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Fall veto session – the good, the bad, and what happens next

11/11/2017
Legislative update 10.11.17

Illinois lawmakers returned to the Capitol this week for the final days of the annual veto session. In total, the House and Senate considered 49 bills that Governor Rauner vetoed in full or in part earlier this year; the Illinois legislature overrode 25 of those, making this one of the worst veto sessions ever for an Illinois Governor. Unfortunately, some key vetoes affecting workers were not overridden.

Here is a brief summary of important action taken this veto session.

Override attempts fail on some worker-related legislation

“Right to work”
The Senate voted to override the Governor’s veto of SB 1905, legislation that would require any law affecting collective bargaining to be enacted only by the General Assembly, not school boards or local governments. The motion to override needed 71 votes in the House and fell just one vote short. Rauner focused all his efforts on stopping this override as part of his obsessive efforts to try to weaken labor unions.

Workers’ compensation insurance fund
The House also came up short in the attempt to override the Governor’s veto of HB 2622. The legislation would have created a not-for-profit insurance fund to help lower workers’ compensation insurance premium costs for employers by creating competition in the insurance industry. The bill was a response to concerns by the Governor and business groups about workers’ compensation costs.

Privatization
The effort to override the Governor’s veto of HB 3216 also failed in the House. The legislation would have prevented the state from privatizing services currently performed by state employees without first meeting rigorous requirements, including proving that a contract with a third-party for services was in the state’s best interest.

Wage gap
HB 2462 would have prohibited employers from asking prospective employees about their wage history. The bill sought to address the wage gap for women and minorities. While the House successfully voted to override, it fell one vote short in the Senate.


Legislature overrides dozens of Rauner vetoes

Lawmakers successfully override many of the Governor’s vetoes, including on the following bills that impact IFT members and all Illinoisans:

HB 2977 requires elementary schools to offer instruction on cursive writing before 5th grade. The bill is effective July 1, 2018 and applicable in 2018-19 school year.
 
HB 3298 allows, under certain circumstances, the application fee for a substitute teacher license to be refunded.

HB 3649 creates the Debt Transparency Act. Advocated by Comptroller Mendoza, the bill requires state agencies to provide an accurate monthly snapshot of Illinois’ debt to help the state better manage it. Until now, state agencies submitted their unpaid bills only once per year. The Governor called the bill an attempt to “micromanage.” The override passed with a solid bipartisan vote.


General Assembly considers other legislation

In addition to attempting to override gubernatorial vetoes, lawmakers considered and/or took action on important measures:

Property taxes
The House Revenue and Finance Committee approved SB 851. The bill is an immediate property tax freeze for several counties in the state and threatens the financial security of school districts by taking away local resources. The full House approved the bill, but the Senate did not take it up.

We thank those who urged your Representatives to oppose the bill. The concurrence motion could be heard next the Senate is in session. Please let your Senators know how this bill would harm your school district’s long term finances, and urge them to let the new school funding formula be implemented before considering this legislation.

Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)
The IFT has supported the Equal Rights Amendment https://www.eraaction.org/illinois since it began in the 70’s, but still our work continues. SJRCA4 is a proposed resolution for a constitutional amendment that would add Illinois to the list of states that support the ERA in the U.S. Constitution. The measure was introduced in the Illinois Senate in February and passed out of Senate Executive Committee. However, there are currently not enough supporters to pass it in the full Senate. Advocates continue their grass roots effort to build support throughout Illinois.

Evidence based school funding
As ISBE prepares to implement the new Evidence Based School Funding model, several hurdles have arisen. SB 444 was introduced to make technical changes to the new funding formula in the areas of Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (PTELL) calculations and Equalized Assessed Valuation (EAV) adjustments. The IFT has taken a neutral position on the bill.

Local elections
SB 225 would provide that, in the case of school board members, township officials, and municipal officials, an elected office does not become vacant if the person previously convicted of an infamous crime received a pardon for the offense, or has completed a court-ordered sentence at least 15 years prior to taking office and has not had another felony criminal conviction during that time. The bill was considered by the House Judiciary-Criminal Committee but no vote was taken.

School discipline improvement plans
SB 453 would change numerous aspects related to school discipline improvements plans, including timing of notification, approval, and submission. The bill also establishes the Safe Schools and Healthy Learning Environments program. The bill was previously approved by the Senate but failed in the House. Watch for it be reintroduced this spring.

Education mandates
HB 1252 would expand the current School Code mandate regarding Civics Education. Last year, a new law was enacted to require high schools to offer a Civics Education course. The amendment to HB 1252 would also requires such instruction to be offered in grades 6-8. The measure passed the House and is pending in the Senate.

HB 1262 would provide that School Code mandate waiver requests about tax rates, funds, or transfers shall not be reviewed by a panel of lawmakers, but instead submitted to the full General Assembly for consideration. HB 1262 passed the House and is also pending in the Senate.


Teacher shortage issue takes the spotlight
The Senate Education Committee held a hearing in Decatur to discuss the shortage of teachers, support personnel, and substitutes in Illinois schools. The issue is expected to be a focus during the spring legislative session.

IFT representatives testified at the hearing, pointing to research that shows the inability to fill positions results from retention problems, not a lack of qualified candidates. Stress, evaluations, student trauma, lack of mentoring and other issues contribute to poor retention rates. IFT representatives also discussed the importance of funding higher education, citing financially paralyzed universities as a hurdle to growing teacher candidates. ISBE continues to push for lower standards to make it easier for out-of-state teachers to obtain licensure in Illinois. We will continue to monitor and speak out on this critical topic.


A look ahead
The House and Senate will return to Springfield in January to continue their work. Watch Under the Dome for the latest updates.


 

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