacrifice occurred years ago, time should not diminish the impact of their deaths and the importance of their lives.”

On April 7, 1979, the three officers and one civilian were involved in a gunfight with members of a Michigan family after a traffic stop on I-57 south of Paxton.

Illinois State Police Trooper Michael McCarter, Paxton Police Department Patrolman William Caisse and civilian, Donald Vice, were shot and killed. Larry C. Hale of the Paxton Police Department was wounded.

“I am very glad that there is now a memorial to honor these brave men who gave their lives protecting our community,” Bennett said. “My hope is that this memorial will inspire future generations of dedicated public servants as they serve and sacrifice.”

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DANVILLE – State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is excited to announce that families in Danville will soon be able to enjoy a new bicycle and pedestrian trail.

The City of Danville was awarded $1.6 million through the Illinois Department of Transportation’s Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program forthe Denmark Road bicycle and pedestrian path.

“This is a great opportunity to expand recreational offerings in Danville,” Bennett said. “Not only do shared-use trails enhance the quality-of-life in our communities, bicycle-friendly and walkable cities often create positive economic impact as well.”

The $1.6 million investment will be used to construct sidewalks, add bicycle lanes and improve lighting along Denmark Road coinciding with the sanitary improvements there and on Old Ottawa Road.

BennettSPRINGFIELD – Local tourism groups will get some state funding to help cover overhead under a plan by State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) that passed the Illinois Senate this week.

Senate Bill 2899 would reduce the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunities (DCEO) ability to reserve and use 10 percent of the 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. “This bill 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.”

Under current law, DCEO uses 10 percent of the revenue from the Hotel Operators Occupation Tax for the operational costs of local tourism programs. However, due to 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, Danville Area Convention and Visitors’ Bureau 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.  

“These are small things that add up over the course of a fiscal year that impede our ability to showcase Illinois as a true tourist destination,” Bennett said. “We have so much to offer and right now, we need to focus on getting that money out of Springfield and into local offices where they can do the most good.”

SB 2899 passed with bipartisan support and will now move to the House for consideration.

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.

 
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Office Info

Champaign Office:
45 E. University Suite 206
Champaign, IL 61820
P: (217) 355-5252

Danville Office:
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Danville, IL 61832
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Springfield, IL 62706
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