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GOVERNMENT RELATIONS


Alliance Legislative Report 98-16

Distributed via Email: May 10, 2013

TURNING UP THE HEAT

With only a few weeks left before the scheduled adjournment of the Illinois General Assembly, pressure is building around the key remaining legislative issues. Discussions have intensified, and in many cases votes have been taken, on significant pending issues. For schools, the Fiscal Year 2014 state budget and pension reform are the premier issues; other matters include concealed carry of firearms, expanded gaming, medical use of marijuana, and gay marriage.

PENSION DEBATE AT FOREFRONT

House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) followed up his pension reform bill from last week with a new push to shift the “normal costs” of the teachers’ pension system onto local school district budgets. A meeting was held Thursday in the House of Representatives to discuss the matter, though no specific legislation containing cost shift language was presented. Speaker Madigan presided over the meeting with members of the House Personnel and Pensions Committee in attendance, stating that the cost shift is something “that is going to happen”. Upon request of the speaker’s office, the Alliance testified on the proposal, laying out the detrimental effect of such a plan – especially if no revenue source is provided to cover the new costs.

Discussions are expected to continue on the issue next week.

Meanwhile in the Senate this week, after Speaker Madigan gutted a pension bill (SB 1) last week and added his personal pension reform plan (see www.iasb.com/govrel/alr9815.cfm), Senators approved a pension reform bill that has support from the labor unions. SB 2404 ( Cullerton, D-Chicago) implements the “election” provisions that have been a part of all of Senate President John Cullerton’s pension legislation – giving both active employees and current annuitants the “choice” to keep a compounding Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) by giving up some other retirement benefits. The “choices” under the union-backed bill are not as drastic as those in earlier versions of pension legislation. A summary of the pension choices can be found here.

The “election” provisions of the bill are meant to help meet the constitutional requirements regarding pension diminishments. Many believe that the House pension bill is unconstitutional because it unilaterally alters pension benefits. House bill sponsors added a lengthy preamble to SB 1 in an effort to frame the pension issue as a unique state budget crisis in which the pension reforms actually save the pension systems from insolvency and, therefore, is the opposite of a diminishment.

At some point the House and Senate will have to agree on one pension proposal and pass the same bill.

SCHOOL BOARD REMOVAL BILL PASSES ; REVISIONS MADE

The bill that would allow the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) to remove elected school board members was approved by the Senate Thursday, but not before key revisions were made to the bill as requested by the Alliance. SB 2340 ( Steans, D-Chicago) would make the school board of certain low performing school districts eligible for removal. Upon removal from office, the ISBE would appoint an “Independent Authority” to take over all functions of the school board.

In the early discussions with ISBE regarding this legislation and based on the current statute regarding removal of school board members, over 70 Illinois school districts were or would have been eligible for board removal without specific criteria or standards that would have triggered such a process. Based on changes made to the bill by the Alliance, now just over 30 school districts would make the initial ISBE list of schools subject to possible board removal. The Alliance worked with ISBE and the bill sponsor to develop specific, transparent behaviors describing poor governance that are related to Illinois school board requirements and expectations. It is expected that with this criteria, only a handful of the poorest performing school boards would be subject to the ISBE sanctions.

Also, in both the existing statute and the original language of SB 2340, there were no timelines for the establishment – or abolishment – of the Independent Authority and school board elections were “suspended” indefinitely. With the language changes requested by the Alliance, now there are specific timelines for a quicker and detailed process in order to return to local school board governance and elections in the cases where there is school board removal.

Some Alliance revisions to the bill include:

  • providing a known, documented, and transparent process to remove board members
  • adding specific criteria in the law that relates to how school boards operate and govern in Illinois
  • provisions stating that removal of board members could only be triggered by actions specifically related to Illinois school board requirements or expectations indicative of bad board governance such as failure to protect school district assets because of fraud, misappropriation, or neglect; failure to implement sound hiring practices and ignoring conflicts of interest in hiring and purchasing, ignoring bidding laws, etc.; or failure to abide by legal and ethical practices
  • narrowing the  list of school boards affected by including only the 5% lowest performing districts, which have been on the academic watch status for three years, then failed accreditation because of specific governance issues
  • requiring that a majority of Independent Authority members must be residents of the district throughout the process that results in the reinstatement of an elected board
  • allowing existing school board members to be named to the Independent Authority
  • allowing existing school board members who have been removed to run for office again in the future
  • requiring the State Superintendent and Independent Authority to report on its progress of these interventions and require the State Superintendent to forward the report to local officials
  • allowing individual board members to be entitled to a hearing, represented by legal counsel, before the ISBE could remove any board member
  • allowing a school board member who is not removed after the hearing to be reimbursed for all legal fees incurred
  • removing language that guaranteed a school district with an appointed Independent Authority to be granted full foundation level while other districts might be pro-rated
  • removing language that allowed school board elections to be “suspended” indefinitely when an Independent Authority is named
  • adding a specific process for electing a new school board to replace the Independent Authority
  • requiring the members of the Independent Authority to meet the same requirements as elected school board members, including residency and training requirements
  • setting defined timelines for creation of – and abolition of –   the Independent Authority

The bill, which has been sent to the House of Representatives for further consideration, is far from perfect legislation but has been significantly improved.

HOT BILL ACTION THIS WEEK

HB 494 (Chapa LaVia, D-Aurora) provides that, from April 1, 2013 through April 1, 2014, there is a moratorium on the establishment of charter schools with virtual-schooling components in school districts other than the Chicago school district. The bill, supported by the Alliance, was approved by the Senate Education Committee and was sent to the Senate floor for further consideration.

HB 2213 (Ford, D-Chicago) 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, home instruction, expulsions and suspensions . The bill, opposed by the Alliance, was approved by the Senate Education Committee and was sent to the Senate floor for further consideration.

HB 2418 (Chapa La Via) 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, an Alliance initiative, was approved by the Senate Executive Committee and was sent to the Senate floor for further consideration.

HB 3063 (Roth, R-Morris) provides that if a first-year principal evaluates teachers where the evaluation plan provides for a teacher in contractual continued service to be evaluated once in the course of every two school years, then a new 2-year evaluation plan must be established. The bill, opposed by the Alliance, was approved by the Senate Education Committee and was sent to the Senate floor for further consideration.

HB 3232 (Gordon-Booth, D-Peoria) allows for a local bidder preference when competitively bidding. The bill, an Alliance initiative, was approved by the Senate Education Committee and was sent to the Senate floor for further consideration.

HB 3379 ( Tabares, D-Chicago) requires adoption of a new policy on teen dating violence. The bill, opposed by the Alliance, was approved by the Senate Education Committee and was sent to the Senate floor for further consideration.

SB 1366 ( Biss, D-Skokie) provides that the early retirement without discount option is extended to July 1, 2016 with certain changes: increases the required employee and employer contributions; requires retirement before July 1, 2016; and requires the employee to obtain the approval of the last employer, granted in accordance with criteria adopted by that employer with the mutual consent of the bargaining agent of a majority of the members employed by that employer. The bill was approved by the House Personnel and Pensions Committee and was sent to the House floor for consideration.

SB 1931 ( Bivins, R-Dixon) creates the School Security and Standards Task Force to study the security of schools. The bill was approved by the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee and was sent to the House floor for further consideration.

SB 2178 (Harris, D-Harvey) requires public school districts that have a high school to provide catastrophic accident insurance coverage with a maximum of $3 million or 5 years of coverage for student athletes who sustain an accidental injury while participating in school-sponsored athletic events sanctioned by the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) that results in medical expenses in excess of $50,000. The bill was approved by the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee and was sent to the House floor for further consideration.

OTHER BILL ACTION THIS WEEK

HB 64 (Ford) , as amended, requires an elementary or secondary school to provide notification to a student and the student’s parents/guardian that the school may request or require a student to provide a password to gain access to an account or profile on a social networking website. The bill was approved by the Senate and will be sent to the Governor for his consideration.

HB 129 (Welch, D-Westchester) permits a school board to designate the first Monday in October of each year "Bring Your Parents to School Day" when parents are allowed to attend class with their children and meet with teachers and administrators during the school day. The bill was approved by the Senate Education Committee and was sent to the Senate floor for further consideration.

HB 160 ( Osmond, R-Antioch) gives more flexibility regarding interfund transfers to school districts who are under the limitations of PTELL and contains provisions that only apply to Zion Elementary School District. The bill was approved by the Senate and will be sent to the Governor for his consideration.

HB 192 (Jackson, Sr., D-East St. Louis) , as amended, allows Township High School District 113 to issue bonds that become due within 25 (instead of 40) years. The bill was approved by the Senate Revenue Committee and was sent to the Senate floor for further consideration.

HB 490 (Davis, M., D-Chicago) requires applicants seeking a Professional Educator License or an Educator License with Stipulations to pass a basic skills test, if required, before the license is issued (instead of before they may be admitted to an education preparation program). The bill was approved by the Senate Education Committee and was sent to the Senate floor for further consideration.

HB 496 (Chapa La Via) , as amended, makes various changes regarding teacher licensure renewal. The bill was approved by the Senate and was sent back to the House of Representatives for concurrence in the Senate amendment.

HB 513 ( DeLuca, D-Chicago Heights) , as amended,makes changes regarding candidates who have been admitted to an alternative teacher certification program. The bill was approved by the Senate Higher Education Committee and was sent to the Senate floor for further consideration.

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 Senate Education Committee and was sent to the Senate floor for further consideration.

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

HB 2322 (Chapa La Via) allows for School Social Work to include services for establishing and delivering anti-bullying programs. The bill was approved by the Senate Education Committee and was sent to the Senate floor for further consideration.

HB 2420 (Chapa La Via) allows school districts to employ a person who holds an active license issued by the State as a marriage and family therapist. The bill was approved by the Senate Education Committee and was sent to the Senate floor for further consideration.

HB 2428 (Conroy, D-Villa Park) requires the ISBE to establish a Task Force on Civic Education. The bill was approved by the Senate Education Committee and was sent to the Senate floor for further consideration.

HB 2590 ( Sandack, R-Downers Grove) provides that an employer may seek an order of protection to prohibit further violence or threats of violence by a person if: (1) the employee has suffered unlawful violence or a credible threat of violence from the person; and (2) the unlawful violence has been carried out at the employee's place of work or the credible threat of violence can reasonably be constructed to be carried out at the employee's place of work by the person. The bill, supported by the Alliance, was approved by the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee and was sent to the Senate floor for further consideration.

HB 2775 (Moffitt, R-Galesburg) designates the second Wednesday in May of each year as a commemorative holiday for Mother Mary Ann Bickerdyke Day, honor military nurses, and the contribution of nurses to the State of Illinois. The bill was approved by the Senate and will be sent to the Governor for his consideration.

HB 3075 (Lang, D-Skokie) provides that the Department of Public Health, in consultation with the ISBE, shall establish an auditory-visual integration assessment pilot program in selected school districts in the northern region of the State, to be determined by the State Board of Education. The bill,opposed by the Alliance, was approved by the Senate Public Health Committee with the agreement that it would be amended to address Alliance concerns.

HB 3133 (Franks, D-Woodstock) , as amended, p rovides that the appropriations for the State aid formula and the foundation level shall be a lump sum. The bill was approved by the Senate Executive Committee and was sent to the Senate floor for further consideration.

HB 3190 ( Osmond),as amended, requires students entering grades 6 th and 12 th grade to be immunized for meningococcal conjugate. The bill was approved by the Senate Public Health Committee and was sent to the Senate floor for further consideration.

HB 3223 ( Beiser, D-Alton) requires contractors to include in record keeping the gross and net wage, hourly overtime rate, fringe benefit rates, and the sponsor and administrator of fringe benefit plans. The bill, opposed by the Alliance, was approved by the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee and was sent to the Senate floor for further consideration.

SB 84 ( Luechtefeld, R- Okawville) makes changes in how a school district deposits and accounts for teacher certification registration costs and back fees. The bill was approved by the House of Representatives and will be sent to the Governor for his consideration.   

SB 923 (Munoz, D-Chicago) as amended, allows schools to install cameras on school buses to record images of vehicles that pass the school bus while engaged in receiving or disembarking students.  It requires the municipality and school district to post information regarding this use on their websites.  The bill was approved by the House Executive Committee and sent to the House floor for further consideration.

SB 1703 ( Haine, D-Alton) adds October 7 ( Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Remembrance Day) as a commemorative holiday. The bill was approved by the House of Representatives and will be sent to the Governor for his consideration.

SB 1737 (Rose, R-Mahomet) provides that if a taxpayer is notified before October 1 that he or she owes an arrearage of taxes due to administrative error then the county may send a separate bill which may be due no sooner than 30 days after the next installment of taxes. The bill was approved by the House Revenue and Finance Committee and was sent to the House floor for final action.

SB 1762 ( Lightford, D-Maywood) makes agreed changes to clean-up the Education Reform Act. The bill was approved by the Senate and was sent to the House of Representatives 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 House Revenue and Finance Committee and was sent to the House floor for final action.

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

SB 2339 ( Mulroe, D-Chicago) , as amended,  provides that if a joint insurance pool requires a member to submit written notice in order for the member to withdraw from a qualified pool, then the period in which the member must provide the written notice cannot, except in certain circumstances, be greater than 120 days.   The bill was approved by the House Insurance Committee and was sent to the House 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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