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.

04252018CM0114

SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) welcomed 2017 Miss Illinois Abby Foster to the Illinois State Capitol today.

A Danville native, Foster competed in the Miss America beauty pageant last September where she was voted as “America’s Choice” and finished in the Top 15.

“Abby really has done a terrific job as Miss Illinois,” Bennett said. “She is an impressive young woman, a tremendous student and a very involved and visible member of our community. We could not be prouder of how she has represented Danville, Vermilion County and our state.

Foster has spent the past year touring the state of Illinois as an ambassador for Character Counts! and Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

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.

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Office Info

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

Danville Office:
201 N. Vermilion St. Suite 323
Danville, IL 61832
P: (217) 442-5252

Springfield Office:
218-B State House
Springfield, IL 62706
P: (217) 782-2507