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Shortage of agriculture education teachers to be studied: Bennett

bennett 052517SPRINGFIELD – A shortage of trained teachers for agricultural classes in schools may soon have a solution under legislation signed by the governor today. The governor signed the bill at the Illinois State Fair’s annual Agriculture Day.

Despite the fact that 25 percent of jobs in Illinois are related to agriculture, there is a shortage of trained agriculture teachers.

State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) sponsored Senate Bill 1991 to try and address this problem.

“Agriculture and downstate Illinois are inseparable,” Bennett said. “We must recruit and retain qualified educators who want to teach agriculture programs for future generations.”

SB 1991 creates the Agriculture Education Shortage Task Force, which will make recommendations on recruiting and retaining agriculture education teachers and making reforms to current licensure and testing requirements.

The final report will be released no later than January 1, 2019. Members of the task force will serve voluntarily and will not be compensated with taxpayer money.

GOP budget cuts retired teachers’ health insurance

Sen. Scott BennettSPRINGFIELD – Health insurance programs for retired teachers will be cut in the so-called “Capitol Compromise” according to the Illinois Retired Teachers Association. The budget makes a 30 percent cut to the Teachers Retirement Insurance Program, also known as TRIP.

State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign), who opposes the cuts to the program, issued the following statement:

“Cutting insurance benefits for retired teachers is not the right way to balance the budget. Not only is it extremely unfair, it is potentially unconstitutional and will just lead to more litigation instead of a long-term solution for fixing our finances.”

Schools could give housing assistance to homeless students

Homeless youthSPRINGFIELD – School districts will now be allowed to help students who are homeless or are at risk of becoming homeless under a plan passed the Illinois Senate.

Under House Bill 261, schools will have the option to use their own transportation funds to provide housing assistance to students in need if they determine it will be more cost-efficient.

State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is the legislation’s sponsor in the Senate.

“This legislation allows schools to take steps to use existing funds to help these students add some stability to their lives,” Bennett said. “A student whose family is going through tough circumstances should be able to stay in their school, which will provide stability.”

Pre-existing conditions covered under Illinois legislation

Chest scanSPRINGFIELD – Health insurance companies will still be required to cover pre-existing conditions under new legislation passed by the Illinois Senate.

After the U.S. House of Representatives passed new healthcare legislation, many feared that insurance providers would no longer be required to cover pre-existing conditions.

State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is House Bill 2959’s chief co-sponsor.

Sen. Scott Bennett

Senator Scott Bennett

52nd Senate District

Years served: 2015 - Present

Associated Representatives: Carol Ammons; Chad Hays

Committee assignments: Agriculture; Appropriations II; Criminal Law; Gaming; Higher Education; Labor.

Biography: Bennett grew up in Gibson City, where four generations of his family worked on their family farm. He moved to Champaign-Urbana to attend law school at the University of Illinois after graduating from Illinois State University.