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Legislative update 6.26.15

The legislature was back in overtime this week to discuss a number of issues. In the Senate, lawmakers held a Committee of the Whole on minimum wage and paid sick leave. The House debated and passed a measure to privatize the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity (DCEO), the state agency responsible for job creation. They also took their fifth vote on a property tax freeze, which House Republicans rejected, again.

Meanwhile, the stalemate on the most important issue — the state budget — continues. While Governor Rauner did sign a budget bill to fund K-12 education, he vetoed the rest.

Here is a snapshot of legislative highlights from this week:

Rauner signs K-12 budget bill, vetoes the rest
After denouncing the proposal earlier this year, Governor Rauner signed HB 3763, sponsored by Speaker Madigan (D-Chicago). The bill appropriates money for general state aid to K-12 schools around the state and contains funding for early childhood education programs and bilingual education while requiring payments to the teacher pension system.

The governor used his constitutional power to veto the rest of the budget. Lawmakers want to discuss solutions to closing the $3 billion dollar deficit with the governor. Instead, he insists that his anti-middle class reforms must pass prior to finding a solution to the budget.

Senate holds hearing on the minimum wage
In 2014, voters overwhelmingly approved a measure (68 percent in favor) to increase the state’s minimum wage to $10 an hour. Last week, the Illinois Senate held a Committee of the Whole hearing on this issue and paid sick leave. Numerous proponents, including the AFL-CIO, offered comments in support while members of the business community said that another increase in the minimum wage would eat into their profits.

The minimum wage is one of many examples of a divide between Democrats in the legislature and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner --- who says he would agree to a $10 minimum wage ... in 2022, and only if his pro-business agenda passes.

House votes to privatize DCEO, rejects property tax freeze proposal
The House voted on another property tax freeze bill, HB 692 sponsored by Speaker Madigan (D-Chicago), that includes contentious side issues demanded by Gov. Rauner. Just like the previous four property tax freeze proposals, this bill was defeated. Amendment #2 to HB 692, containing the toxic collective bargaining language, failed to get a single "yes" vote. The bill (as amended by Amendment #1) also failed by a vote of 41-21-36.

The House approved HB 547, sponsored by Speaker Madigan (D-Chicago), which privatizes DCEO with a 3-year sunset to examine whether the idea is working. The measure now moves to the Senate for consideration.

AFSCME & Governor’s office to continue negotiations through July 31st
AFSCME Council 31 and the Rauner administration have agreed to extend contract talks for another month, ending the possibility of a strike or lockout during July.

In a joint statement issued Thursday from AFSCME and the Governor's office:
"Today AFSCME Council 31 and the Governor's Office reached an agreement that precludes the possibility of a strike or lockout for a one-month period after the state's collective bargaining agreement with AFSCME Council 31 expires on June 30. This agreement preserves all legal and contractual rights of the parties as of the contract expiration date. More importantly, it allows both sides to continue to negotiate during the month of July without the threat of disruption to important public services."
The Rauner administration is pushing for sweeping changes to the AFSCME Master Contract. With dozens of proposed changes to contract language, pay and benefits on the table, they are aiming to drastically diminish the rights of employees, weaken the role of the union, and drive down the standard of living of families.

The administration and AFSCME 31 are far apart on a full agreement on a new labor contract after more than six months of negotiations. To get a sense of what the administration has been pushing for at the bargaining table, click here.

A look ahead
Next week, the House is scheduled to be in session on Tuesday June 30 and Wednesday July 1. They have scheduled a Committee of the Whole on Government Operations for Wednesday. The Senate has scheduled a Committee of the Whole on Tuesday to discuss Workers' Compensation and the effects of the 2011 Workers' Compensation Reforms.

At this time, it is unknown if the House and Senate plan to take up motions to override the Governor’s veto of the budget or send the Governor an alternative budget plan. 

Visit Under the Dome weekly for the latest updates on legislative action throughout the summer.




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