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The third attempt proved to be the charm for a bill sponsored by state Sen. Scott Bennett that eliminates the state's ability to pull the license of a professional who falls behind on student-loan payments.

It took three tries, some attention from a national publication and the help of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, but state Sen. Scott Bennett, D-Champaign, finally got some common-sense legislation passed that should help some Illinoisans pay off their student loans.

Gov. Bruce Rauner signed Bennett's measure, the Career Preservation and Student Loan Repayment Act, on Tuesday.

The new law prevents the state from denying, suspending or revoking the license of a professional who falls behind on student-loan payments. There are 38 such professions in the state, including attorneys, physicians, structural engineers and real-estate agents, and nearly 25 percent of all Illinoisans need a license to work in their fields, according to a Brookings Institution report.

When he pushed the legislation in 2016, Bennett called the current law nonsensical because it took away a borrower's best chance of paying off a student loan.

"To me, the idea that they would lose the ability to work and still be expected to pay those debts is counterintuitive," he said.

The legislation stalled in the Illinois House that year but passed this time with just three "no" votes. Bennett attributed the change to favorable coverage in the Wall Street Journal and the support of Madigan — quite the bipartisan combination.

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