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Springfield Session Week in Review - April 4, 2014

Both the Illinois House and Senate spent significant time this week on their respective floors, passing legislation to the opposite chamber for consideration. Below are items that IFT members should be aware of.

IFT Initiatives
House deadline approaches for data privacy bill
IFT continues to work with concerned stakeholders on SB 3092 (sponsored by Sen. William Delgado). No decisions have been made on how to move forward yet. Next week is the deadline to move Senate bills over to the House. 
Testing review committee
HB 5330 (sponsored by Rep. Linda Chapa-Lavia) requires the formation of a committee to study the cost, number of assessments at the state and district level, and time lost from instructional time to testing. The committee includes teachers, parents, school board members, an early childhood educator, and other stakeholders.
IFT reached an agreement with ISBE this week and an amendment has been filed. We anticipate this measure passing the House next week.

No action on Chicago pensions
Both the House and Senate failed to act on Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to overhaul city pensions for municipal workers and laborers. Police, firefighters, and teachers were excluded from the proposed plan which would have required current employees to pay more and retirees take a COLA cut, as well as raised property taxes for all Chicagoans.

IMRF 13th check legislation tabled
HB 3898 (sponsored by Rep. Deborah Conroy), legislation that would eliminate the IMRF 13th check for Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF) employees, was tabled this week by the sponsor. The IFT’s quick response on this piece of legislation was instrumental in its defeat. Thank you to everyone who assisted in this effort!  

Felony convictions/suspended annuity
HB 5816 (sponsored by Rep. Darlene Senger) adds felony convictions to the list of offenses by which an annuity can be suspended. An amendment has been filed that does not address some of our concerns, so IFT will continue discussions with the sponsor.
SURS members can return to work
SB 2887 (sponsored by Sen. Daniel Biss), legislation to allow annuitants under the State Universities Retirement System (SURS) to return to work if their annuity is less than $10,000, passed the Senate by a 39-8 vote. The bill now moves to the House for further consideration. The IFT supports this measure.

Sen. Manar rolls out school funding proposal
Sen. Andy Manar introduced a new proposal, SB 16, that would change the way schools are funded in Illinois. The plan would streamline the current funding structure into a single formula that would account for school district variables and students’ needs. The proposal is the result of the Education Funding Advisory Council (EFAC), a panel put together last year to conduct a comprehensive review of the current K-12 education funding system in Illinois and making recommendations for a more equitable and adequate system. IFT supports this effort.

Fair Tax has new life
An original proposal to create a fair tax, HJRCA 33 (sponsored by Rep. Naomi Jakobsson), failed in the House Revenue Committee by a 3-6 vote. However, Rep. Christian Mitchell and Sen. Don Harmon held a press conference this week to introduce a new bill, HJRCA 49 - the Fair Tax Act, which would give Illinois voters the opportunity to amend the Constitution to allow for a fair tax, with lower rates for lower incomes and higher rates for higher incomes. The companion legislation is identical to SJRCA 40 (sponsored by Sen. Don Harmon).
Business tax hike fails in House
Legislation (HB 390, sponsored by Rep. Monique Davis) that sought to raise $445 million from corporations, failed by a 49-65 vote. The bulk of the money, $320 million, would have come from a tax on dividends.

Charter Schools
Virtual charter school moratorium extension
Illinois’ moratorium on virtual charter schools expired on April 1, 2014. HB 3937 (sponsored by Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia) extends the moratorium on the establishment of charter schools with virtual-schooling components in school districts other than Chicago through December 31, 2017. The bill passed the House by a 87-27 vote and now moves to the Senate for further consideration. The IFT supports this measure.

Opt-in/Opt-out of health insurance
SB 2641 (sponsored by Sen. Terry Link), legislation that would allow retirees in state pension systems to opt in and out of the state retiree health insurance on an annual basis, passed the Senate unanimously. The bill now moves to the House for further consideration. IFT supports the legislation.

Session resumes on Tuesday, April 8.




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