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GOVERNMENT RELATIONS


Alliance Legislative Report 98-05

Distributed via Email: February 22, 2013

The Illinois House of Representatives this week made slow progress in getting through the thousands of bills that are being assigned to substantive committees for consideration. But House lawmakers have time as there is still another month before a bill must be discharged from a House committee. Next Tuesday is the deadline for House members to introduce bills this spring.

The Senate was not in session this week. Next week the Senate will convene Wednesday through Friday while the House will be in session Tuesday through Friday. A busier committee week is expected as sponsors have had more time to prepare to call their bills for a committee vote.

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THIS WEEK

SPECIAL EDUCATION RULES

State Superintendent of Education Chris Koch led the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) to a significant vote regarding special education rules and regulations. Dr. Koch had stated earlier in the month that ISBE needs to dramatically change current special education class size rules to give local school districts more flexibility in staffing, educational programming, and budgeting. On Wednesday, the board voted 5-1 in favor of repealing those sections of the Administrative Code that places strict regulations on class sizes based on the presence of students with an Individualized Education Program (IEP). These stringent guidelines do not exist in federal law or federal regulations, nor even in State law, but in the administrative rules adopted by ISBE. ISBE’s action this week, the first step in repealing those class size restrictions, displays recognition of the difficult fiscal times for local school districts and a proactive measure for assisting school boards and administrators in providing the best possible educational opportunities with limited budgets.

The next step is for ISBE to submit the proposed rule changes to the Illinois Register for public comment. At this time, school board members, administrators, business officials, and principals will be called upon to submit written comments in support of this important proposal.

NEW PENSION PROPOSAL

Yet another bill was introduced to “reform” Illinois’ public pension systems. Representative Lou Lang (D-Skokie) submitted HB 2375 this week that would affect all five state pension systems. The proposal would increase the minimum retirement age to 67 years old for current employees who are members of the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS), but the bill includes no cap on pensionable salaries and no changes in the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA). The employees’ contribution to the retirement system would increase by 3% over five years.

The proposal also re-structures the “pension ramp” – the yearly amount the state must pay to cover the unfunded liability of the pension system – so that the system is funded at 80% over 50 years. On the revenue side, the bill would make permanent the “temporary” income tax increase that is set to partially expire in 2015, implying that those funds would be earmarked for the pension systems.

The bill has been assigned to the Rules Committee in the House.

CONCEALED CARRY OF FIREARMS

Local school districts are not immune to the effects of the raging debate in the Capitol regarding firearms. With factions becoming more clearly defined as either supporters of a law to allow for concealed carry of firearms, or opponents of concealed carry and supporters of even stronger gun control measures, local school districts are often part of the discussion.

At a hearing this week in the House Judiciary Committee, the subject was broached again about whether, or under what conditions, would a firearm be allowed in a school or on school property. It was obvious that participants on both sides of the gun issue were at the hearing to “stake out their territory” on the gun issue and that the questions about schools were not going to be decided on this day. At the request of the committee, the Alliance testified that as the discussions move forward, school management must be involved when discussing school safety and concealed carry laws as they affect school property and that the special interests on either side of this issue cannot be making these decisions alone as they relate to schools and student safety.

ALLIANCE INITIATIVES

Based on the position statements and legislative committee recommendations of the individual Alliance organizations, the following bills have been introduced on behalf of the Alliance.

SB 1466 (McCarter) exempts school districts from the scope of the Prevailing Wage Law.

SB 1875 ( Manar) adds flexibility and accountability regarding bidding for architects and engineers.

SB 2213 (Sullivan) permits school districts to contract out for drivers’ education services.

SB 2321 ( Bertino-Tarrant) allows for P.E. waivers for members of a high school show choir.

HB 3 (Chapa La Via) extends the expiration date for authority to perform interfund transfers.

HB 1586 (Chapa La Via) makes changes to selection of providers for school board member training.

HB 2660 ( Davis, W.) adjusts the school funding formula for school districts with charter schools.  

Bill numbers are not yet available for the following Alliance initiatives:

  • A package of proposals designed to give flexibility to school districts under PTELL
  • Bills on school board election filing deadlines and at-large election of school boards
  • Repeal of the 3 rd party contracting restrictions on school districts
  • An accommodation for local community businesses bidding on school district projects
  • Legislation to give school districts flexibility under current School Code mandates

OTHER BILL ACTION THIS WEEK

HB 192 (Jackson, Sr., D-East St. Louis) provides that, in addition to all other authority to issue bonds, Smithton Community Consolidated School District 130 may issue bonds with an aggregate principal amount not to exceed $15 million if certain conditions are met. The bill was approved by the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee and was sent to the House floor for consideration.

HB 194 (Chapa LaVia, D-Aurora) allows the city councils of Rockford, Aurora, and East St. Louis to each create a promise zone which p rovides private funds sufficient to provide each eligible student who resides within the promise zone and who graduates from a public high school located within that promise zone with the tuition necessary to obtain an associate degree or its equivalent at the local community college. The bill was approved by the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee and was sent to the House floor for consideration.

HB 1002 (Chapa LaVia) adds a school service personnel certificate holder as a member of the State Educator Preparation and Licensure Board. The bill was approved by the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee and was sent to the House floor for consideration.

HB 1247 ( D’Amico, D-Chicago) prohibits the use of a cell phone while driving an automobile unless it is being used as a hands free device. The bill was approved by the House Transportation: Vehicles and Safety Committee and was sent to the House floor for consideration.

BILLS SCHEDULED FOR COMMITTEE NEXT WEEK

HOUSE ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION COMMITTEE
Wednesday, Feb 27, 8 a.m., Room D-1, Stratton Office Building

HB 1446 ( Zalewski, D-Riverside) requires that special education and related services be provided in accordance with a student’s IEP no later than 10 days after notice is provided to the parents.

HB 1450 ( Crespo, D-Streamwood) provides that a school district must spend at least 65% of its total operating expenditures on direct classroom expenditures and if a school district's direct classroom expenditures for the 2013-2014 school year are less than 65% of its total operating expenditures, then the district must increase its direct classroom expenditures by at least 2 percentage points per school year beginning with the 2014-2015 school year until at least 65% of the district's total operating expenditures are spent on direct classroom expenditures.

HB 1504 (Kay, R-Edwardsville) provides that through June 30, 2016 (instead of June 30, 2013), surplus life safety taxes and interest earnings thereon may be transferred to the Operations and Maintenance Fund for building repair work if a public hearing has been held.

HB 1558 ( Reboletti, R-Addison) provides that certain portions of the Vittoria Brooke Estates and Chateaus of Medinah subdivisions in the Village of Bloomingdale shall be included within the boundaries of Bloomingdale School District #13 and Lake Park Community High School District #108 and shall cease to be within the boundaries of Marquardt School District #15 and Glenbard Township High School District #87.

SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE
Wednesday, Feb. 27, 1 p.m., Room 400, State Capitol

SB 84 ( Luechtefeld, R- Okawville) makes changes in how a school district deposits and accounts for teacher certification registration costs and back fees.

SB 1221 ( Martinez, D-Chicago) establishes the State Seal of Biliteracy program to recognize public high school graduates who have attained a high level of proficiency in listening, speaking, reading, and writing in one or more languages in addition to English.

SB 1248 (Murphy, R-Palatine) establishes the School Choice Program that allows a custodian of a qualifying Chicago Public Schools pupil to receive a School Choice Voucher to pay for qualified education expenses at a Chicago nonpublic elementary school.

SB 1274 (Silverstein, D-Chicago) r equires the Department of Public Health and the State Board of Education to develop and post on their publicly accessible Internet websites guidelines and other relevant materials to inform and educate students participating in an athletic activity, their parents, and their coaches about the nature and warning signs of sudden cardiac arrest. It contains new requirements on student athletes, coaches, and game officials, including mandatory training for coaches, and requires school districts to establish penalties for violations of the new requirements

SB 1307 ( Lightford, D-Chicago) lowers the compulsory school attendance age from 7 years to 5 years.

SB 1362 (Collins, J., D-Chicago) allows school districts that comply with the newly enacted law requiring the instruction of sexual abuse and assault awareness in grades K-5, to opt out of complying with another instructional mandate in the School Code that requires an equal amount of instruction time and has a lesser value.

SB 1397 (Dillard, R-Westmont) provides that the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy shall develop an additional residential campus in a county with a population less than 400,000.

HOUSE REVENUE AND FINANCE COMMITTEE
Tuesday, Feb. 26, 3 p.m., Room 115, State Capitol

HB 1492 (Kay) increases the maximum income limitation under the Senior Citizens Assessment Freeze Homestead Exemption from $55,000 to $75,000 for applicants who have occupied the residence for 5 years or more.

HB 1493 (Kay) and HB 1503 (Kay) allow taxpayers eligible for the Senior Citizens Assessment Freeze Homestead Exemption or a Senior Citizens Homestead Exemption to receive the exemption without reapplying once the person turns 70 years of age.

HB 1494 (Kay) includes disabled persons within the provisions granting an assessment freeze homestead exemption to senior citizens.

HB 1496 (Kay) for counties not under property tax caps, the registered voters within the county may file a petition with the county clerk requesting the county board to submit to the voters the question of whether to make all non-home rule taxing districts that have all or a portion of their equalized assessed valuation situated in the county subject to the law.

HB 1499 (Kay) and HB 1521 (Kay) provide that, beginning in taxable year 2013 and concluding in taxable year 2017, the county clerk shall reduce the property taxes levied by each taxing district to a level that is not greater than that taxing district's levy in the previous taxable year.

HB 1501 (Kay) increases the maximum reduction under the Senior Citizens Homestead Exemption from $4,000 to $7,000 for taxable year 2013 and indexes the reduction to the Consumer Price Index.

HB 1527 ( Unes, R- Pekin) requires PAYGO budgeting to provide that if a Public Act requires additional spending from state funds, then no appropriation for the additional spending required may be obligated or expended unless the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability certifies to the state comptroller that the same or another Public Act specifically identifies adequate decreases in expenditures or enhancements in revenues to completely offset the additional spending.

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 Statewide School Management Alliance.

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


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