02.26.2020 UI RallySPRINGFIELD – Alumni and students from the University of Illinois System rallied behind State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) in support of higher education in Springfield Wednesday.

More than 200 alumni and students from the University of Illinois System traveled to the Capitol to participate in their annual advocacy day, which included a rally with University of Illinois caucus members.

This event gives students and alumni the opportunity to show their support for higher education legislation and issues, as well as learn about the legislative process.

Bennett was one of several speakers at the rally, where he expressed his support for Gov. JB Pritzker’s budget proposal as it focused on college affordability and aims to progress funding for state colleges and universities.

“Making college affordable for all Illinois students has always been a top concern of mine as well as my colleagues in the Illinois General Assembly,” Bennett, a member of the Senate Higher Education Committee, said at the rally. “The price tag of a college education is prohibitive for too many students – our students are our future, and higher education needs to remain a priority.”

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SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) advanced a measure through the Senate Education Committee Tuesday to allow a student’s parent to exempt them from school active shooter drills.

The legislation is in response to recent news regarding the effects active shooter drills in schools have on young children. It seeks to reduce the associated psychological effects by granting parents the authority to exempt students from the drill.

“While I support training for school staff and students, it’s critical that we take additional precautions for these drills, as fear of school shootings has intensified,” Bennett said. “These drills can sometimes be confusing for young students and psychologically distressing – if the circumstances permit, a parent should have the ability to opt their child out of a school shooter drill.”

Under current law, schools must conduct an annual active shooter drill within the first 90 days of school and only school administrators are allowed to exempt certain students from the drill.

To improve these drills, the National Association of School Psychologists and the National Association of School Resource Officers recommends schools develop a communications plan that gives all participants advance warning and the ability to opt out and provide feedback. It is also recommended that parents have advanced notice of the drill.

Studies also show that devoting resources to schools to help identify kids at risk from possibly becoming violent themselves is vital in keeping our kids safe. Bennett mentioned he would like that to be a part of the conversation during committee.

Senate Bill 3222 cleared committee 15-0. It will now go before the entire Senate.

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SPRINGFIELD – A measure sponsored by State Senator Scott Bennett clarifying Illinois’ complex court fee system cleared the Senate State Government Committee Wednesday.

The proposal, Senate Bill 2557, specifies funds collected by county clerks from fees, assessments and fines are to be transferred to the State Treasurer to be deposited into the appropriate fund.

“The purpose of this legislation is to ensure court fines and fees are streamlined so that it’s easier for the clerks to administer,” Senator Bennett (D-Champaign) said. “This bill creates a more coherent system that will increase efficiency.” 

According to the Illinois State Police (ISP), a proponent of the legislation, some County Clerks across the state have been sending funds from court fines and fees directly to ISP instead of the State Treasurer to be deposited into the proper ISP fund. This requires ISP to remit these funds to the State Treasurer to be deposited in the appropriate fund instead of County Clerks sending directly to ISP.

If this measure continues forward, it would also extend the sunset date of the fines and fees reforms made under PA 100-987 to Jan. 1, 2021 to Jan. 1, 2025.

Bennett’s proposal passed the committee 8-0 and heads to the Senate Floor.

Bennett2015cSPRINGFIELD – Following Gov. JB Pritzker’s budget address Wednesday, State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) expressed his support of the governor’s plans to progress funding for state colleges and universities.

Pritzker’s proposal built on the progress that Illinois has made over the past year. Senator Bennett, who is best known for his efforts to make higher education more accessible, was thrilled to hear the governor prioritize college affordability.

“If we want to continue to grow as a state, we need to continue to make investments in opportunities for our children,” Bennett said. “The governor’s budget proposal focuses on keeping our best and brightest in Illinois.”

The governor’s proposal increases Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants, which provides financial assistance to Illinois residents who attend approved Illinois colleges. The proposed budget also continues investing in innovative research facilities through Discovery Partners Institute and Illinois Innovation Network.

In addition, the budget offers proactive solutions to our inherited debts by proposing to proactively stabilize College Illinois! – a prepaid tuition program that was established to make college accessible and affordable for Illinois students and families.

“I’ve always believed that higher education is the best and smartest investment that a state can make,” Bennett said. “I look forward to working toward a budget that achieves stability and certainty for the University of Illinois, Parkland College and Danville Area Community College.”

Wednesday’s proposed budget is the beginning of the fiscal process, not the end. Bennett looks forward to bipartisan negotiations this session to construct a balanced budget to provide stability and functionality for the state.

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