LEGISLATURE RETURNS FOR VETO SESSIONThe Illinois General Assembly was back in Springfield this week to begin the fall veto session. In most years, the House and Senate take on a mix of veto overrides, new proposals, or unfinished business from the spring.
However, with only a handful of gubernatorial vetoes from the spring session and with the recent announcements of legislators being arrested on corruption charges, normal legislative issues were set aside for most of the week. For observers, media, and watchdog groups, it was the scandal allegations that were on their minds.
Some new and unfinished business from the spring did get discussed. Several pieces of legislation that could impact schools moved forward in the legislative process, but only two bills were advanced to the governor’s desk. If legislative leadership is so inclined, there are meatier issues to tackle if they want to attempt it in in this short time frame. Discussions have taken place on revising the gaming legislation enacted this summer (especially the Chicago-based casino) and the recreational cannabis law. There are also groups working on property tax relief proposals, pension reform, and governmental ethics enhancements.
The General Assembly adjourned for the first week of the veto session on Wednesday. Lawmakers will return November 12-14 to conclude legislative business for the year.
One of the most discussed bills of the week, Senate Bill 1784 (Harmon, D-Oak Park), will impact school districts and how they communicate to their employees. SB 1784 is a response from organized labor to the Janus decision handed down by the United States Supreme Court. In the Janus case, the Supreme Court declared that public employees were not required to pay any union dues if they did not wish to do so. While state law cannot override the Janus decision, there are several items in SB 1784 that will require additional communication from school districts to bargaining units and will also restrict communications with employees. The bill requires school districts to provide to the bargaining unit representative “any home and personal cellular telephone numbers on file with the employer” every month. The legislation also requires any employee with questions about union membership to be directed to the bargaining unit representative. Once an employee has joined the union that employee will have one 10-day window per year in which he or she can revoke his or her union membership. SB 1784 passed the House and will head back to the Senate for concurrence. The legislation will most likely be taken up during the second week of veto session scheduled to begin November 12th.
OTHER VETO ACTIONSB 10 (Manar, D-Bunker Hill) was amended to reinstate the requirement for para-professionals to pass a competency test to receive an educator endorsement for licensure and directs the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) to adopt rules to implement the test. The bill is awaiting action by the House of Representatives and then must be taken up by the Senate for final passage.
SB 1809 (DeWitte, R-West Dundee), for college students seeking teaching licensure, the bill extends Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants for an additional year to students agreeing to teach for three years in Illinois. The bill is assigned to the House Higher Education Committee and may be taken up in the second week of Veto Session.
HB 426 (Gordon-Booth, D-Peoria), an initiative of the Illinois Association of School Business Officials and the Alliance, exempts contracts for goods, services or management in the operation of a school’s food service from the $25,000 contract bidding requirement. The bill is assigned to the House Elementary & Secondary Education: Administration, Licensing & Charter School Committee and may be taken up in the second week of Veto Session.
HB 3897 (Hurley, D-Chicago) requires school districts to continue to provide special education services to students past their 22nd birthday if it falls within the school year. The bill is assigned to the House Human Services Committee and may be taken up in the second week of Veto Session.
The following bills were approved by the House and will be sent to the Senate for further consideration:
HB 961 (Crespo, D-Streamwood) changes the sunset date for seniors to waive reapplying for the senior citizen homestead exemption to taxable years 2019 through 2023.
HB 1042 (Weaver, D-Peoria) extends the tax increment financing (TIF) district in the City of Savanna to 35 years.
The following bills were approved by the Senate and will be sent to the House for further consideration:
SB 460 (Bertino-Tarrant, D-Plainfield), regarding the requirement that a school district must forward all written materials to parents of students subject to an Individualized Education Program (IEP) within three days of the eligibility meeting, extends the compliance deadline to July 1, 2020.
SB 1698 (Martinez, D- Chicago) provides that any open meeting of the board of trustees of a retirement system or pension fund or any committee established by a retirement system or pension fund must be broadcasted to the public and maintained in real-time on the retirement system's or pension fund's website using a high-speed Internet connection.
SB 1864 (Link, D-Gurnee) bans the use of electronic cigarettes and vapes in public places.
The following bills were approved by both houses and will be sent to the Governor for action:
SB 1786 (Aquino, D-Chicago) disallows revocation of a drivers’ license for truancy.
SB 1970 (Sims, D-Chicago) allows a student entitled to vote in a primary, general, or special election two hours to vote on Election Day. The school may specify the hours in which the student may be absent.