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Springfield Session Week in Review - April 10, 2014

4/10/2014
Lawmakers in both the Illinois House and Senate spent considerable time this week on their respective floors, passing legislation to the opposite chamber for consideration before a two-week hiatus. IFT members should be particularly aware of the following:
 
IFT initiatives
Data privacy extension requested
SB 3092 (sponsored by Sen. William Delgado), a bill that limits personally identifiable information by the Illinois State Board of Education or public schools was not heard in the full Senate this week. IFT’s legislative team drafted an amendment removing almost all opt-in/opt-out language that includes input from stakeholders.
 
Specifically, the amendment includes language recommended by higher education institutions and research organizations and removes all opt-in & opt-out language with the exception of Section (e), which asks for written permission to use personal information for commercial use, marketing products or services, etc. Previous language referring to “opt-in/opt-out” has been changed to “notification.”  The bill was not heard in the Senate this week, and Sen. Delgado has requested a deadline extension.
 
K-2 assessments remains in committee
SB 3460 (sponsored by Sen. Bill Cunningham) prohibits the State Board of Education and school districts from administering assessments to K-2 students for any reason other than diagnostic purposes. The bill remains in the Senate education committee, where it will stay until Sen. Cunningham holds a subject matter hearing on April 25th. IFT will testify in support of the bill. 
 
Testing review committee bill passes House
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 levels, and instructional time lost due to testing. The bill passed the House by a 97-9 vote.

Pensions
Chicago pensions
SB 1922 (sponsored by Sen. Kwame Raoul), Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to overhaul and cut pensions for Chicago municipal workers and laborers, passed both chambers and now goes to Governor Quinn for action. Police, firefighters, and teachers were excluded from the plan. The We Are One Chicago union coalition has called for Gov. Quinn to veto the unfair, unconstitutional legislation and call for renewed discussions between all parties.

Return to work approved
SB 3374 (sponsored by Sen. John Sullivan) allows retired teachers to return to work for more than 100 days per year in subject area shortages without impairing his or her retirement status or annuity. The bill passed the Senate unanimously.

Budget
Sen. Manar rolls out school funding proposal
SB 16 (sponsored by Sen. Andy Manar), a bill intended to change the way schools are funded in Illinois, passed out of Senate Executive Committee this week by a 10-2-2 vote. 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 established in 2013 to conduct a comprehensive review of Illinois’ current K-12 education funding system and make recommendations for a more equitable and adequate system. Some concerns have surfaced pertaining to the special education components of the bill; in response, Sen. Manar continues to work with stakeholders to draft amendatory language.
 
To date, the IFT has not taken a position on the legislation because no report has been issued as to how the changes to the state’s funding formula would impact individual school districts. That information will become available in the coming weeks.

Fair Tax gains new life
Last week, Rep. Christian Mitchell and Sen. Don Harmon held a press conference to introduce HJRCA 49, the Fair Tax Act. The act would give Illinois voters the opportunity to amend the state constitution to allow for a fair tax, with lower rates for lower incomes and higher rates for higher incomes. Sen. Harmon advanced his version of the Fair Tax, SJRCA 40, to third reading in the Senate this week. Religious groups flooded the statehouse this week to march and rally in support of fair tax legislation.
 
Millionaire tax fails to progress
HJRCA 51 (sponsored by Speaker Michael Madigan), which called for a 3 percent surcharge on incomes of more than $1 million stalled, because it faced the inability to garner the 3/5 majority (71) of votes required for passage. HJRCA 51 was expected to raise $1 billion annually for elementary and secondary education, or roughly $550 per student. The money would be distributed to schools based on the number of students they each serve.
 
Testing
ISBE initiated legislation moves forward
SB 3412 (sponsored by Sen. Heather Steans) removes specific references to the Illinois Standard Achievement Test (ISAT) and Prairie State Achievement Examination (PSAE) to allow for new state assessments aligned with new Illinois Learning Standards. The bill passed the Senate by a 32-16-2 vote.

HB 5537 (sponsored by Rep. Barbara Currie) amends the School Code to clarify ISBE’s authority to intervene in failing school districts. It passed the House by a 77-25-8 vote.  

IFT continues to meet with ISBE and other stakeholders to amend both these proposals.
 
Elections
Voting rights referendum approved
HJRCA 52 (sponsored by Speaker Michael Madigan) proposes to amend the Suffrage and Elections Article of the Constitution to provide that no person shall be denied the right to register to vote or to cast a ballot in an election based on his or her race, color, ethnicity, status as a member of a language minority, gender, sexual orientation, or income. It passed the House and Senate this week.

This Constitutional Amendment will be on the ballot in November.
 
Session resumes on Tuesday, April 29 at noon.
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