Legislative update - week of 8/7/15

It was another quiet week in Springfield. A few committees – Personnel and Pension, Revenue, Education, and Executive – met to advance legislation. The Senate passed a bill giving the State the authority to release federal funds in addition to legislation addressing some aspects of workers’ compensation reform.


The House is scheduled to return Tuesday, August 11th; the Senate is scheduled to return on Wednesday, August 19th.


Legislators introduced more than 6,000 bills so far in the 99th General Assembly, 10% of which made it to the Governor’s desk. To date, the Governor has taken action to approve nearly half of those, covering a variety of issues. Below is a snapshot of noteworthy bills passed and signed into law:


  • PA 99-5 contains FY16 appropriations for the State Board of Education including funds to support General State Aid and Mandated Categorical payments.

  • PA 99-45 amends the Personnel Code in hopes of expediting the State hiring process for licensed employees at the Illinois School for the Deaf and Illinois School for the Visually Impaired.

  • PA 99-58 amends multiple sections of the School Code to make changes concerning teacher preparation, out-of-state educator and administrator reciprocity, license fees, and educator misconduct.

  • PA 99-130 amends the School Code to include an Illinois museum as a professional development provider for licensure purposes.

  • PA 99-193 makes significant changes to the current State accountability system.

  • PA 99-194 creates a pilot program in three districts to allow the use of e-learning days during inclement weather.

  • PA 99-144 requires the State Board of Education and Illinois Department of Human Services to develop and implement a training program on the Prioritization of Urgency of Needs system (PUNS) for at least one designated employee in every public school.

  • PA 99-185 requires that one of three state assessments (ACT, SAT, or PARCC) administered in High School count as an assessment for college admissions.

For other bill updates of interest, visit the IFT Under the Dome page.

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Contact lawmakers to prevent a state lockout/strike!


The IFT has started a campaign to encourage lawmakers to override Governor Rauner’s veto of Senate Bill 1229. This union-supported legislation would give public employees the option to choose common-sense binding arbitration over Rauner’s political attempts of a lockout or a strike. IFT Local 4408 (Illinois Federation of Public Employees) support this legislation that would give them an option to ensure that public services continue uninterrupted. They need your help. Click here to email legislators today.

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Senate passes workers comp. legislation


The Senate passed SB162, sponsored by Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago), which makes changes to the workers compensation system. The Illinois AFL-CIO took a neutral position on the bill because it didn’t contain reforms for insurance companies. At previous legislative hearings on the issue, lawmakers have complained that it is difficult to determine if insurance companies have passed along savings to employers after previous reforms to the workers compensation law were made.


The bill passed along party lines (036-019-001 )with Democrats saying the bill has many of the reforms requested by the Governor and Republicans saying the bill doesn’t do enough. The bill moves to the House for consideration.

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Governor Rauner’s pension plan


The House Pension Committee continues to hear testimony on the Governor’s pension “reform” legislation. This week, the  Rauner administration attempted to defend the parts of the bill that destroy collective bargaining rights by way of eliminating wages, hours, and tenure as mandatory subjects of bargaining.  The administration also provided testimony on their proposal to negotiate directly with state employees over what package an individual would decide upon, thus circumventing the ability of the union from representing members in this crucial decision.  In addition, the pension systems provided testimony about the hazards of having to implement such a plan, pointing out that it would be an administrative burden that would require additional resources.  


The House Pension Committee will continue to review the legislation next week.  Union representatives will provide the testimony.           

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Illinois Senate revisits Cullerton property tax freeze plan– moves to Illinois House

The Illinois Senate took a second shot at a property tax freeze plan (SB318) sponsored by Senate President John Cullerton this week. The plan would freeze property taxes for two years, set Illinois up to change its school funding formula, and help Chicago pay its pension payments.


Two weeks ago, the measure fell four votes short of passing. This week, all the democrats voted in favor of the bill, while Republicans voted present.  While the bill did not contain the harmful anti-worker measures the Governor has been demanding, it would freeze property taxes for two years, which is harmful to local municipalities trying to raise tax dollars to pay for critical services and education. The IFT, CTU, and many other education groups opposed the bill, which also requires the State of Illinois to make contributions to the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund for normal cost of approximately $200 million.  Normal cost is the amount of money needed to fund the benefits that are currently being earned.  In addition, the legislation allows the City of Chicago to underfund the system by more than $400 million during the next two years.


A companion measure,SB2039, would provide an additional $74 million for needy school districts. It passed on a vote of 49-7-0, with several Republicans joining Democrats in support.

Both measures now move to the House, where they might have a difficult time. House Democrats, to date, have shown only mixed support for similar proposals.

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Federal spending bill advances


SB2042 is a budget bill that appropriates more $5 billion of federal funds for FY 16 to various state agencies and programs, including those at the Illinois State Board of Education, Illinois Department of Agriculture, Department of Natural Resources, and the Office of the State Fire Marshal. SB 2042 passed the Senate on a bipartisan vote of 57-0-0; the Governor has indicated his support.


Rep. Art Turner (D-Chicago) has filed an amendment to the bill to add additional federal spending items. Additional amendments may be forthcoming.

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House advances funding for Meals on Wheels & Women, Infant, and Children (WIC) programs


By a vote of 56-0-23, the House approved HB 4145, a bill that provides two months of funding (July and August 2015) for the Women, Infant and Children (WIC) Program at the Department of Human Services and the Meals on Wheels program at the Department of Aging.  The bill awaits a final vote in the Senate.

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Senate acts to save Illinois State Museum from Rauner closure


Senate Democrats passed a measure this week to stop Governor Rauner's planned closure of the Illinois State Museum.  The chamber approved the measure 40-9-5 this week to keep the 138-year-old museum in Springfield and its satellite locations open. AFSCME said employees received layoff notices from Rauner's office on Monday. Rauner says the closure is a part of his efforts to manage the state's budget crisis.


The bill is SB317. The measure now moves to the Illinois House for further action.

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