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GOVERNMENT RELATIONS


Alliance Legislative Report 98-09

Distributed via Email: March 15, 2013

LEGISLATURE NEARS FIRST DEADLINE

Lawmakers in the State Capitol continued to clear the way for bills through a maze of committees and sub-committees this week. Next Friday is the deadline for a bill to be considered in its house of origin: House bills must be discharged from a House committee and Senate bills must be approved by a Senate committee by next Friday to continue to proceed through the legislative process.

So both the House and Senate worked again on major issues, like firearms restrictions and pension reform, as well as slogging through the thousands of other pieces of legislation introduced this spring. And seemingly unaware of the current fiscal nightmare the state and school districts find themselves in, legislators in both chambers approved bill after bill this week that contained unfunded mandates on local school districts.

As nonsensical as it would appear, the week after lawmakers heard the governor call for another $300 million cut to local school districts, bills were flying out of the education committees with new provisions for school districts to train more employees, teach more students, add high school classes, and file more reports. Please continue to contact your state legislators and urge them to “vote no” on any bills that contain provisions for additional mandates and requirements for local school districts.

ACTION REQUIRED ON SPECIAL EDUCATION RULES

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has proposed new rules to ease arbitrary requirements and add flexibility for local school districts regarding the regulations for special education classroom sizes. Current ISBE regulations erode the school district’s authority to make the best local decisions for students with disabilities and other learning issues.

The recently proposed ISBE rule change would relax the special education classroom size requirements in Illinois, allowing for better choices regarding students with IEPs and more flexibility in local school district budgets. The current ISBE rules are much more stringent than either federal or state law, or federal regulations. This change would simply place Illinois school districts back in line with current federal law and regulations.

To view the rule in its entirety, please click here. The public comment period is open to provide input for this rule change. It is imperative that school board members, administrators, and principals submit written comments on this important issue. Letters can be sent to:

Shelley Helton
Agency Rules Coordinator
Illinois State Board of Education
100 North First Street, S-493
Springfield, Illinois 62777-0001


PENSION BILLS MOVING IN HOUSE AND SENATE

Pension overhaul proposals gained some traction this week as both the House of Representatives and Senate moved different proposals a step further in the process. For the last two weeks, the House has been debating amendments to pension bills on the chamber floor. On Thursday, the House approved HB 1166 (Madigan, D-Chicago) which will gradually increase the retirement age for current participants of the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) and three other state retirement systems. Significant action was also taken as HB 1154 (Madigan), a bill that caps pensionable salary at current levels or at the Social Security index (about $113,000), was also approved on the House floor. The salary cap bill passed overwhelmingly with 101 Representatives voting in the affirmative and only 15 against. Both measures now go to the Senate for consideration.

House Speaker Madigan has come under much scrutiny from Republicans for taking a piece-meal approach to the pension overhaul. That, too, changed this week when Republican Leader Tom Cross’s bill, HB 3411, was approved by a committee and sent to the House floor. The bill includes Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) changes, the creation of a Tier III system, increasing retirement age, and pension salary caps. Under Tier III, new school district employees would be under a “hybrid” pension plan that contains a 401(k) style plan with a defined benefit plan. Local school districts would be force to pick up all of the cost of the defined benefit plan under HB 3411.

On the other side of the Statehouse, the Senate Executive Committee approved two measures that would overhaul pensions in Illinois. SB 35 (Biss, D-Skokie) is similar to Cross’ HB 3411 but contains a stronger “cost shift” provision for local school districts and local taxpayers. SB 1 (Cullerton, D- Chicago) requires pension system members to make a choice between keeping health insurance or a compounding COLA. Both bills are now pending on the Senate floor.

Though passage of an individual pension reform bill is still likely weeks away, the momentum for such is as great as it has been in the Capitol. Now on record is both the House and the Senate, both Republicans and Democrats, voting for some type of pension reform. Stay tuned.

KEY BILLS THAT MOVED THIS WEEK

HB 3 (Chapa La Via, D-Aurora) extends the “sunset provision” by three years (from 2013 to 2016) that allows school districts to transfer monies from one fund to another. The bill, supported by the Alliance, was approved by the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee and was sent to the House floor for further consideration.

HB 310 (Ford, D-Chicago) creates a lottery scratch off for School Choice Scholarships, providing a private school voucher program with proceeds from the scratch off fund that would be directed toward the 20 regions where the most lottery tickets are sold. The bill, opposed by the Alliance, was approved by the House Revenue and Finance Committee and was sent to the House floor for further consideration.

HB 491 (McAsey, D-Romeoville) would require junior high and high school sports officials to complete and submit an injury report after each game if a player had to leave the field or court because of an injury. The bill, opposed by the Alliance, was discussed in the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee but no vote was taken and the bill remains in the Committee.

HB 1225 (Burke, D-Chicago) requires school districts to assure that all physical education teachers, trainers, coaches, and referees annually watch a training video on CPR and AEDs. The bill, opposed by the Alliance, was approved by the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee and was sent to the House floor for further consideration.

HB 2213 (Ford) sets up a special set of rights, support services, and due processes for students who are parents, expectant parents, or the victims of domestic or sexual violence. Special privileges must be given to such students regarding school placement, student transfers, expulsions and suspensions, home instruction, and additional support services. The bill, opposed by the Alliance, was approved by the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee and was sent to the House floor for further consideration.

HB 2245 (Chapa La Via) provides that upon employment and at least once every five years thereafter, school personnel, including substitute teachers, who work directly with students must complete mandated reporter training provided by an individual or agency with expertise in recognizing and reporting child abuse. The bill, opposed by the Alliance, was approved by the House of Representatives and was sent to the Senate for further consideration.

HB 2418 (Chapa La Via), an Alliance initiative, provides that certificates of nomination and nomination papers for the nomination of school board candidates shall be filed during the seven-day period beginning on the first Tuesday of December immediately preceding the consolidated election. The bill was approved by the House Executive Committee and was sent to the House floor for further consideration.

HB 2689 (Ives, R-Wheaton) requires school districts to place in writing and publish on the website the terms of a collective bargaining agreement once the agreement is reached between the school district and the teachers’ union. The bill, opposed by the Alliance, failed to receive the required number of votes in the House State Government and Administration Committee and the bill remains in the Committee.

HB 2747 (Conroy, D-Villa Park) allows for written Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to be submitted to a public body by electronic mail. The bill, opposed by the Alliance, was approved by the House State Government Administration Committee and was sent to the House floor for further consideration.

HB 2762 (Scherer, D-Decatur) lowers the compulsory school age from 7 years to 6 years. The bill, opposed by the Alliance, was approved by the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee and was sent to the House floor for further consideration.

HB 2880 (Ford) requires the ISBE to establish a standard student expulsion policy that applies to each school district. The bill, opposed by the Alliance, was approved by the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee and was sent to the House floor for further consideration.

HB 3065 (Fortner, R-West Chicago) requires high schools to increase graduation requirements by adding a year of math. The bill, opposed by the Alliance, failed to receive the required votes in the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee and the bill remains in the Committee.

HB 3070 (Farnham, D-Elgin) requires school guidance counselors, teachers, school social workers, and other school personnel to be trained to identify the warning signs of mental illness. The bill, o pposed by the Alliance, was approved by the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee and was sent to the House floor for further consideration.

SB 1894 (Hutchinson, D-Chicago Heights), as amended, increases the Senior Citizens Homestead Exemption to $5,000 in Cook County, $4,000 for all others, and increases it to $5,000 permanently after 2013. It also increases the General Homestead Exemption to $7,000 in Cook County and $6,000 in all other counties. The bill, opposed by the Alliance, was approved by the Senate Revenue Committee and was sent to the Senate floor for further consideration.

SB 1932 (Bivins, R-Dixon) requires a school board to consult with law enforcement and security experts in the design and planning stages of the construction of any new school building or additions. The bill, opposed by the Alliance, was approved by the Senate Education Committee and was sent to the Senate floor for further consideration.

SB 2213 (Sullivan, D-Rushville), an Alliance initiative, permits school districts to contract out for Drivers’ Education services. The bill failed to receive the required votes in the Senate Education Committee and was held in the Committee.

SB 2337 (McGuire, D-Joliet), an Alliance initiative, allows a school board, with referendum approval, to exempt the school district’s Health/Life Safety property tax levy from the scope of the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (PTELL). The bill was approved by the Senate Revenue Committee and was sent to the Senate floor for further consideration. Further amendments are expected that would place an expiration date on the provision and prohibit the Health/Life Safety funds from being transferred to any other fund.

OTHER BILL ACTION THIS WEEK

HB 946 (Yingling, D-Hainesville) creates the Young Adults Heroin Use Task Force to address the growing problem of heroin use in high schools across this State. The bill was approved by the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee and was sent to the House floor for further consideration.

HB 1446 (Zalewski, D-Chicago) requires that special education and related services be provided in accordance with the student's IEP no later than 10 school attendance days (instead of 10 days) after notice is provided to the parents. The bill was approved by the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee and was sent to the House floor for further consideration.

HB 2267 (Gordon-Booth, D-Peoria) makes numerous changes regarding school district reorganization, dissolution, and consolidation to facilitate school districts that wish to do so. The bill was approved by the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee and was sent to the House floor for further consideration.

HB 2386 (Bradley, D-Marion) requires school districts and community college districts to submit a Fiscal Responsibility Report Card to the State Comptroller and the county clerk of each county in which any part of the taxing district is located. The bill was approved by a House Revenue Subcommittee and was sent to the full House Revenue and Finance Committee for consideration.

HB 2420 (Chapa La Via) provides that a person who holds an active license issued by the State as a marriage and family therapist shall be deemed to have satisfied the continuing professional development requirements to renew a school service personnel certificate. In the Educator Licensure Article, includes marriage and family therapist as a school support personnel endorsement area that may be affixed to a Professional Educator License. The bill was approved by the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee and was sent to the House floor for further consideration.

HB 2631 (Chapa La Via) provides that any two or more school districts that share the same boundaries may combine transportation activities. The bill was discussed in the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee but no vote was taken and the bill remains in the Committee.

HB 2675 (Lilly, D-Chicago) provides that if an elementary or secondary public school offers sex education or sexual health education, it must be medically accurate and developmentally and age appropriate and requires the ISBE to provide resource materials for the curriculum. If a school district does not currently provide sex education, this bill does not require it and that if such instruction is offered, the district may choose and adapt the curriculum that meets the specific needs of its community. The bill was approved by the House Human Services Committee and was sent to the House floor for further consideration.

HB 2768 (Welch, D-Westchester) requires principals to utilize resources of proper law enforcement agencies when the safety and welfare of students and teachers are threatened by illegal use or possession of weapons or by illegal gang activity. The bill was discussed in the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee but no vote was taken and the bill remains in the Committee.

HB 2852 (Conroy) requires school boards to develop and implement a policy for notifying parents of students who use a school bus stop located within 500 feet of the residence of a registered sex offender. The bill failed to receive the required votes in the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee and the bill remains in the Committee.

HB 2930 (Unes, R-Pekin) allows for FOIA requests to be submitted via e-mail and allows for the public body to respond to such requests via e-mail. The bill was approved by the House State Government Administration Committee and was sent to the House floor for further consideration.

HB 2931 (Ives), concerning transportation to and from specified interscholastic or school-sponsored activities, does not apply to students with disabilities who are receiving transportation for curriculum- related activities as part of the student's individualized educational program. The bill was discussed in the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee but no vote was taken and the bill remains in the Committee.

HB 2966 (Costello, D-Red Bud) requires the ISBE to establish a bullying hotline. The bill was approved by the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee and was sent to the House floor for further consideration.

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. The bill was approved by the Senate Education Committee and was sent to the Senate floor for further consideration.

SB 1228 (Link, D-Vernon Hills) provides that the school’s custodian of funds has right to legal counsel of the school district’s choosing when a tax objection complaint is filed, instead of representation by the State’s Attorney. The bill was approved by the Senate Revenue Committee and was sent to the Senate floor for further consideration.

SB 1622 (Noland, D-Elgin) creates the Office of the Education Ombudsman within the Office of the Governor for the purposes of providing information to parents, students, and others regarding their rights and responsibilities with respect to public schools. The bill was approved by the Senate Education Committee and was sent to the Senate floor for further consideration.

SB 1633 (Jones III, E., D-Chicago) provides that if a property tax refund arose after 1992 the claim must be filed within 20 years after the right to the refund arose and requires county collectors to maintain records for 20 years. The bill, opposed by the Alliance, was approved by the Senate Revenue Committee and was sent to the Senate floor for further consideration.

SB 1931 (Bivins) creates the School Security and Standards Task Force to study the security of schools. The bill, opposed by the Alliance, was approved by the Senate Education Committee and was sent to the Senate floor for further consideration.

SB 1951 (Althoff, R-McHenry) transfers 25% of certain surplus funds to the Common School Fund. The bill was approved by the Senate Revenue Committee and was sent to the Senate floor for further consideration.

SB 2182 (Harmon, D-Oak Park), as amended, added school districts to the Comptroller's unit of local governments registry. The bill was approved by the Senate Revenue Committee and was sent to the Senate floor for further consideration.

SB 2199 (Frerichs, D-Champaign) removes a provision that prohibits a candidate for licensure from beginning an internship or residency required for licensure until he or she has passed the applicable content area test. The bill was approved by the Senate Education Committee and was sent to the Senate floor for further consideration.

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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