NEWS

Legislative highlights for the week of March 22

The deadline to pass House bills out of House Committees passed March 26. The Senate deadline has been extended to April 16. New leadership in both the House and the Senate, changes to operating procedures, and the ongoing remote committee environment has meant a higher volume of bills in Committees as well as more bills being released from Committee that still need work.


The Illinois General Assembly is on break through the week of April 12, making it a good time to reach out to legislators in their district offices. To learn more about how IFT can support in-district efforts visit IFT's Local Action for Statewide Results (LASR program).

IL Redistricting process begins in earnest

The Illinois House and Senate began hearings to start the process of redrawing congressional and state legislative districts in line with the 2020 census. Lawmakers are holding hearings even though detailed census data will likely be unavailable until September.


The once-in-a-decade process follows the U.S. Census count. Each state is required to draw new boundaries for legislative districts in response to shifts in population. While each state has a unique process for redistricting, legislative districts must conform to several constitutional and statutory standards, including the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

In Illinois, legislative redistricting maps must also meet four requirements including:

  • districts must be substantially equal in population

  • districts must be configured to provide adequate representation to minorities and other special interests protected by state and federal law

  • districts must be compact and contiguous

  • maps must meet all legal requirements regarding political fairness

Public hearings hosted by both the House and Senate are being held up and down the state allowing for communities to have input and/or express concerns, particularly from minority and underrepresented groups.


Submit House testimony here.

Submit Senate testimony here.


The Illinois Constitution requires the GA to pass new maps by June 30. However, a delay in data from the U.S. Census Bureau has created an obstacle for lawmakers. If not passed by the statutory deadline, the map-making process is handed over to a commission.


Bill action of note this week:


Education and School Operations

HB 7 (Rep. Mayfield, D-Waukegan) creates the School District Efficiency Commission that would identify, before May 1, 2022, no less than 25% of school districts in Illinois that will be required to hold a referendum to consolidate in the next general election. Regional Superintendents would be required to notify the public, approve or disapprove the proposition, and submit the proposal to the State Superintendent for review and approval before going before the voters. With the promise to continue to work on the underlying issues, HB 7 passed 8-0-0, however Representative Mayfield said that amendments and changes will have to be brought back to committee for a vote.

SB 564 (Sen. Ellman, D-Naperville) adds January 17, the birthday of Muhammad Ali, to the list of commemorative holidays and requires the teaching of the contributions made by Muslims and Muslim Americans to society as part of U.S. History. The bill passed out of committee 11-3-0. SB 1819 (Sen. Koehler, D-Peoria) creates the Rural Education Advisory Council to address the needs of rural school districts. An amendment was added that would provide for teachers from rural districts to participate. The bill passed out of committee 14-0-0.


SB 1821 (Sen. Koehler, D-Peoria) allows a student whose 22nd birthday occurs during the school year to complete the academic year for 2021-22. In current statute, special education students are eligible for services until they reach their 22nd birthday. An amendment was added that would allow federal COVID funds to help support district efforts to continue to enroll these students. The bill passed out of committee 12-0-0.


SB 2043 (Sen. Pacione-Zayas, D- Chicago) is an initiative of ISBE to clean up statute. Two issues are included in the bill that are of interest to the IFT: 1) the exemption of the ISBE employees from the Sick Bank requirement in Statute. ISBE employees are currently able to access these benefits via an internal agency sick back; that will continue after passage of this bill. and 2) language that would allow ISBE to reimburse districts for virtual course provided. This second provision is concerning to IFT and ISBE has agreed to amend this language out. The bill passed out of committee 10-0-0.


SB2071 (Sen. Castro, D-Elgin) provides that an applicant who has earned a master's degree in social work and holds a valid license may obtain a social worker endorsement on an Educator License. The bill passed out of committee 12-0-0.


E-cigarettes and Vaping

HB 3202 (Rep. Mason, D-Gurnee) includes e-cigarettes and other vapor devices as one of the educational areas the Comprehensive Health Education Program must include. Passed unanimously.


Public Health Metrics and Schools

HB 2789 (Rep. Mussman, D-Schaumburg) provides that Department of Public Health shall establish metrics and develop recommended guidelines for school districts and public institutions of higher education to use during the public health emergency. Provides that the rapid COVID-19 testing shall be paid for from federal relief funds. Makes other changes. Passed unanimously. This is a work in progress. An amendment is being negotiated.


E-Learning Day on Election Day

HB 4 (Rep. Mayfield, D-Waukkegan) permits student instruction to be received electronically under a school district's program for e-learning days while students are not physically present because a school was selected to be a polling place under the Election Code. The bill passed out of committee 8-0-0.


Nurses in Schools

HB 70 (Rep. Flowers, D-Chicago) provides that the Chicago Board of Education, beginning with the 2022-2023 school year, shall require the top 20% of the lowest performing schools in the district to employ a school nurse. The bill passed out of committee 5-3-0.


Award of Contracts

HB 2421 (Rep. Didech, D-Buffalo Grove) provides that a school board may award contracts for the purchase of supplies and materials or work involving an expenditure in excess of $50,000 or a lower amount as required by board policy to the lowest responsible and responsive bidder or to the bidder determined to best meet the needs of the board, considering such factors as conformity with specifications, terms of delivery, quality, and serviceability and such other performance criteria determined by board policy and included in the bid documents, and then price (rather than awarding contracts for the purchase of supplies and materials or work involving an expenditure in excess of $25,000 or a lower amount as required by board policy to the lowest responsible bidder, considering conformity with specifications, terms of delivery, quality, and serviceability), after due advertisement. Provides for an exception for contracts for the repair, maintenance, remodeling, renovation, or construction or a single project involving an expenditure not to exceed $100,000 (rather than $50,000) and not involving a change or increase in the size, type, or extent of an existing facility. The bill passed out of committee 8-0-0.


Charter School Auditor

HB 2795 (Rep. Harper, D-Chicago) With respect to a charter school's retention of an outside, independent contractor to audit the charter school's finances, provides that the contractor shall not be an employee of the charter school or affiliated with the charter school or its authorizer in any way, other than to audit the charter school's finances. The bill passed the out of committee 8-0-0.


Required school board oath removed

HB 2814 (Rep. Halbrook, R-Shelbyville) removes portions of a school board member's oath of office taken before taking seat on the board. The bill passed out of committee 8-0-0.


HB 3149 (Rep. Mason, D-Gurnee) provides that a duty of the regional superintendent of schools is to inspect the energy conservation measures of schools under the Code. In the Article concerning school energy conservation and savings measures, makes changes concerning definitions, the evaluation and submission of guaranteed energy savings contract proposals, performance reviews, the award of a contract, the written guarantee, installment payment contracts and lease purchase agreements, cost savings, and available funds. The bill passed out of committee 5-3-0.


Updating Absence Guidelines

HB 3272 (Rep. Harper, D-Chicago) requires a school board to adopt written policies related to absences and missed homework or classwork assignments as a result of, or related to, a student's pregnancy. The bill passed out of committee 8-0-0.


School District Boundaries

HB 3310 (Rep. Welter, R-Morris) provides that the length of time that signatures on the petition remain valid before the filing of the petition shall not exceed one year (rather than shall not exceed 6 months) with respect to change school district boundaries by detachment, annexation, division, or dissolution. The bill passed 8-0-0.


School Construction Grants

HB 3563 (Rep. Ugaste, R-Geneva) with regard to early childhood construction grants, provides that (i) a public school district assigned to Tier 1 under the evidence-based funding formula under the School Code or any other eligible entity in an area encompassed by that district must provide local matching funds in an amount equal to 3% of the awarded grant, (ii) a public school district assigned to Tier 2 under the evidence-based funding formula or any other eligible entity in an area encompassed by that district must provide local matching funds in an amount equal to 7.5% of the awarded grant, (iii) a public school district assigned to Tier 3 under the evidence-based funding formula or any other eligible entity in an area encompassed by that district must provide local matching funds in an amount equal to 8.75% of the awarded grant, and (iv) a public school district assigned to Tier 4 under the evidence-based funding formula or any other eligible entity in an area encompassed by that district must provide local matching funds in an amount equal to 10% of the awarded grant (rather than providing that a public school district or other eligible entity must provide local matching funds in an amount equal to 10% of the grant). The bill passed out of committee 8-0-0.


Remote Learning

HB 3573 (Rep. Bennett, R-Pontiac) makes a change in the School Code to allow a school district to utilize a remote learning day instead of an emergency day. It requires the school district to have a remote learning plan in place before they utilize a remote learning day. The bill was approved 8-0.


HB 3638 (Rep. Marron, R-Danville) provides that a public or private educational entity that offers credit-bearing vocational, career, or technical education and coursework to high school students through a learning program, approved by the school district, wherein the location of the course instruction takes place in a building or structure that is located on the campus of an institution of higher education or in a building or structure that is located on a site that is under the jurisdiction or control of the institution may not be required by the Department of Public Health to obtain asbestos testing or to implement an asbestos remediation or abatement plan for that building or structure if (i) the public or private educational entity is not associated or affiliated with the institution of higher education other than in the use of the building or structure for course instruction and (ii) the institution of higher education is in compliance with all State and federal asbestos testing, abatement, and remediation requirements for buildings or structures located on its campus or that are otherwise under the jurisdiction or control of the institution. The bill passed out of committee 8-0-0.