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Legislative update for the week of March 11

by Beth Camplain | Mar 16, 2019
With a month until Spring recess, the House and Senate are focused on moving bills through the committee process.

With a month until Spring recess, the House and Senate are focused on moving bills through the committee process. The Senate deadline is March 22, while the House has until March 29.

Highlights of the week include:

Educator misconduct subject matter hearing
IFT and CTU testified before the House Elementary and Secondary Education Curriculum and Policies Committee this week about a group of bills (HB 222, HB 223, HB 277, and HB 312) that make changes to the laws related to educator misconduct. Union advocates urged the legislature to enhance student safety while maintaining due process rights. It is anticipated the legislature will advance an omnibus bill this session.

House Pensions Committee hears challenges of Tier II
Rep. Martwick (D-Chicago) held a hearing in Springfield to hear testimony from various pension boards for police, fire, local government employees, and teachers on the challenges associated with Tier II pensions. IFT testified about the inadequacy of the benefit, its impact on the teacher shortage, and the possible problems regarding compliance with existing tax law. More hearings on the issue are expected in the weeks ahead.

Fair Tax calculator launches
Governor Pritzker provided additional resources supporting his recent Fair Tax proposal.
Click here and enter a few details in the state’s Fair Tax calculator to see how the plan would affect you.

To enact this Fair Tax, lawmakers must vote to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot in 2020. Lookup your state lawmakers and contact them today to urge their support for the Fair Tax and the future we all deserve!

LGBT history initiative passes House
HB 246 (Moeller, D-Elgin) was approved by the House on a vote of 60-42. This bill would require a portion of public school history courses to include the study of LGBT figures and ensure history books are non-discriminatory. Local school districts would still set the curriculum and have control over when additional subject matter is included.

Senate passes return to work bill for Chicago teachers
SB 1584 (Aquino, D-Chicago) increases by 20 percent the number of days (from 100 to 120) a retired teacher can substitute teach without a pension penalty. If passed, the legislation will add a full month of eligible work opportunities for retired teachers.

Bargaining rights restoration advances
The House Labor and Commerce Committee passed HB 2275 (Conyears-Ervin, D-Chicago) legislation that would restore collective bargaining rights to members of the Chicago Teachers Union, Local 1. In 1995, a Republican controlled General Assembly passed legislation that took away the CTU’s right to bargain over class size, third party contracts, school cleanliness, and staffing levels.

School Consolidation Commission bills advance
Sen. Cullerton (D-Villa Park) and Rep. Mayfield (D-Waukegan) have filed legislation (HB 3053 and SB 1838) that would create a commission to report on possible cost savings that could come with consolidation. Both bills are headed to the full House and Senate for consideration.

Grow Your Own legislation advances
Sen. Martinez moved SB 244 out of the Senate Higher Education Committee this week. The bill would streamline Grow Your Own funding, address the early childhood shortage through a program expansion, create a pilot program at Waukegan High School, and improve the ability of the program to help teacher education candidates remain in the pipeline. This bill is now positioned for final passage in the Senate. An identical bill (HB 35) is on 3rd reading in the House.

Manar advances National Board Certified Teachers bill

SB 1460 (Manar, D-Bunker Hill) seeks to target dollars allocated for National Board Certified Teachers to rural and downstate communities as a way to draw talent. If funding is available, the bill would restore the NBCT incentives available in the past. The Senate Education Committee unanimously advanced the bill. It will now move to the full Senate for consideration.

Solution again proposed for CPPRT reliant districts

SB 1552 (Tracy, R-Quincy) creates a loss of CPPRT hold harmless for schools with when their total revenues reach 13 percent or more. Similar legislation was advanced last year and ultimately included in the FY19 state budget bill. The IFT supports this measure.

Mental Health First Aid Mandate advances
An initiative of the Illinois Association for Behavioral Health, Sen. Koehler (D-Peoria) has introduced SB 1731, a bill that would require professional development training on:
  • Recognizing the signs and symptoms of mental illness and substance use disorders
  • Providing referrals to mental health or substance use disorder services or other support to individuals in the early stages of developing a mental illness or substance use disorder; and
  • Ensuring the safe de-escalation of crisis situations involving individuals with a mental illness. The bill was approved unanimously in committee and now heads to the floor for further consideration.

Senator seeks solutions for look-alike guns and discipline
SB 2124 (Chapin Rose, R-Champaign) adds a number of look-alike guns to the list of objects for which a student shall be expelled from school. The senator spoke about incident in one of his school districts in which the district was unable to expel a student due to lack of clarity in the law.

A look ahead
Next week, both chambers will continue to focus on committee work as the House and Senate committee deadlines approach.

Download the IFT app (Apple or Android) for updates and watch Under the Dome for the latest legislative news.


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