The House and Senate Committee deadlines have passed, and hundreds of bills are positioned for action on the chamber floors. The pace at which both chambers are moving legislation indicates that the leadership of the Illinois General Assembly is serious about meeting the April 8 adjournment deadline.
The IFT Department of Political Activities is currently watching the following issues and legislation:
Fiscal Year 2023 Revenue
The House Revenue Committee held a hearing February 24 to hear from the Illinois Department of Revenue, the Governor’s Office of Management, and about the FY23 Revenue Estimates. The Committee was told that in Fiscal Year 2023 (beginning July 1) the state will continue to see a solid revenue performance yet begin a period of leveling, where the last two years of fiscal breathing room trend back to normal. The Senate Appropriations Committee hasn’t yet scheduled its hearing on revenue estimates, but they will likely hold a similar hearing.
Bills Impacting Educators and Support Staff
HB 1167 (Rep. Yang Rohr, D-Naperville): After reaching an agreement with the IFT on a new version of the COVID days legislation, the Governor vetoed HB 2778. The new agreement includes the wage protection provisions of the original bill while limiting the use of COVID administrative days to those who are vaccinated or who get vaccinated within five weeks of the bill being signed into law. Additional information about the agreement and an FAQ are available on the IFT website. The House Executive Committee approved amendments #2 and #3 to HB 1167 and it’s anticipated the bill will be called for a House vote next week.
HB 4316 (Rep. Mussman, D-Schaumburg), Faith’s Law (PA 102-0676), passed last year and prohibited sexual misconduct in schools, but HB 4316 addresses the loophole for when those guilty of misconduct try to find a job in another district. Currently, there is no mechanism to ensure that a prospective new district would be warned of the school employee’s history, so even if one school is vigilant to address sexual misconduct against children, the district next door could unknowingly be exposing more children to danger. Technical amendments were filed on this bill but it’s positioned for action in the House next week.
HB 4246 (Rep. Scherer, D-Decatur) lowers the lapsed license fee for educators from $500 to $50 and also provides that a retired teacher, even if returning to a position that requires educator licensure, shall not be required to pay registration fees. This bill is positioned for action by the House next week.
HB 4690 (Rep. Mussman, D-Schaumburg) reinstates requirements for teacher and principal dismissal pre-hearing and hearing requirements that were paused due to the pandemic. This bill is positioned for action by the House next week.
HB 4256 (Rep. McCombie, R-Sterling) allows a school district to waive, for the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 school years only, the evaluation requirement of any teacher in contractual continued service whose performance during the last school year in which the teacher was evaluated was rated as either "excellent" or "proficient". The bill does not provide waiver applicability evenly, and some teachers with “excellent” or “proficient” evaluations could continue to be evaluated. This bill is positioned for action by the House next week.
HB 5472 (Rep. Yang Rohr, D-Naperville)/SB 3201 (Sen. Harris, D-Dolton) are competing initiatives to extend the amount of time a retired educator can return to the classroom. Both bills extend the time a retiree can substitute from 120 days (current law) to 140 days; however, the length of time for this extension differs in each bill. Both bills are positioned for approval next week.
SB 3893 (Sen. Joyce, D-Park Forest) provides that a substitute teacher may teach up to 120 (instead of 90) school days for any one licensed teacher under contract in the same school year. The bill passed the Senate on a vote of 54-0-0.
SB 3907 (Sen. Turner, D-Springfield) Provides that an individual holding a Short-Term Substitute Teaching License may teach up to 15 (instead of 5) consecutive days per licensed teacher who is under contract. The bill passed the Senate on a vote of 52-0-0.
SB 3914 (Sen. Cappel, D-Plainfield) as introduced provides an additional 5 mental health days for teachers (in addition to the statutorily required 10 sick days). An amendment was added at the request of school management that allows 5 of the 10 statutorily allowed sick days to be used for mental health purposes. The bill passed the Senate on a vote of 54-0-0.
SB 3915 (Sen. Cappel, D-Plainfield) waives the short-term substitute licensure fee during a public health emergency. The bill passed the Senate on a vote of 54-0-0.
Bills Impacting Students
HB 5265 (Rep. Guzzardi, D-Chicago) requires notice to homeless students and their families of the ability to waive school fees. The bill is positioned for action next week.
HB 4243 (Rep. Mason, D-Gurnee) prohibits a school district from withholding a student's grades, transcripts, or diploma because of an unpaid balance on the student's school account. The bill is positioned for action next week.
HB 4200 (Rep. Nichols, D-Burbank) provides that school personnel participating in the postsecondary mentoring program may receive compensation (instead of may not receive any compensation) for their participation in the program. The bill is positioned for action next week.
HB 5193 (Rep. Hirschauer, D-West Chicago) provides that every school district shall include safe gun storage information in schools' student handbooks. The bill is positioned for action next week.
HB 4203 (Rep. West, D-Rockford) prohibits a public body from displaying any racially derogatory language, including racial slurs, within its building, on its property, or at a public meeting at any time. The bill is positioned for action next week.
HB 5032 (Rep. Mayfield,D-Waukegan)/SB 3900 (Sen. Lightford, D-Hillside) initiative of the Illinois Early Literacy Coalition; this bill seeks to establish a structured approach to literacy and requires curriculum, licensure, professional development and standards to be aligned to this literacy approach. The intent of the legislation is to address low literacy rates for Illinois students as part of the Black Caucus education agenda and specifically address reading challenges experienced by children. The IFT has a number of concerns with the legislation and has been engaged in conversations with the proponents of the bill. Both bills are positioned for action next week; however, ongoing conversations are being held with the bill sponsors.
HB 5488 (Rep. Harper, D-Chicago) provides that any middle or high school child from a public school shall be permitted by a school board at least one school day-long excused absence per school year to engage in a civic event. The bill is positioned for action next week.
HB 4716 (Rep. Halpin, D-Rock Island) requires the State Board of Education, Secretary of State, and other stakeholders to update course content and learning standards for the classroom and laboratory phases of driver education for novice teen drivers under the age of 18. The bill is positioned for action next week.
HB 4813 (Rep. Gordon-Booth, D-Peoria) lifts the lowest bidder requirement for school lunch service. The IFT has been opposed due to concerns that this will exacerbate privatization of school lunch services. The bill is positioned for action next week.
HB 5214 (Rep. Hernandez, D-Cicero) requires a school district to provide an interpreter for a parent who is deaf or doesn’t speak English for IEP, 504, and due process meetings with parents. The bill is positioned for action next week.
SB 3789 (Sen. Morrison, D-Highwood) provides that the report that accompanies the school district's annual financial report must be adopted at an open meeting that allows for public comment. The bill passed the Senate on a vote of 41-8-0 and has been picked up by Representative Jonathan Carroll.
SB 932 (Sen. Castro, D-Elgin) was amended to allow the presiding officer of a public body to determine if holding an in-person meeting would risk the health or safety of members of the public body and to conduct an audio or video meeting instead. The bill is being supported by local governments, including school districts, to allow for local control while preserving the integrity of an open meeting. SB 932 was passed out of the Senate Executive Committee but has not yet been called for a vote on the Senate floor.
HB 5149 (Rep. Haas, R-Kankakee) prohibits the State Board of Education from taking any action that requires students enrolled in grades 3 through 8 to take the annual assessment or any part of the annual assessment in English language arts and mathematics more than once per school year. This bill was not called in the House Executive Committee.
SB 4058 (Sen. Cappel, D-Plainfield) provides that prior to approving a contract for any district-administered assessment, except those assessments developed by district teachers or administrators, a school board must hold a public hearing at a regular or special meeting of the school board, in which the terms of the proposal must be substantially presented and an opportunity for allowing public comments must be provided. This bill was not called for a vote in committee.
SB 3986 (Sen. Pacione-Zayas, D-Chicago)/HB 5285 (Rep. LaPointe, D-Chicago) prohibits the State Board of Education from developing, purchasing, or requiring a school district to administer, develop, or purchase a standardized assessment for students enrolled or preparing to enroll in prekindergarten through grade 2, other than for diagnostic purposes. SB 3986 passed the Senate on a vote of 53-2-0; the House version of the bill is positioned for action next week.
Tax and Revenue Legislation
HB 4326 (Rep .Stuart, D-Edwardsville) redirects of a portion of the School Facility Occupational Tax to the Regional Offices of Education. The bill is positioned for action next week.
HB 4547 (Rep. Burke, D-Oak Lawn) provides that if a school district approves a property tax relief abatement for a given levy year, then the school district shall file in the office of the county clerk of each county in which a portion of the district is situated a certified copy of the resolution providing for the property tax relief abatement. The bill is positioned for action next week.
SB 2298 (Sen. Gillespie, D-Arlington Heights) TIF and PTELL reform. Establishes a transparent, collaborative, and objective process for evaluating the extension of a TIF and expands the authority of school districts in the TIF process.
A look ahead:
During the next few weeks, the legislature will continue to move bills cross chamber and approve legislation in opposite chamber committees. Discussions around the development of the FY23 State Budget continue as well.
The House returns to Springfield next week for additional floor action. Senators are back in districts until March 8th.