IASB Legislative Report 103-28

Deliverd via email: March 15, 2024

Substantive Senate Bill Deadline

Today marks the first deadline of the Spring Session on which substantive Senate bills are due out of committees (the House has until April 5). However, with the Primary Election happening on Tuesday, March 19, few bills were heard this week and only a handful passed out of committees. While the deadline is today, we expect to see many extension requests for individual Senate bills that are of importance to their sponsors.

Additionally, there are still numerous bills being negotiated that have not yet made it to committees. The IASB Governmental Relations staff continues to work with the bill sponsors and other interested parties to refine bills and address concerns. Some of those bills that have not yet made it to Committee include: HB5617 (West) - Native American Mascots; HB5417 (Davidsmeyer) - School Attendance and Medical Notes; Senate Amendment 2 to SB1400 (Lightford) - Student Discipline; SB3773 (Johnson) Student School Board Member; SB3511 (Simmons) - Prohibition on Censorship of Curricular Materials; HB5009 (Croke) - Holiday Pay for ESPs; and HB 4274 (Swanson) - Tick Removal in Schools.

Hot Bills/Topics Discussed in Committees this Week

1. HB5406 (Yang Rohr) Interscholastic Practice Limit
This bill's intent is to ensure the mental and physical health of student athletes by limiting practice to four hours per day and 18 hours per week. A competition would count for three hours of practice, with only one additional hour of practice allowed on those days. It was noted that the NCAA’s practice limits were used as a model for this bill.

There was lengthy debate on this bill with concerns including encroachment on local control, students who participate in multiple sports, nuances of various sports, flexibility needed during certain times of the year when scheduling and planning games and tournaments, transportation time to and from competitions, adequate time for pre- and post-game activities for athletes (including team meals and team-building activities), and what is included in the definition of practice (which the bill defines to include activities such as film review, chalk talk, team meetings, instruction organized by a team member, etc.).

The main concern is that any guidelines and oversight on this issue belong with the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) and not legislated by the General Assembly. It was recommended to create a resolution urging the IHSA to study the topic and make recommendations for any policy change. The bill passed out of committee with a 9-4-1 vote with the understanding that a second amendment addressing concerns voiced, including by IASB, and legislators will come back to committee before heading to the House floor.

2. HB4622, H.A. 1 (Didech) School District Impact Note
To address mandates imposed on school districts, this bill directs the State Board of Education (ISBE) to create a school district impact note if requested by a General Assembly member, and ISBE would prepare that note. The bill would also allow school districts to submit fiscal impact estimates via the ISBE website for every bill that imposes or could impose a mandate on school districts. Only the estimates from school districts will be sent to the General Assembly for review and ISBE will act as the repository for the information. The bill passed through committee 9-0 and will be brought back to committee with a second amendment addressing further concerns before proceeding to the House floor.

3. HB4903 (Faver Dias) Air Quality Task Force
This bill creates the Air Quality Task Force whose purpose would be to make recommendations to the General Assembly on air quality goals for school districts, establish a process to assess current systems and recommendations to improve the current systems, and identify potential state and federal funding sources to support the initiative. The bill passed out of committee 6-3 and will be brought back to committee with a second amendment before being reported to the House floor.

4. Tier 2 Subject Matter Hearing
The House Personnel and Pension Committee held a subject matter hearing on March 14. The two focal points of the conversation were lowering the age requirement for Tier 2 employees from 67 years and adjusting the Tier 2 COLA to be more in line with Tier 1 employees. Subject matter hearings will continue throughout the Spring Session on viable solutions to Tier 2 pension issues.

Advocacy Ambassador Update

The IASB Governmental Relations team would love you to join us in the Advocacy Ambassador program. The program is designed to build relationships between school board members and state and federal legislators. The group has doubled since the beginning of the year to 87 members, but there is still room for you. No experience is required – all you need is your voice, your passion, and commitment to making a difference. Sign up today!

For current Advocacy Ambassadors, the next regular meeting will be held virtually on April 5 at noon. We will provide a current legislative update and discuss our list of Hot Bills being tracked. In addition, on Friday, March 27, we will have a conversation around pensions in a  30-minute mid-month discussion. Be on the lookout for advocacy opportunities this spring and contact our staff with any questions. The Governmental Relations team is honored to serve our members this year and looks forward to a successful session!

New School Laws Available on the IASB Website

New School Laws is a digest of state laws affecting Illinois public schools and enacted in 2023. Included in this publication, where applicable, is the IASB Policy Reference Educational Subscription Service (PRESS) information regarding new legislation. If a new law is addressed in PRESS materials, the corresponding PRESS Policy or Procedure code number will follow the public act information.

The IASB Government Relations staff has made every effort to identify which new acts to include. We recognize that one or more acts may have escaped our attention. This publication, therefore, is not intended as a substitute for either a current version of the Illinois Compiled Statutes or legal counsel. Also note the synopsis of each act is brief and may or may not encompass the full content or impact of the Act. The synopsis is designed to call attention to statutory changes and additions that may merit further research.

Senate Bills that Passed out of Committee this Week

SB2675 (Villivalam) Early Childhood Construction Grants
This bill allows for non-profit early childhood programs that do not own their facility but rent from another non-profit entity to qualify for early childhood construction grants. A requirement to apply is for the entity to remain in the facility for at least 10 years. The bill passed the committee unanimously previously and an amendment was passed to allow the Capital Review Board to implement the bill by including appropriate safeguards for the funding.

SB2689 (Peters) Montessori Educator Licensure
This bill provides for the issuance of a Montessori educator license to qualified individuals to teach using the Montessori method in public school programs that use the Montessori method as the primary method of instruction. The intent is to expand licensure, allowing more teachers to enter the field, which will help ease the teacher shortage. The bill passed the committee unanimously and will head to the Senate floor.

SB2861 (Morrison) Spirit Rules Book
As amended, this bill requires an association that promotes interscholastic athletics to adopt the Spirit Rules Book published by the National Federation of State High School Associations to set safety standards for cheer groups. The bill passed the committee with an 11-0 vote.

SB2872 (Ventura) Relaxation Activities
This initiative, introduced last year, would have mandated yoga or relaxation activities each week. After working with interested parties, including IASB, the sponsor introduced the amended version which removes the mandate. The bill now makes it permissive for districts to offer 20 minutes of relaxation activities per week to advance the mental and physical health of students. A school district can also partner with a community organization to provide the services. The bill passed the committee with an 8-3 vote.

SB3151 (Stadelman) Driver Education Worker Safety
As amended, this bill requires that the Driver’s Education course include worker safety in highway construction and maintenance zones. The bill passed unanimously through committee.

SB3571 (Harriss) AED After Hours
This bill requires all school districts to have at least one automated external defibrillator (AED) on school grounds during a school-sponsored extracurricular activity. The intention is to ensure a quick response in the event of a medical emergency. The bill passed through committee with a unanimous vote.

SB3768 (Glowiak-Hilton) Special Education Deaf/Blind
The Phillip J. Rock Center (named after a former Senate President who supported this school) has been educating students who are deaf and/or blind since the 1970s. This bill expands services to those who are hearing impaired or visually impaired. The school has capacity to serve 20 students, but currently only has nine students, so this expands access to schooling. The bill also clarifies how the school is organized and streamlines the Advisory Board for Services for Persons Who Are Deaf and Blind, now facilitated by the Illinois State Board of Education. The bill unanimously passed the committee and will be reported to the Senate floor.

House Bills that Passed out of Committees this Week

HB4175 (Croke) Non-Public Discipline
This bill bans corporal punishment in nonpublic schools (currently this ban only applies to public schools) due to the harm it brings to children. This does not apply to children who are being homeschooled but brings nonpublic schools in alignment with current public school procedures. The bill passed the committee with a 11-4 vote.

HB4407 (Faver Dias) Child Abuse Reports to Schools
As amended, this bill makes changes to how the Child Protective Service Unit makes child abuse reports to the child’s school and clarifies what a school district’s responsibility is with that report when an indicated finding is overturned on appeal. The bill passed unanimously out of committee.

HB4581 (Mussman) Special Education Resident District
This bill addresses a limited residency situation under Article 14 which applies only to students with disabilities. It provides that the resident district of a student, who is over 18 with no legal guardian, who is placed outside of the school district into a residential facility, and the placement is funded by a state agency or through private insurance, the residency remains with the district in which the parent lives. This is to ensure students receive continuing services after legal age in limited circumstances when there is not a guardianship order in place. The bill passed the committee with a unanimous vote.

HB4662 (Elik) Teachers Retirement System Return to Teaching
This bill extends the date to June 30, 2029 (currently June 30, 2024) for allowing teachers to return to teaching in subject shortage areas without impairing retirement status or retirement annuity. This is an initiative of the Illinois Association of School Administrators. The bill passed the committee 11-0 and will be reported to the House floor.

HB5276 (Ness) Special Education Transition
This bill requires the discussion of a student’s post high school assistive technology needs to be included in the transition planning meeting. These are devices that assist in functionality for students and would ensure there is a plan in place after graduation. The bill passed through committee with a unanimous vote but will be brought back to committee with a technical change from ISBE.

Bills that Failed to Pass out of Committee this Week

HB4254 (Keicher) Central Community Bond Issue
Provides for a debt limitation exception for Central Community Unit School District 301 (not to exceed $195,000,000) if specified conditions are met. Witness slips filed showed 239 opponents and only 3 proponents. Due to the heavy opposition and unanswered questions, the vote failed with a 3-6 vote. Although the measure failed, the sponsor can bring the bill back to the committee for another vote. The bill remains in committee.