agriculture

SPRINGFIELD – A proposal sponsored by State Senator Scott Bennett will create a hands-on agricultural teacher internship program in Illinois high schools.

Bennett (D-Champaign), who chairs the Senate Committee on Agriculture, passed Senate Bill 1498 through the General Assembly. It requires the Illinois State Board of Education to partner with the Illinois Board of Higher Education to develop an Agricultural Education Pre-Service Internship Program to prepare high school students for a college career aimed at becoming farm sciences teachers.

“Agriculture is the number one industry in Illinois and offers many job opportunities both on the farm and in related agri-businesses,” Bennett said. “The benefits of an agricultural education goes far beyond the classroom. This program will provide students opportunities for leadership development, personal growth and career success.”

Bennett’s legislation also provides grants to teaching students who qualify and attend a university or community college that offer an agricultural education teacher course.

The pre-service teaching program would include an eight-week course that would provide hands-on experience through partnerships with Illinois agricultural companies, focusing on the five career clusters of agricultural education: agricultural business management, agricultural mechanics and technology, horticulture services, agricultural sciences, and natural resources conservation management.

The governor signed the bill into law last week. It takes effect immediately.

Bennett Ext Services

CHAMPAIGN – A new law championed by State Senator Scott Bennett will help provide practical education programs to residents in all 102 counties in Illinois.

“Nearly every community in our state benefits from the University of Illinois’ Extension services,” Bennett (D-Champaign) said. “These programs improve the quality of life of Illinoisans by providing research-based knowledge to strengthen the social, economic and environmental well-being of our families, communities and agricultural industry.”

Bennett, Chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, sponsored House Bill 2264 to require the State to make an annual appropriation for matching funds to the University of Illinois’ Cooperative Extension Services Program. Currently, the state may only provide 50 percent to county funds for the program.

The University of Illinois’ Extension offers education programs in five broad areas, including: energy and environmental stewardship; food safety and security; economic development and workforce preparedness; family health, financial security and wellness; and youth development.

More than 1.5 million Illinois residents take part in Extension programs each year, nearly 200,000 of whom participate in the 4-H program. UI Extension also offers hands-on workshops, field days and online self-paced tutorials.

“The University of Illinois’ Extension services provides information and expertise to help meet local challenges and help every Illinoisan thrive,” Bennett said.

House Bill 2264 was signed into law on Friday. It takes effect immediately.

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SPRINGFIELD – Spouses and children of veterans and active duty service members will soon be able to take advantage of the military service discount program under a law passed by State Senator Scott Bennett.

Bennett (D-Champaign) sponsored Senate Bill 1468 to expand the eligibility for voluntary discount programs currently offered by businesses to veterans and military personnel to include spouses and dependents.

“When our veterans serve, we must not forget that their families are also sacrificing every day that their loved one must forego with them in order to wear the uniform,” Bennett said. “Enhancing this discount program to include their families honors the commitment that our brave servicemen and women and their families make to our country.”

The governor signed the bill into law last week. It takes effect immediately.

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SPRINGFIELD – A new law passed by State Senator Scott Bennett will bolster privacy rights for crime victims in Illinois.

“Victims of crime and their families deserve the right to participate and be heard in the criminal justice system through the use of these powerful impact statements,” Bennett said. “They provide an opportunity for the victim to express, in their own words, what they, their family and others close to them have experienced as a result of the crime. At the very least, it helps provide some measure of closure to the ordeal the crime has caused.”

Bennett’s new law ensures that a crime victim has the right to register with the Prisoner Review Board’s victim registry and to submit a victim impact statement to the Board for consideration at hearings or executive clemency hearings. Impact statements are written or oral information from crime victims, in their own words, about how a crime has affected them.

House Bill 3584 also clarifies that victim impact statements submitted to the Prisoner Review Board are confidential and privileged.

As a former prosecutor and Vice Chairman of the Senate Criminal Law Committee, Bennett has directed his efforts to securing rights, protections and services for victims going through the criminal justice system.

The governor signed HB 3584 into law Friday. It takes effect immediately.

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