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Legislative update 5.25.18

by Amy Excell | May 25, 2018
Preparations began in Springfield this week for the final days of spring session before the scheduled adjournment on May 31.
As we kickoff the Memorial Day weekend, preparations began in Springfield this week for what may be the final week of the spring legislative session.

Here is where we the General Assembly stands on some key issues that impact IFT members:
Budget
Talks continued this week with just six days to go before the Illinois General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn. Odds are good that a state budget will be passed by the scheduled end of session on May 31. Negotiators from the four caucuses, known as "budgeteers", report progress, but details of any agreement have yet to surface as legislation.
Pensions
Legislation allowing Illinois pension systems to develop supplementary defined contribution plans has passed both chambers. HB 5137 would provide an option for members of state pension plans to participate in a defined contribution plan at reduced fees compared to what is currently offered by employers. The bill is headed to the Governor’s desk.
Education/School policy
HB 5786 provides that an in-school suspension program provided by a school district for any students in grades K-12 may (rather than shall) focus on promoting non-violent conflict resolution and positive interaction with other students and school personnel. The measure also allows that a school district may employ a school social worker or a licensed mental health professional. This bill has passed the House and awaits a Senate vote.

SB 3249, subject to appropriations and under the textbook block grant program, provides that the textbooks authorized to be purchased must include the roles and contributions of all people protected under the Illinois Human Rights Act and must be non-discriminatory as to all of the characteristics under the Act. The proposal provides that, in public schools only, the teaching of U.S. history shall include a study of the roles and contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in our nation and state. Local school districts may determine the minimum length of the unit of study. This bill has passed the Senate and awaits a House vote. 

SB 3220 provides that a for-profit higher education institution that is denied an initial recommendation for recognition by the State Educator Preparation and Licensure Board may appeal the denial to the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), as provided by rules adopted by ISBE; the proposal also specifies hearing requirements for an appeal when requested by a for-profit institution. The bill awaits a vote in the House. 

HB 5136, an IFT initiative, requires each school district’s Performance Evaluation Review Act (PERA) joint committee to convene at least once per year. The rationale behind the bill is to highlight that evaluation is an ongoing process and that ongoing dialogue between union and management is needed to ensure that the evaluation tool being used is effective and implemented consistently. The bill passed in the House and awaits passage in the Senate. 
State employees
The House passed HB 4290, legislation that appropriates back pay money for public employees. Some state employees, including IFT members in the Illinois Federation of Public Employees (Local 4408) have been owed nearly $60 million in wages since 2011.
Higher education/Graduate employees
SB 2546, a measure that would allow graduate employees of all classifications to unionize, awaits House action. Under current Illinois labor law, research assistants and pre-professional graduate assistants are considered students, not workers, so cannot organize. This bill would allow those graduate assistants to be covered by contracts negotiated by the Graduate Employee Organization/IFT.
Charter schools
HB 5175 was amended this week with language that would create a charter school application process where only locally-elected school boards and parents could decide if a charter school is good for their community. The amendment allows a charter applicant to appeal to the courts under judicial review if it is believed the application review process was not performed as outlined in statute. The Senate approved the proposal; it now heads to the House for consideration.
Women’s rights
HB 1595 amends the Nursing Mothers in the Workplace Act. The bill would allow nursing mothers in jobs like teaching, food service, and nursing to express milk at the workplace without taking sick or personal time. HB 1595 passed the House and Senate unanimously and awaits a concurrence in the House before heading to the Governor’s desk. 
Watch Under the Dome for updates on legislative action in the final days of spring session. 
 

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