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Legislative update 10.23.15

10/23/2015
The House and Senate returned to Springfield this week after spending the last few weeks in their district offices. The House held hearings on the FY16 budget, a Teacher’s Retirement System pension report, and State Superintendent Tony Smith’s contract, as well as convened a Committee of the Whole to take testimony on funding for fire prevention and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

Here are the highlights of this week’s action:

Lobbying for higher education funding
Over 200 students from universities around the state lobbied lawmakers to voice their support for Monetary Assistance Program (MAP) grant funding. Members of the University Professionals of Illinois, IFT Local 4100, amplified the student-led effort by calling on faculty to contact their legislators to support adequate higher ed funding. Governor Rauner continues to hold the state budget hostage to his obsessive anti-union demands, so colleges and universities remain unfunded for FY16.


Bill introduced to elect City Colleges board of trustees

Rep. Robert Martwick (D-Chicago) introduced HB4312, a measure that would provide for the election of a City College Board of Trustees, which is currently appointed by the mayor of Chicago. The first election would take place in April, 2017. The Cook County College Teachers Union, IFT Local 1600, has initiated a campaign "Keep Community in our Community Colleges" to help promote passage of this important bill.


Bill would require transparency, planning to close schools

SB2183, sponsored by Sen. Mike Hastings (D-Matteson), would require a school board which votes to approve a school closure to first follow specific procedures related to transparency, public outreach, financial planning, and more. The bill would be effective upon becoming law. SB2183 would apply only to districts outside of Chicago.


IFT lobbies for quality health care for kids

IFT members were among the registered dental hygienists who lobbied the Illinois Senate on Tuesday, expressing their opposition to Amendment #2, HB500, which would allow unlicensed, unqualified dental assistants to provide oral health care services to children living in poverty. The measure would unfairly reduce the quality of care provided to children most in need. The Illinois Dental Hygienists Association (IDHA) is an IFT affiliate partner.


New chair named to key House committee

Rep. Fred Crespo (D-Streamwood) has been named the chairman of the House Education Curriculum and Policies Committee. Crespo also chairs the Appropriations – General Services Committee. He replaces former Rep. Esther Golar, who passed away last month.


Committee re-examines state superintendent’s pension perk

The House State Government Committee, chaired by Rep. Jack Franks (D-Woodstock), held a hearing Tuesday regarding the compensation package for Illinois State Board of Education Superintendent Dr. Tony Smith. At issue is a perk in Smith’s contract which provides an $11k annual stipend to offset his lesser Tier 2 pension plan contribution. Rep. Franks said the stipend appears to “step around” the spirit of the Tier 2 plan, which was enacted for all new teachers hired beginning Jan. 1, 2011. Additional hearings on the issue are expected to be conducted.


House votes on tax freeze and collective bargaining

Rep. John Bradley (D- Marion) brought forward HB686, House Amendment #1, a measure which would freeze property taxes for two years. The amendment was adopted by a vote of 43-24-18. House Amendment #2 to HB686, a measure to eliminate certain subjects of collective bargaining and eliminate prevailing wage on certain projects, was resoundingly rejected by a vote of 1-77-8. HB686 now includes the property tax freeze amendment and moves to third reading.


Senate sends civics trailer bill Governor

The Illinois Senate approved a measure allowing a gradual phase-in of a recently signed law mandating civics classes in all high schools. HB800 is a trailer bill to PA 99-434 (Conroy-D, Villa Park & T. Cullerton-D, Villa Park). The trailer bill changes the effective date for the civics education requirement to July 1, 2016 instead of immediately to ensure that current high school students are not penalized.


Bill would increase federal funding for career and technical education

Sen. Sue Rezin (R-Peru) filed SB2188, a measure to appropriate almost $40 million for state career and technical education (CTE). This appropriation allows Illinois to meet federal maintenance of effort requirements and remain eligible to keep the more than $60 million in federal funds available to the state annually for CTE.


Speak out about changing the leadership of Chicago Public Schools

Chicago teachers, parents and concerned citizens, lawmakers want to hear from you about changing the leadership of the Chicago Public Schools from an appointed to an elected school board. Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) will hold a town hall meeting to discuss the issue on Thursday, November 12 from 7-9 p.m.

Click here for details and plan to attend!

Both chambers are scheduled to return to Springfield on November 10.
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