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Legislative Highlights for the Week of 4/26/24

The Illinois legislature will reconvene next week for the remaining 19 scheduled days of the 103rd General Assembly spring legislative session. Last Friday was the House third reading deadline.

Legislators will arrive back in Springfield on Tuesday, April 30 to begin cross-chamber committee work. The remaining 4 weeks will be focused on cross chamber legislative action and on the budget as the appropriations committees continue to hear testimony on fiscal year 2025 budget requests from state agencies.

IFT Initiatives

All three of IFT’s legislative initiatives are poised for action in the opposite chamber. They include:

Higher Education Winter Weather Emergencies

The Senate approved SB 331 unanimously (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. SB 331 is posted to be heard in the House Higher Education committee on May 1.

Limits on Student Testing in Grades K-6

Rep. Sue Scherer (D-Decatur), a former educator, sent HB 4955 to the Senate, which restricts the State Board of Education from funding any standardized assessment or testing any students in grades K-6 beyond the requirements of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. The bill also encourages ISBE to seek federal testing waivers.

CTE Teacher Tenure

SB 463 (Hirschauer, D-West Chicago) clarifies that educators holding career and technical educator endorsements and provisional career and technical educator endorsements are eligible to receive tenure under a bill passed last spring, PA 103-500. The bill also includes language to extend the work of the Performance Evaluation Advisory Committee (PEAC) until December 31, 2024, and continues the work of the PEAC training committee going forward. SB 463 is posted to be heard in the House Elementary and Secondary Administration, Licensing and Charter Schools Committee on Wednesday May 1.

Other Updates

Teacher Plan Time

Former educator Rep. Katie Stuart (D-Collinsville) passed HB 3907 out of the House Elementary and Secondary Education Administration, Licensing and Charter Schools Committee that will allow all educators to have daily continuous, uninterrupted individual classroom planning time. Rep. Stuart amended the legislation, which removed the 45-minute time requirement. There are ongoing discussions with stakeholders around teacher plan time.

Accelerated Placement Changes

Rep. Carol Ammons (D-Champaign) passed HB 5250 out of the House on the third reading unanimously. The bill provides that school districts will establish policies no later than the beginning of the 2027-2028 school year for a student to enroll in the next most rigorous level of advanced coursework offered by the 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 (i) 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 (ii) the school district has determined that the student has demonstrated mastery of or competency in the content of the course or unit of instruction. An identical bill, SB 3553 (Lightford, D-Hillside), is on its third reading.

Mandate Note Process Proposed

HB 4622, sponsored by Rep. Daniel Didech (D – Buffalo Grove), passed out of the House on a vote of 106-0. 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 up for further discussion in the Senate.

Air Quality in Schools Task Force

Rep. Laura Faver Dias (D – Grayslake) passed HB 4903 out of the House. HB 4903 provides that the State Board of Education shall, in consultation with the Department of Public Health, compile resources for elementary and secondary schools relating to indoor air quality in schools, including best practices for assessing and maintaining ventilation systems and information on any potential State or federal funding sources that may assist a school in identifying ventilation needs.

School Bus Electrification Grant Program

Rep Marty Moylan (D-Des Plaines) proposed and passed out of the House HB 4196 that 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, albeit 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. HB 4196 is slated for further discussion in the Senate.

Faith’s Law Trailer

HB 4241 (Elik, R- Alton) provides that a person commits abuse by 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 the House unanimously, 107-0-0, and is up for further discussion in the Senate.

Dual Credit Requirements Post-Higher Learning Commission Change

The full House approved HB 5020 (Blair-Sherlock, D-Villa Park) on a vote of 105-1-0. The legislation provides for various changes to the way dual credit is administered to high school 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. HB 5020 is pending action in the Senate.

New Arrivals School District Grants

HB 3991 (Crespo, D-Streamwood) is an appropriations bill that calls for $188M in funding to support new arrival grants for school districts. A corresponding bill, HB 2822 (Crespo, D-Streamwood) would require the State Board of Education to implement and administer a program to make New Arrival Student Grants available to school districts to support the needs of newly arriving immigrant students, regardless of immigration status. Both HB 3991 and HB 2822 were discussed in the House Appropriations Education Committee last week.

Parental IEP Meeting Notification

HB 340 (Mussman, D-Schaumburg) requires districts to provide notice to parents and guardians regarding the date that they will receive copies of all written materials for an IEP meeting. The bill passed the House 110-0 and is now up for discussion in the Senate.

Professional Review Panel and ISBE Financial Caseload Analysis

SJR 49 (Lightford, D-Maywood) 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 maximum caseloads for school social workers, school psychologists, school counselors, school nurses, and speech-language pathologists working in schools by December 31, 2025. ISBE testified in opposition to the resolution in committee citing that the Evidence Based Formula already addresses support personnel caseloads; however, the Illinois Federation of Teachers and Illinois Education Association support a closer look at the current statutory caseload requirements in hopes to increase the availability of support personnel to lower caseloads and increase student access. The resolution passed out of committee 11-0 and is pending approval by the Senate.

Changes to the Elementary Content Test

HB 5057 (Scherer, D-Decatur/Cappel, D-Crest Hill) encourages the Illinois State Board of Education to work with its content test vendors to remove certain mathematics and music requirements from content tests administered to teacher candidates in grades one through six. The bill also requires ISBE to allow the elementary content test to be compensatory or retaken with the highest score on each of the sections counting each time. There has been quite a bit of discussion this spring about the challenges pre-service educators face when taking content tests and there is hope that this bill will make that process better and potentially less costly. HB 5057 passed the House by a vote of 85-20 and is pending action in the Senate.

Teacher Manufacturing Externships

HB 3286 (Ness, D-Carpentersville) creates state stipends for teacher externships. The bill requires ISBE, subject to appropriation, to provide stipends for teachers who participate in externships with a manufacturing company in Illinois. The externship experience is designed to give teachers the opportunity to spend time outside of the classroom and in manufacturing facilities. HB 3286 passed the House 105-0-1 and is pending in the Senate.

Unfair Labor Practices

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 has been filed. HB 5324 will likely see a deadline extension as the bill was not approved by the full House before last Friday’s floor deadline.

Captive Audience Meetings

SB 3649 (Peters, D-Chicago) recently passed the Senate labor committee. This legislation will protect workers if they refuse to attend “captive audience meetings” – employer sponsored meetings on religious or political issues. SB 3649 passed the Senate Labor committee and is on third reading in the Senate.

Tier 2 Pension Update

The House Personnel and Pensions Committee heard subject matter regarding the governor’s pension plan presented by the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget.

The following three measures were proposed by the Governor in his February budget address and discussed by the Committee:

  • Increase statutory funding from 90% by 2045 to 100% by 2048. The Governor wants to add three years of contributions to bring Illinois’ pension funding to 100%.

  • The state will funnel current legacy payments to the pension fund once legacy debts are paid off, which will begin in 2030 and reduce future pension payments. By dedicating future savings to increase pension contributions from FY30 through FY40, the state aims to save taxpayers an estimated $5.1 billion by FY45.

  • Ensure Tier 2 pensionable earnings comply with federal law, specifically the Safe Harbor provision, but the proposal does not include broad-based Tier 2 pension reform.

Last week, educators, PSRPS, and public employees united for a week of action to tell lawmakers that public employees deserve to retire with dignity and financial security! IFT members were among the 63,000 public workers who called or emailed their legislators to urge them to Fix Tier 2. Our fight is not over, so please watch your inbox and for updates and future calls for action.

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