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Legislative Update: Week of May 6, 2019

by Jennifer Visk | May 10, 2019
Action on the House and Senate Floor was light this week as today is the deadline for cross-chamber bills to be considered in a committee.
Action on the House and Senate Floor was light this week as today is the deadline for cross-chamber bills to be considered in a committee. The next deadlines are Friday, May 24 (deadline to move bills off the floor) and May 31 (General Assembly’s adjournment). 

An overview of the weeks action:

Efforts focused on House of Representatives to pass Fair Tax
Last week, the Illinois Senate passed SJRCA 1 (Sen. Harmon, D-Oak Park), a measure to put a constitutional amendment for a Fair Tax on the November 2020 ballot. It now must be approved by the House. A Fair Tax would give 97% of Illinois earners some tax relief, while generating $3.4 billion per year in much-needed revenue for public schools, colleges and universities, and public services.

The proposal now needs to be approved by the House. Lawmakers need to hear from you! CLICK HERE TO CALL* now and tell your State Representative to support the Fair Tax and fund the future we all deserve.

Here’s a sample script to use when you call:

Hello, my name is (SAY YOUR NAME) and I’m an IFT member in your district. I’m calling today to urge you to support a constitutional amendment to put a Fair Tax on the ballot in 2020.

As you know, a Fair Tax would give 97 percent of Illinois earners some tax relief, while generating billions of dollars each year for public schools, higher education, and public services. By simply asking the very wealthiest Illinoisans to pay a little bit more, we can make a big difference for everyone in our community.

I urge you to do the right thing and support a Fair Tax. Thank you.

Governor rethinks pension holiday
Gov. Pritzker announced that, due to an unexpected increase in tax receipts in April, he will not be pursuing a plan to delay paying a portion of the state’s pension liability payments. IFT opposed the Governor’s original plan to shortchange pensions, but supports him choosing to direct the extra tax monies to pay down pension debts. 

Capital construction inches forward
Sen. Sandoval (D-Chicago) proposed legislation to increase the state gasoline tax by $0.25 and increase car license and registration fees to bring in an estimated $2.4 billion for capital construction in the state. A similar bill was approved by the House Revenue Committee on Thursday: HB 391 (Rep. Madigan, D-Chicago) would increase the taxes on gasoline, diesel fuel, and electric vehicles, as well as increase fees for car and truck registrations, titles, and driver license fees.

Senate Labor Committee advances graduate assistant unionization proposal
The Senate Labor Committee heard testimony and approved HB 253 (Rep. Guzzardi, D-Chicago and Sen. Fine, D-Glenview) that changes the law so that graduate research assistants are recognized as employees, as teaching assistants are.

Senators support IFT PSRP recall rights 
On a unanimous bipartisan vote, the Senate Education Committee approved HB 921 (Rep. Stuart, D-Collinsville) that establishes recall rights for paraprofessionals and school-related personnel (PSRPs) and ensures that they have the same rights as teachers.

Other legislative action this week
The House and Senate Committees moved several bills through the committee process, including: 

HB 247 (Rep. Carroll, D-Northbrook) requires school districts contracting with a third party for driver education to ensure that the private instructor has a teaching license and is evaluated by the district administrator.

HB 2087 (Rep. Carroll, D-Northbrook) provides that no student may take the entire driver education course through a distance learning program. This change is in response to a recently passed ISBE administrative rule.

HB 2265 (Rep. Lilly, D-Oak Park) requires every public elementary school to include in its 6th, 7th, or 8th grade curriculum at least one semester of civics education. 

SB 10 (Sen. Manar, D-Bunker Hill) increases the minimum teacher salary to $40,000 per year over a five-year period.

SB 456 (Sen. Martinez, D-Chicago) is an omnibus educator misconduct bill that requires a criminal background check of every school employee every five years, requires ISBE to conduct random audits of teachers to determine if they are fulfilling continuing education requirements, and requires ISBE to suspend or revoke a teacher’s license for committing or attempting to commit certain felonies.

SB 1226 (Sen. Holmes, D-Aurora) abolishes the State Charter School Commission and transfers all responsibilities to ISBE.

SB 1601 (Sen. Sims, D-Chicago), regarding the instruction on history of the United States, requires that the course must also include instruction on the history of Illinois.

SB 1731 (Sen. Koehler, D-Peoria) provides that the in-service training on mental health must utilize evidence-based training that educates the participants on recognizing the signs and symptoms of mental illness and substance use disorders.

SB 1746 (Sen. Belt, D-East St. Louis) provides that moneys in the working cash fund may be used by a school board for any and all school purposes and may be transferred in whole or in part to the general funds or both of the school district and disbursed in anticipation of state funding received by the school district.

SB 1798 (Sen. Rose, R-Champaign) requires each school district to create, maintain, and implement an age-appropriate policy on sexual harassment that must be posted on the school district's website.

SJR 41 (Sen. McGuire, D-Crest Hill) passed out of the Senate Higher Education Committee. This resolution directs the Illinois Community College Board and the Illinois Board of Higher Education to establish a joint advisory council to study how Illinois can maximize the number of students completing credit-bearing certificate programs and two-year or four-year degree programs so they can enter into high-skill, high-wage occupations. The joint council will develop a plan to increase those numbers.

A look ahead
The Senate Education Committee is scheduled to meet and hear two bills that IFT supports: HB 254 (Rep. Peters, D-Chicago) and HB 2084 (Rep. Lightford, D-Maywood). HB 254 requires the State Board of Education to make information about actively-employed teachers, pupil-teacher ratios, class instructors by grade level and subject, and class size available online. HB 2084 creates a grant program for school districts that wish to create or expand restorative justice programs; hire school psychologists, social workers, and other mental and behavioral health specialists; provide drug and alcohol treatment services, wraparound services for youth, and training for school staff on conflict resolution and trauma-informed approaches to meeting students’ developmental needs; and other strategies for creating safe and healthy learning environments.

The Government Accountability and Pensions Committee is expected to hear HB 3053 (Rep. Cullerton, D-Villa Park) a bill that would form a consolidation commission tasked with making recommendations for consolidation of at least 25 percent of Illinois School Districts. The IFT opposes HB 3053. 

The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hear HB 3606 (Rep. Aquino, D-Chicago) a bill that requires schools and the State Board to list publicly the types of data they collect and who that data is shared with. It also creates notification procedures for parents and schools if their children’s data is breached. The IFT supports HB 3606. 

The Illinois State Board of Education is scheduled to meet Wednesday, May 15 at 10:30am. 

Watch Under the Dome for additional legislative updates. 



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