02272018CM0063SPRINGFIELD – Nearly one-third of Americans today must be licensed by the government in order to do their jobs. As debt levels rise, creditors are taking increasingly tough actions to chase the 44 million people who have outstanding student loans. To prevent that debt from being used to deny professional licenses, State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) introduced a measure today to combat this and protect graduate students from losing their jobs.

“It should be obvious that taking away someone’s job if they fall behind on student loans is counterproductive,” Bennett said. “If you aren’t able to work, you won’t be able to pay back your loans and will sink further into debt.”

Senate Bill 2439, the Career Preservation and Student Loan Repayment Act, will put provisions in place to prevent licensing agencies from denying, revoking, or suspending licenses to individuals with student loan default in 38 professions such as occupational therapists, teachers, structural engineers, home inspectors and real estate agents.

Illinois is currently one of 22 states that have laws in place to suspend professional licenses and certificates in the event an individual must default on their student loans.

“It’s tragic that so many of our graduates have seemingly insurmountable student debt, and of course it’s appropriate to hold people accountable for their loans,” Bennett said. “However, we need to be empowering people to go to work, not taking away their ability to earn a living.”

SB 2439 passed the Licensed Activities and Pensions Committee and will now be considered by the full Senate.

02132018CM0362SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) issued the following statement on the governor’s budget address:

“Once again, I heard very little in the budget address today to make me believe that the governor has come to understand the importance of education and a willingness to turn the tide and stand up for our local schools, colleges and universities.

“His proposed budget only adds financial pressure on schools and universities that have already been starved and endured three years of chaos and uncertainty during the budget stalemate that he created.

“The cost shift all but condemns already resource-strapped schools to raise property taxes, increase tuition costs or eliminate jobs. We need to find a right way forward that doesn’t unload billions of dollars onto our schools and communities.

“Governor Rauner’s proposal also illustrates a complete disregard for educators and the teaching profession. He blatantly attacks retired teachers by gutting their health insurance and nearly doubling the out-of-pocket cost for retirees who generally don’t receive Social Security. We must work toward solutions that fully fund the benefits that our retired teachers have rightfully earned and deserve.”

110917 5780SPRINGFIELD – Senate President John Cullerton has appointed State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) as the new chairman of the Senate Criminal Law Committee.

A graduate of Illinois State University and University of Illinois Law School, Bennett served as a Champaign County Assistant State’s Attorney before being appointed to the State Senate in 2015.

Since arriving in the Senate, Bennett has used his experiences as a prosecutor to push for legislation to assist survivors of sexual assault. He has also led the charge to eliminate statute of limitations on sexual crimes against children.

“I look forward to bringing my experience and expertise as an attorney and former prosecutor to this challenging new role as leader of the Senate Criminal Law Committee,” Bennett said. “You have my commitment that I will fight for policies that ensure safety and justice for families and communities across the state.”

The criminal law committee hears proposed legislation devoted to improving the quality, fairness and effectiveness of the criminal justice system in the state. Last year, the committee passed measures advancing criminal justice reform, curbing gun violence and protecting victims.

Bennett has been serving on the committee for the past three years and is excited about the opportunity to steer and promote fair and essential criminal law policies.

“We’re going to have a lot of critical criminal law bills coming along this year and I think it’s important that we do something that is unusual in Springfield,” Bennett said. “We need to begin to properly study and assess legislation and actually look to experts to see how the laws we pass will affect those in courthouses across Illinois.”

Bennett will continue to serve as vice chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee and will also sit on appropriations, gaming, higher education and labor committees.

02282017CM0572CHAMPAIGN – In order to address the growing social and financial costs of jailing those who await trial, State Senator Scott Bennett will join a commission to investigate possible pretrial reforms in the state’s criminal justice system.

The Champaign Democrat has been appointed to the Illinois Supreme Court’s Pretrial Practices Commission to help conduct a redesign of the system in place to deal with individuals from the time they're arrested until their case is resolved.

“The human and financial costs of pretrial detention are higher than I think we realize,” Bennett said “We must develop the most sensible practices possible to ensure that pretrial detention is serving both the ends of justice and the public interest.”

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