Alliance Legislative Report 97-01
Distributed via Email: February 1, 2011
NEW GENERAL ASSEMBLY ORGANIZING
The new 97th Illinois General Assembly is beginning to organize for the spring legislative session. This week’s scheduled session was cancelled due to weather, though little work was on the agenda anyway. The House of Representatives has yet to announce its committee assignments so no committee work would have taken place in that chamber. A handful of bills were posted for a committee hearing this week in the Senate; those bills will be taken up in subsequent committee meetings. Both the House and Senate return to the Capitol next week.
In the Senate, Senator James Meeks (D-Chicago) will again preside as Chairman of the Senate Education Committee. Other education committee members include: Senator Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood), Senator Gary Forby (D-Benton), Senator Susan Garrett (D-Lake Forest), Senator Iris Martinez (D-Chicago), Senator John Mulroe (D-Chicago), Senator David Luechtefeld (ROkawville), Senator Brad Burzynski (R-Sycamore), Senator Kyle McCarter (R-Lebanon), and Senator Suzi Schmidt (R-Lake Villa).
A list of members of all Senate committees can be found at: http://www.ilga.gov/senate/committees/default.asp
GOVERNOR TAKES ACTION ON BILLS
Several pieces of legislation were approved in the fall “Veto Session” and in January’s “lame duck” session. The bills were sent to the Governor for consideration.
SB 1716 (Koehler, D-Peoria) creates the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act. It allows for civil unions, defined as a legal relationship between two persons of either the same or opposite sex. In the case of a civil union, persons who have entered into such an agreement must be provided with the obligations, responsibilities, protections, and benefits afforded or recognized by the law of Illinois to spouses. The Governor signed the bill into law on Monday. It is effective June 1, 2011.
SB 2505 (Cullerton, D-Chicago) contains the increase in the state’s income tax rates. A full synopsis of the bill can be found at: https://www.iasb.com/govrel/sb2505.pdf. The bill is now Public Act 96-1496, effective January 13, 2011.
SB 3514 (Cullerton) contains the provisions for borrowing the necessary funds (about $3.7 billion) to make the state’s 2011 pension payment. The bill is now Public Act 96-1497, effective January 14, 2011.
HB 5289 (Chapa La Via, D-Aurora) authorizes Valley View Community Unit School District 365U to issue bonds for certain building purposes for 25 years (instead of 20 years). The bill is pending consideration by the Governor.
HB 5635 (Rose, R-Mahomet) extends the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district in Charleston to 35 years (instead of 23 years). The bill is now Public Act 96-1494, effective December 30, 2010.
ISSUES PENDING IN 97TH GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Though the legislature approved several significant bills in a flurry of activity at the end of the last session, other issues remain unfinished. The following matters will likely be addressed in the early part of the new legislative session:
Bond Authorization to Pay Backlog of Bills
A companion bill to the tax increase bill stalled in the House in January and will likely be re-addressed this spring. SB 336 (Haine, D-Alton) contained debt restructuring measures so the state could have issued $8.75 billion in bonds with receipts earmarked for paying down state debt. The bonds would have been paid back over the next 14 years. The revenue stream for paying off the bonds would have come from ½% of the new income tax increase. This measure is necessary to ensure that tax increase receipts will first go toward paying down the backlog of bills the state owes to vendors, school districts, and medical providers.
Funding for Capital Projects
The bill that contained the funding sources for a state capital projects plan was challenged in court, and the State Court of Appeals has sided with the plaintiff. In 2009, the legislature approved a proposal to build new roads, bridges, and schools and passed a companion bill that contained the revenue sources to pay for the capital bill.
HB 255 (Public Act 96-34) legalized and taxed video poker machines, allowed for the private management of the Illinois Lottery, and increased taxes on candy, soft drinks, wine, beer, and spirits. An alcohol distributor sued and the Court of Appeals has found that the bill violates the “single subject” clause in the Constitution by combining all of the various revenue sources in a single bill. The case will move to the State Supreme Court for a final decision. If the decision is upheld, all of the provisions of the bill would be thrown out and there would be no revenue stream to pay the bonds for the construction projects unless the General Assembly approves new legislation. The new plan would have to have each revenue stream contained in a separate bill, causing legislators to take several distinct votes to raise the various taxes.
In what once looked like a promising opportunity to make significant changes in teacher dismissal, tenure, and teacher strike laws, the legislative session adjourned without considering any education reform legislation. Discussions continue among education stakeholders in the hopes of having legislation ready for a vote this spring.
Workers Compensation Reform
Efforts to reform the workers compensation laws of the state fell short in January. A legislative task force met throughout the fall and into the new year, but not enough agreement could be reached among business interests, unions, and physicians for passage of a bill. SB 1066 (Haine, D-Alton), which contained the workers compensation reform language, was approved by the House Executive Committee but was never called for a vote on the House floor. Legislative leaders have pledged to continue to work on the issue.
Proponents of expanded gaming will have to start over again in the new legislative session. A bill was approved by the Senate in January that would have brought billions of new gaming dollars into the state, but the House never called the bill for a vote. SB 737 (Link, D-Vernon Hills) would have added four new river boat casinos and a Chicago casino, as well as allowing slot machines at horse racing tracks and additional gaming positions on the existing riverboat casinos.
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 Illinois Statewide School Management Alliance.
Bill Text/Status: Illinois General Assembly www.ilga.gov
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