Federal Legislative Report 117-05

Delivered via email: November 8, 2021


Late Friday night the House passed the $1.2 trillion infrastructure program to the president’s desk. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed the Senate in August and stalled in the House due to being held up as part of the negotiations on the much larger $3.5 trillion Build Back Better Act. Major items on the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act as it relates to schools nationwide include:
  • A total of $65 billion for broadband investment to help families access the internet and afford devices.
  • $5 billion for clean-energy school buses.
  • $500 million over 5 years for competitive grants to schools and non-profits for energy efficiency improvements.
  • $200 million over 5 years to remove lead contamination in school drinking water, as part of a much bigger drinking water program.
  • Reauthorizes and extends until 2023 the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act, which helps fund schools in 700 counties that have federal forest land.
Illinois is expected to receive at least $17 billion from the program. Highlights that may specifically affect schools include:
  • At least $100 million to expand internet broadband coverage across the state; and
  • $1.7 billion to improve drinking water including lead pipe removal.

New Congressional Maps for Illinois

At the end of the legislative veto session, the Illinois General Assembly passed new congressional maps as required after the 2020 Census. Due to slower population gain compared to the other 49 states, Illinois’ number of congressional districts shrinks from 18 to 17. The legislature went through four different proposals before finally deciding on a version the legislative leadership felt they could pass in the last remaining hours of the fall veto session. Any more delay they felt could increase the chances of the federal courts drafting a map due to potential legal challenges leading up to the candidate filling deadline for the 2022 election. The new map, including the three alternative proposals, can be found on the Illinois Senate Redistricting Committee website.
As a result of the new congressional maps placing Congressman Darin LaHood and Congressman Adam Kinzinger into the same district, six term congressman, Adam Kinzinger, has announced that he will not be seeking another term in congress and will continue to focus on national issues. Expect a subsequent announcement from Congressman Kinzinger on his political future at a later date.

President Biden Proposes New “Framework” on Build Back Better Act

What started out as a sweeping $3.5 trillion funding package has now shrunk to $1.75 trillion.  On the chopping block was $82 billion that was geared towards improving school infrastructure.  However, some of the major items related to schools and education that did survive include:
  • $9 billion for lead mitigation programs at schools and at childcare programs that service disadvantaged communities,
  • $30 million for school kitchen equipment upgrades,
  • $112 million for the Grow Your Own teacher program and another $112 million for the teacher residency program to address the teacher shortage,
  • $300 million for the Emergency Connectivity Fund to assist schools with remote learning needs,
  • $112 million to support school principal recruitment and development at in-need schools,
  • $37.5 million to monitor and reduce air pollution and greenhouse emissions at schools, and
  • $161 million for developing personnel to support students with disabilities.
It was expected the U.S. House of Representatives would vote on the revised proposal prior to the Halloween weekend break. That did not occur due concerns from some members of Congress that the revised “framework” does not go far enough to address the social inequities initially sought to address in the first $3.5 trillion proposal presented earlier this year.

President Biden Signs K-12 Cybersecurity Act of 2021

The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is now being tasked to study cybersecurity risks facing elementary and secondary schools and develop recommendations, including toolkits designed for school officials to use to face these threats. The goal is to help school districts keep online information systems secure and protect sensitive student and employee records.