SPRINGFIELD – Senate Higher Education Chair Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) moved a plan through the Senate Wednesday to improve the Illinois Higher Education Savings Program.

“This program helps children build a financially secure future from day one,” Bennett said. “This legislation would also give the Illinois treasurer the tools needed to implement the program to help eliminate barriers to families saving for college.”

In 2019, the Illinois Higher Education Savings Program, established as part of the Illinois treasurer’s existing Bright Start and Bright Directions programs, was signed into law. Under this law, the treasurer will automatically deposit $50 into a college savings account for every child born or adopted in Illinois after Dec. 31, 2020.

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04132021CM0480SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Scott Bennett’s (D-Champaign) measure to ensure property tax relief for spouses of veterans with disabilities passed the Senate Revenue Committee Wednesday.

“This tax relief is for military families who have sacrificed so much,” Bennett said. “This measure will ensure a surviving spouse can benefit from this exemption without having to go through a repetitive process.”

Senate Bill 1691 would allow the rights of a veteran applying for a homestead exemption to pass through to his or her spouse if the veteran passes away before the application is completed.

Currently, Illinois offers property tax reductions to disabled veterans and their spouses. However, if the applicant passes away before they have finished applying for the exemption, their spouse must restart the application process from the beginning.

Bennett’s proposed legislation is intended to allow the applicant’s spouse to continue where they left off, allowing them to receive the exemption sooner.

“We have a responsibility to make it as easy as possible for veterans’ families to get the relief they need, especially in these unprecedented times,” Bennett said. “I’m pleased to see this legislation move forward.”

Senate Bill 1691 will now go before the full Senate for a vote.


SPRINGFIELD – On Wednesday morning, State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) joined a press conference alongside State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria), Representative Jay Hoffman (D-Swansea) and Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly to discuss legislation to modernize Firearms Owner Identification cards in Illinois.

“Applications for Illinois FOID cards and concealed carry licenses have been backlogged for more than a year, and my office has received countless calls from constituents asking us to fix this problem so they can be compliant with the law,” Bennett said. “Together, we have formed a solution with the Illinois State Police that would help clear the backlog and speed up application processing.”
Senate Bill 1165, an initiative of the ISP, would create a prohibited persons portal to help law enforcement identify people whose FOID cards have been revoked, create a review board to respond to revocations and denials, and enact other changes to make the application and renewal process more efficient.

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04132021CM0381SPRINGFIELD – Senate Higher Education Committee Chair Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) moved a measure through the Senate Higher Education Committee Tuesday to help students make more informed choices about the loans they take out to pay for college and establish new accountability standards for private loan companies.

“The reward for higher education should not be a lifetime of debt,” Bennett said. “Students and families should be informed if they qualify for federal loans before they turn to private loans and the higher interest rates and fewer repayment options that go with them.”

Bennett introduced the Know Before You Owe Private Education Loan Act, which requires private lenders to confirm with a potential borrower’s school that the student’s tuition, housing and other costs are not covered by other sources of financial aid. Additionally, the legislation requires colleges and universities to notify students about their federal loan eligibility before certifying private loans.

Bennett worked closely with the Illinois attorney general’s office to craft the legislation.

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