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Legislative Highlights

Updated: Apr 12

The Illinois legislature is nearing the halfway point of the second year of the 103rd General Assembly. Last Friday marked the committee deadline for the House, and two weeks before (March 15) was the committee deadline in the Senate. A few bills have received deadline extensions, but the majority of action in the originating chamber should be wrapped up by April 12 (Senate Third Reading Deadline) and April 19 (House Committee deadline).

Appropriations Committees will continue to take testimony on Fiscal Year 2025 budget requests for the next few weeks.

House Speaker Chris Welch announced the formation of the Teacher Shortage Working Group, which will focus on devising strategies to recruit and retain qualified educators to fill vacancies across the state. Several bills have been introduced as independent initiatives to address the teacher shortage. The chair of the working group, Rep. Katie Stuart, says that her hope is to tackle the issue holistically.

Updates on bill action the past few weeks include:

K12 Education

Paid Student Teaching Effort Moves Forward

In an effort to strengthen and diversify the teacher pipeline, Rep. Barbara Hernedez (D-Aurora) passed HB 4652 out of committee, ensuring that all student teachers receive fair compensation for their labor. Subject to appropriations, HB 4652 calls for stipends of $10,000 for a semester for students and up to $2,000 per semester to eligible cooperating teachers for up to 2 consecutive semesters per academic year, plus additional funds to pay the direct costs of operating the stipend program. Student teaching requires candidates to do the work of a full-time teacher, which severely limits their ability to stay gainfully employed. Student teaching is a significant financial stressor that deters some students from pursuing a degree in education. HB 4652 is on 2nd Reading in the House.

Addressing Bias in Chicago Teacher Evaluations

Rep. Kam Buckner (D-Chicago) passed HB 5318 out of committee. The bill requires educator evaluations to be renegotiated if there is demonstrated bias in ratings. University of Chicago research shows that Black and Latina educators received lower ratings not because of their skill, but because the students they serve had higher needs, including greater poverty, more English learners, and more special education students. Tenured Black teachers have the same ratings on average as untenured White teachers. HB 5318 is designed to fix this inequity. HB 5318 is on 2nd Reading in the House.

Teacher Plan Time

Former educator, Rep. Katie Stuart (D-Collinsville), introduced and passed HB 3907 out of committee. The bill will allow all educators to have daily continuous and uninterrupted individual classroom planning time. It provides that the planning period shall be equal to one class period, but no less than 45 minutes in duration. HB 3907 is on 2nd Reading in the House.

Fentanyl Health Education

Rep. Barbara Hernandez (D-Aurora) passed HB 4219 out of committee to strengthen fentanyl health education beginning in the 2025-26 school year. The legislation provides that in at least one unit in the State-required health courses for grades 6 through 8, a school district shall provide instruction, study, and discussion on the dangers of fentanyl. HB 4219 is on 2nd Reading in the House.

Limits on Student Testing in Grades K-6

Rep. Sue Scherer (D-Decatur), a former educator, passed HB 4955 out of committee, as amended. The bill would restrict the State Board of Education to funding any standardized assessment or test any students in grades Kindergarten through 6 beyond the requirements of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act and encourage ISBE to seek federal testing waivers.

Accelerated Placement Changes

Rep. Carol Ammons (D-Champaign) passed HB 5250 out of committee. It provides that school districts will establish policies by no later than the beginning of the 2027-28 school year which provide the option, in the following school term, for a student to enroll in the next most rigorous level of advanced coursework offered by their high school if the student meets state standards in English language arts, mathematics, or science on a state assessment. (Currently, students who meet OR exceed state standards are accelerated into the next highest course). HB 5250 also provides that a school district's accelerated placement policy may allow for the waiver of a course or unit of instruction completion requirement if (1) completion of the course or unit of instruction is required by the Code or rules adopted by the State Board of Education as a prerequisite to receiving a high school diploma and (2) the school district has determined that the student has demonstrated mastery of or competency in the content of the course or unit of instruction. HB 5250 is on 2nd Reading. An identical bill - SB 3553 (Lightford, D- Hillside) -was approved in the Senate Education Committee and is on 2nd reading.

School Guidelines for Tick Removal

In an effort to increase Lyme disease awareness and ensure proper medical care, Rep. Dan Swanson (R-Woodhull) passed HB 4274 out of committee. It requires the Illinois Department of Public Health, in consultation with the Illinois State Board of Education, to develop and issue guidelines for nurses and other school personnel regarding the removal of ticks from students and the safe storage of the insects for testing. HB 4274 is on 2nd Reading in the House.

Unpaid Fee Fairness for Students

Rep. Joyce Mason (D-Gurnee) introduced and passed out of committee HB 4577 that prohibits public high schools from punishing or penalizing a student because of an unpaid balance on the student's school account.

Adult Guardianship Records Access

Rep, Suzanne Ness (D-Carpentersville) passed HB 5275 out of committee. It expands the definition of “student permanent record” to include reports of psychological evaluations, including information on intelligence and personality, academic information obtained through test administration, observation, or interviews, elementary and secondary achievement-level test results, special education records, and records associated with a plan developed under Section 504 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973. HB 5275 has moved to the House Floor.

Cardiac Emergency Response Plans

Rep. Laura Faver Dias (D-Grayslake) passed HB 5394 out of committee. It would require school districts, beginning with the 2024-25 school year, to develop a cardiac emergency response plan that addresses the appropriate use of school personnel to respond to incidents involving an individual experiencing sudden cardiac arrest or a similar life-threatening emergency while at a school or at a school-sponsored activity or event. HB 5394 is on 2nd Reading in the House.

Strengthening Supports for Students Experiencing Homelessness

Illinois school districts identified over 58,000 students experiencing homelessness in the 2022-23 school year. However, almost that many students - an estimated 55,000 more - students experiencing homelessness have not been identified. Illinois has a companion funding program mirroring the federal program, which is set to expire this year. As a result, Rep. Michelle Mussman (D-Schaumburg) introduced and passed HB 5407 as amended to expand the Illinois program. The grants shall be awarded to applicant school districts based on the percentage of students experiencing homelessness in that district. The state can better support students with a program that has proven successful, allowing school districts to identify ways that best provide help understanding that homelessness looks different throughout the state and being permitted to implement programs that work best for the community in the best interests of students and families in the district.

Provisional Social Worker Endorsements

Rep. Gregg Johnson (D-East Moline) passed HB 5510 as amended, which creates a Social Work Associate endorsement on an educator license with stipulations. The legislation states that a school district may not replace any employed Professional Educator License holder with a school Support Personnel endorsement who otherwise would not be replaced for any reason with a Social Work Associate.

Charter School Fee Changes

Rep. Angelica Guerrero-Cuellar (D-Chicago) passed HB 5609 out of committee. HB 5609 caps the charter granted or renewal fee at 3 percent or less of the total annual public dollars allocated to the charter school after the effective date of the amendatory act by a local school board.

Expanded Access to School Based Health Services

Rep. Dagmara Avelar (D-Romeoville) passed HB 4633 out of committee. HB 4633 provides that an individual or group policy of accident and health insurance or managed care plan that is amended, delivered, issued, or renewed in Illinois shall provide coverage for health care services provided at a school-based health center at the same rate that would apply if those health care services were provided in a different health care setting. This bill is on 2nd Reading in the House.

Mental Health Resources for Students

Rep. Anne Stava-Murray (D-Downers Grove) introduced and passed HB 4586 out of committee. HB 4586 provides a school board shall require each school to notify students and the students' parents or guardians twice each year on how to access any mental health services offered in school or in the community where the school is located. HB 4586 is on 2nd Reading in the House.

Community College Teacher Preparation Programs

HB 5455 (Crespo, D-Streamwood) is an ISBE initiative that would allow for community colleges to create their own teacher education preparation programs for individuals who already hold a bachelor’s degree but are seeking a professional educator's license (PEL). ISBE noted that this would help address the teacher shortage by increasing geographic access to PEL programs and reducing the financial burdens associated with obtaining a PEL. The bill passed out of committee, despite opposition by the university systems and bipartisan concerns. The sponsor agreed to meet with the Teacher Shortage Workgroup to discuss this bill.

PSRP Minimum Wage Salary Study

HR 585 (Davis, D-Hazel Crest) directs the Professional Review Panel and the Illinois State Board of Education to conduct the analysis and financial modeling required to evaluate the implications of implementing the recommended $22 minimum hourly rate for employees who provide educational support services. The analyses will show the financial impact on school districts if the PSRP minimum salary were increased to $20 in school year 2025-26, $21 in 2026-27, and $22 in 2027-28. HR 585 passed out of the House Appropriations-Elementary & Secondary Education Committee.

Transfer of Student Records

Rep. Rita Mayfield (D- Waukegan) passed HB 1056 out of committee. The bill provides that when a student transfers to a new school, the school or school district last attended may not refuse the new school's request to provide a copy of the student's school record on the grounds that the student owes a debt.

School Buses Going Electric?

Rep. Marty Moylan (D-Des Plaines) passed HB 2287 out of committee. The bill would ban the sale of traditional diesel school buses in Illinois on January 1, 2028, and would ban the use of non-electric school buses on January 1, 2035. The committee discussion revealed that this bill could potentially cost school districts across the state hundreds of millions of dollars.

Work Ethic Instruction

Rep. Camille Lily (D-Oak Park) introduced and passed out of committee HB 2486. The bill provides that, beginning in grade 6, students should be introduced to the importance of developing and applying a work ethic in a variety of contexts. This bill is identical to HB 3792, which Rep. Lily passed in the 100th General Assembly but then-Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed.

Bill to Create New Department of Early Childhood Advances

Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford (D-Hillsdale) passed SB 1 out of the Senate Executive committee, which creates the Department of Early Childhood. The legislation seeks to provide a better coordinated system of birth-to-5 services and allow the state to reduce complexity and advance equity for families with young children. Currently, the majority of early childhood services for babies, toddlers and young children are split among three state agencies—the Department of Human Services, the State Board of Education, and the Department of Children and Family Services. The new Department of Early Childhood should unite the majority of early childhood services into one place, making it easier for families to access critical services and allow for stronger coordination between the various early childhood programs and services provided by the state. SB 1 is on 3rd Reading in the Senate. Rep. Mary Beth Canty (D-Arlington Heights) is carrying an identical bill in the House, HB 5451. This bill was approved by the Childcare Accessibility and Early Childhood Committee and is on 2nd reading.

Coordination Between DCFS and Schools for Indicated Victims of Child Abuse

Rep. Laura Faver Dias (D-Grayslake) passed HB 4407 out of committee. This bill provides that the Child Protective Service Unit at DCFS shall send a copy of its final finding report to the school that the child, who is the indicated victim of child abuse, attends. The bill requires the report to be sent during the summer to the last school that the child attended. HB 4407 further provides that the final finding report shall provide the date of expungement from the central register and the school shall purge the final finding report from the student's record in accordance with the Illinois School Student Records Act. HB 4407 is on 2nd Reading in the House.

Continuity of Care for Special Education Students Beyond Age 18

Rep. Michelle Mussman (D-Schaumburg) passed HB 4581 out of committee. This bill, an initiative of the Illinois Assistive Technology Project, provides that if a student who is 18 years of age or older with no legal guardian is placed residentially outside of the school district in which the student's parent lives and the placement is funded by a state agency or through private insurance, then the resident district is the school district in which the parent lives. HB 4581 is on 2nd Reading in the House.

Mandate Note Process Proposed

HB 4622, sponsored by Rep. Daniel Didech (D-Buffalo Grove), passed out of committee. HB 4622 provides that, after a request for a Local School District Mandate Note has been made and before the State Board of Education submits the note to the sponsor of the bill, local school districts may, through a website maintained by the State Board of Education, submit explanatory statements that may include a reliable estimate of the anticipated fiscal, operational, and other impacts of the proposed mandate on the local school district. The bill further states that the State Board of Education shall develop and maintain a website to accept submissions from local school districts. HB 4622 is on 2nd Reading in the House.

Air Quality in Schools Task Force

Rep. Laura Faver Dias (D-Grayslake) passed HB 4903 out of committee. HB 4903 creates the Air Quality in Schools Task Force. The purpose of the task force is to study and make recommendations to the General Assembly on air quality goals for elementary, middle, and high schools, processes to assess current ventilation systems in schools, processes to improve ventilation after assessment, and potential state and federal funding sources to improve school air quality in this state. HB 4903 sets forth the members of the task force, provides that the State Board of Education shall provide administrative assistance and necessary staff support services, and provides that the task force shall meet at the call of the State Superintendent of Education and issue recommendations for elementary and secondary schools in a report to the General Assembly. Recommendations will be related to best practices to better assess current ventilation systems in schools and to improve their overall maintenance, as well as identify potential infrastructure needs and funding sources.

Transition Planning for Special Education Students

Rep. Suzanne Ness (D-Carpentersville) passed HB 5276 out of committee. This legislation provides that the transition planning process and the transition plan prepared for a student shall include consideration of the assistive technology needs of the student related to the student's transition goals while the student is participating in transition-related activities and in post-school activities, including assistive technology evaluations, devices, and services and the availability and accessibility of appropriate assistive technology devices and services for the student in post-school activities. It would be effective immediately.

Non-Bus Student Transportation

HB 3476 (Andrade, D-Chicago) would reclassify which vehicles are allowed to transport students and allow the Secretary of State to offer a separate permit for passenger vehicles (e.g. the option for parents and ride share companies to transport students to school). The Secretary of State and many school districts are opposed to this change. Ongoing discussions are planned.

School Bus Electrification Grant Program

Rep. Marty Moylan (D-Des Plaines) proposed and passed out of committee HB 4196, which establishes the Fleet Electrification Incentive program under the Environmental Protection Act to provide grants to fleet owners and operators in Illinois to promote the use of eligible electric vehicles. The program offers grants based on vehicle classes, with additional incentives for specific types of vehicles, and emphasizes the impact of fleet operations on pollution in designated communities. Grants would be awarded on a competitive basis according to funding availability and are based on the class of vehicle, offering varying grant amounts for different vehicle classes. The program allows for the combination of grants with other public incentives, not exceeding 80% of the vehicle's purchase price, and sets aside 20% of the appropriated funds for grants towards the purchase of electric school buses.

Changes to SLP Licensure Requirements

HB 4672 (Mussman, D-Schaumburg) seeks to provide clarity to the required number of licensure tests for speech-language pathologists to achieve licensure in Illinois. The bill received unanimous approval. The sponsor indicated that additional conversations will be taking place to determine the specific nature of the clarification needed in statute, and noted that the bill will return to committee with an amendment. Sen. Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago) SB 3467 passed similar legislation out of the Senate Education committee.

Climate Change Instruction

HB 4895 (Yang Rohr, D-Naperville) directs ISBE to develop instructional materials for use in teaching climate change. Climate change is already required to be taught to students as part of the Next Generation Science Standards adopted by ISBE. HB 4895 was approved by the House Education Committee and is currently on 2nd Reading.

Educator Misconduct Initiatives

HB 4896 (Mussman, D- Schaumburg) is a trailer bill to Faith’s Law which was passed in 2021 and requires school districts to obtain certain employment information on accusations of sexual misconduct from previous employers. This bill clarifies some of the information that school districts need to obtain and better facilitates school districts obtaining this employment information for substitute teachers who often work with multiple school districts. The bill will be held on 2nd Reading for an additional amendment. The bill passed out of Committee on a unanimous vote.

HB 4241 (Elik, R- Alton) is an initiative aimed at closing a legal loophole that would currently allow an educator or staff member in a school to have sexual conduct with an 18-year-old student. The bill language provides that a person commits abuse as an educator or authority figure if that person holds a position of trust, authority, or supervision in relation to a student in a school, the student is at least 18 years of age, the person is at least four years older than the student, and the person either (1) commits an act of sexual conduct with the student or (2) commits an act of sexual penetration with the student. HB 4241 passed out of the House Judiciary Committee but is expected to receive additional amendatory language.

HB 4623 (Gong-Gershowitz) provides that a person convicted of committing or attempting to commit an obscene depiction of a purported child is ineligible for a commercial driver’s license (CDL) with a school bus driver endorsement. The bill passed with bipartisan support through House Judiciary Criminal committee.

Rep. Harry Benton (D-Plainfield) advanced HB 5364, which would require school districts to provide remote learning opportunities to students who are dependents of military personnel and who are housed in temporary housing and are in between school district enrollments. The sponsor agreed to hold the bill for an amendment following discussion with members of the committee about their concerns.


Tier 2 Pension Improvements

The House Pension Committee approved HB 4873 (Kifowit, D-Aurora) and HB 5211 (Kifowit, D-Aurora). These bills provide for various improvements for Tier 2 for state funded pension systems. The sponsor indicated that the legislation is intended to be a place holder for further discussions on the issue and will act as the focus of continuing subject matter hearings to address the Tier 2 debate for systems funded by the state of Illinois. These issues include, but are not limited to, retirement age decrease, increases in post-retirement cost of living adjustments, and tackling compliance with the Social Security wage base.

Return to Work Extension

The House Pension Committee approved HB 4662 (Elik, R-Alton). The legislation allows retirees to return to work in areas that have been designated as subject shortage areas without impacting their annuity.

Higher Education

Dual Credit Requirements Post-Higher Learning Commission Change

The House Higher Education Committee approved HB 5020 (Blair-Sherlock, D-Villa Park). The legislation was amended in that committee and will be further amended with language that represents extensive negotiations on the legislation. The legislation provides for various changes to the way dual credit is administered to students. Changes include a limitation on the ability of high schools to college shop for dual credit providers, safeguards on high school instructor qualifications, and a union voice on maintaining rigor of dual credit classes.

Dual Credit Recognition for Joliet Junior College

The House Higher Education Committee approved HR 647 (Benton, D-Plainfield). The bill recognizes Joliet Junior College (JJC) for the successful implementation of its 12x12x12 dual credit program. It also commends JJC for continuing to inspire learning, transform lives, and strengthen communities and encourages all community colleges to pursue and implement similar dual credit programs of their own.

Higher Education Mental Health Days

The Senate Higher Education Committee approved SB 2606 (Koehler-D, Peoria Heights). The legislation provides for students to utilize up to 2 days for mental health. Amendments have been provided that limit this availability if the student has a record of absenteeism.

Higher Education Winter Weather Emergencies

The Senate Higher Education Committee approved SB 331 (Turner, D- Springfield). The legislation requires that employees of a university or community college be paid their regular rate of pay if a campus has been closed due to a declaration of a winter weather emergency.


Personnel Record Review

HB 3763 (Guzzardi, D-Chicago) gives employees the right to request personnel documents, contracts, handbooks, policies, and procedures the employee is subject to. The bill also specifies procedures for allowing the employee to inspect or be provided with those documents. HB 3763 passed out of the House Labor & Commerce Committee.

Labor Relations Board Expedited Schedule

HB 5324 (Hoffman, D-Belleville) specifies the annual reporting requirements of the Illinois Labor Relations Board and Illinois Educational and Labor Relations Board. It provides an expedited schedule for the board to follow upon the filing of unfair labor practice charges. Negotiations are continuing on this legislation and an amendment is expected to be filed. HB 5324 passed out of the House Labor & Commerce Committee.

Employee Freedom of Speech

HB 5572 (Evans, D-Chicago) would prohibit Illinois employers from requiring employees to attend employer-sponsored meetings where the primary purpose is to communicate the employer’s opinions on religious or political matters. Some employers have used these meetings to discourage employees from joining a union. HB 5572 passed out of the House Labor & Commerce Committee.

A Look Ahead

The deadline for House bills to be voted out of committees was April 5. Some bills will receive extensions, but most committee work is done for now. The focus for legislators turns to bills that will be called for a vote on the House and Senate floor. The House returns on April 10, while the Senate reconvenes on April 9.


A reminder that the IFT and We Are one coalition will be asking members to contact lawmakers the week of April 15. For more information, check the IFT web page.


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