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GOVERNMENT RELATIONS


Alliance Legislative Report 97-29

Distributed via Email: October 20, 2011

LEGISLATORS RETURNING TO THE CAPITOL

The Illinois General Assembly reconvenes next week in the Fall Veto Session. Lawmakers will be in session October 25-27 to discuss the governor’s vetoes, budget matters, and any other issues legislative leaders deem important, possibly a new gaming bill and pension reform. The legislature is also scheduled for Veto Session November 8-10.

BUDGET DECISIONS

Legislators will have to tackle the Fiscal Year 2012 state budget again. This summer, Governor Pat Quinn made a series of cuts to the budget that the legislature approved in May. Specifically for public schools, the governor cut an additional $89 million from student transportation and over $11 million for Regional Offices of Education (ROE) salaries and services.

By all indications, House Speaker Michael Madigan will back the governor on the ROE salary cuts. He has introduced a bill (HB 3828) that would require that the Regional Superintendents of Schools (and their assistants) have their salaries paid out of Corporate Personal Property Replacement Tax (CPPRT) funds instead of from State General Revenue Funds. More information on the bill can be found in the last Alliance Legislative Report here.

It is assumed, then, that the Speaker will not allow for a vote on an override motion of the governor’s budget veto of the ROE salaries. It is unclear at this point whether there will be an override motion on the governor’s reduction veto of the transportation funding.

The Alliance supports an override of both of these actions taken by the governor, thus allowing for the reinstating of the $89 million in transportation funding and for the ROE salaries to be paid out of state funds.

PENSION REFORM

It is not known at this time whether there will be legislation forwarded in the Veto Session regarding pension reform. Discussions have been ongoing regarding proposals for: changing the pension benefits of persons currently participating in the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS), shifting the cost of pensions from the state to the local school district, raising the contribution rate of those currently working within the TRS system, or creating some type of hybrid pension system which combines the current “defined benefit” plan with a “defined contribution” plan. There has been no consensus from any of the four pension “working groups” on supporting a single proposal, let alone an agreement from the entire pension reform group or a legislative body. The pension working groups will be meeting again next week, presumably to decide how the groups will proceed and whether legislation will be submitted.

The Alliance opposes changing pension benefits of employees currently participating in the TRS system or shifting the pension costs onto the local school district.

GAMING EXPANSION

In the spring legislative session, the legislature approved a bill that expands gaming throughout the state and would bring in an estimated $200 million in new revenues to the Education Assistance Fund. SB 744 (Link, D-Vernon Hills) would have established a land-based casino in Chicago, added four more riverboat casinos, and allowed for slot machines at horse racetracks. Though the bill was approved by both chambers of the legislature, the bill was never sent to the governor for approval as he had expressed reservations about signing the bill.

This week the governor articulated some of his concerns about the gaming bill, and legislators are now working on making changes to the original proposal. It is too early to tell whether lawmakers and the governor can reach an agreement on a gaming proposal; but supporters will be working feverishly in the next two or three weeks to enact a gaming measure.

CONSOLIDATION COMMISSION UPDATE

The School District Realignment and Consolidation Commission, now known as the “Classrooms First Commission”, is scheduled to meet for a second time on Friday (October 21) from 1:00 to 3:30 at the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) office in Springfield. The public is welcome to attend. Doors open a half-hour before the meeting and a public comment period is scheduled for the last 30 minutes of the meeting. The commission met for the first time on September 29.

The second public hearing of the commission is scheduled for Monday, October 24, from 4:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Heartland Community College in Normal. Doors will open at 4:00. Anyone wishing to give public comment will need to sign in and are encouraged to bring written testimony. Each speaker will be given five minutes to speak.

School board members, administrators, and others are encouraged to participate in these public hearings and explain your views on school district consolidation, realignment, and efficiencies.

More information on the commission can be found here.

SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE DISCUSSES DRIVER’S EDUCATION

The Senate Education Committee met Wednesday in Chicago for a “Subject Matter Only” hearing on “Oversight of Driver’s Education Programs”. Senators seem to be targeting behind-the-wheel driver’s instruction provided by private contractors, and pushing a standardized curricula and expanded reporting by districts on program costs. No legislation has yet been submitted on the issue for the fall Veto Session, but Alliance lobbyists are watching the matter closely.

COMMITTEES SCHEDULED FOR NEXT WEEK

HOUSE PERSONNEL AND PENSIONS COMMITTEE
Monday, October 24, 2:00 p.m., Room 114, State Capitol

HB 3813 (Cross, R-Oswego) , for the Chicago Municipal, Chicago Laborers, and Chicago Teachers Articles of the Illinois Pension Code, provides that, for certain leaves of absence during which a participant is employed by a labor organization, contributions shall be based upon the participant's regular salary (rather than the salary received from the organization).

HOUSE REVENUE COMMITTEE
Monday, October 24, 3:00 p.m., Room 115, State Capitol

HB 3828 (Madigan, D-Chicago) requires that salaries for regional superintendents are paid out of local Corporate Personal Property Replacement Tax revenues instead of State General Revenue Funds.

SB 1335 (Koehler, D-Peoria) p rovides that a board of review may enter into discussions with a property taxpayer aimed at achieving a stipulated revised assessment upon the property. The bill also contains provisions concerning notice provided to taxing districts and property tax objections.

SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE
Tuesday, October 25, 2:00 p.m., Room 409, State Capitol

Subject Matter:             Fall 2011 Mandate Waiver applications

HOUSE ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION COMMITTEE
Tuesday, October 25, 2:00 p.m., Room 114, State Capitol

HJR 41 (Chapa La Via, D-Aurora) p roclaims the month of October as Dyslexia Awareness Month in the State of Illinois.

HJR 42 (Chapa La Via) urges school districts to improve support resources for involvement of parents in their education of their children.

HJR 44 (Chapa La Via) is the resolution that will be used for the denial of specific mandate waiver requests.

SB 1795 (Lightford, D-Maywood) has an amendment filed regarding private business and vocational schools.

HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS – ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION
Tuesday, October 25, 2:30 p.m., Room C-1, Stratton Office Building

HB 3847 (Madigan) appropriates the $11 million necessary to fund the salaries and services

associated with the Regional Offices of Education. The appropriations are funded from Corporate Personal Property Replacement Tax revenues.

HOUSE REVENUE AND FINANCE COMMITTEE
Tuesday, October 25, 2:30 p.m., Room 115, State Capitol

HB 3793 (Franks, D-Woodstock) p rovides that, if the total equalized assessed value (EAV) of all taxable property in the taxing district for the current levy year is less than the total EAV of all taxable property in the taxing district for the previous levy year, then the extension limitation is (a) 0% or (b) the rate of increase approved by voters.

HOUSE PERSONNEL AND PENSIONS COMMITTEE
Tuesday, October 25, 3:00 p.m., Room D-1, Stratton Office Building

HB 3815 (May, D-Highland Park) addresses employees’ leaves of absence during which a participant is employed by a labor organization and how this affects state pensions.

HB 3827 (Cross) addresses alleged fraudulent activity by members of a board of trustees of a retirement system or pension fund.

HB 3832 (Cross) addresses employees’ leaves of absence during which a participant is employed by a labor organization and how this affects state pensions.

SB 1673 (Raoul, D-Chicago) makes changes to the Cook County Article of the Illinois Pension Code.

OTHER BILL INTRODUCTIONS

HB 603 (Madigan) , with the amendment filed by Representative Will Davis (D-Homewood), would require school districts to purchase insurance that would cover students who sustain an injury that results in medical expenses of $50,000 or more if the injury resulted from participating in an athletic activity under the jurisdiction of the school district. Under the language of the amendment, the coverage must not be “subject to any annual or lifetime maximum benefit”.

HB 605 (Madigan) , with an amendment filed by Representative Chapa La Via, contains the language for the newly revamped school district report card. The text of the bill can be found here.

HB 3826 (Chapa La Via) defines “service animal” in the School Code and changes provisions that require school districts to allow service dogs in schools to a provision that requires school districts to make reasonable accommodations for students.

HB 3833 (Mayfield, D-Waukegan) amends the Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act to allow school boards and local public entities to levy a tort immunity tax for the purpose of paying judgments and settlements under the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 and the Environmental Protection Act until December 31, 2014 (instead of December 31, 2010).

HB 3844 (Harris, R-Arlington Heights) provides that a multi-function school activity bus (MFSAB) may be used to transport students for any curriculum-related activity except for transportation from home to school or from school to home. It must be operated by a holder of a school bus driver permit and is subject to certain provisions concerning contractual student transfer arrangements, contracts requiring school bus driver permits, liability insurance, and safety testing.

This legislative report is written and edited by the lobbyists of the Illinois Association of School Boards to provide information to the members of the organizations that comprise the Illinois Statewide School Management Alliance.

Bill Text/Status: Illinois General Assembly www.ilga.gov


Alliance Legislative Reports are Cosponsored by IASB and:
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