This week the General Assembly was back in session after a two week break. This was a committee deadline week, which means that substantive bills had to be heard and voted on in committee if they are to be considered for further discussion on the House or Senate floor. Bills not having enough votes to get out of committee are likely dead for the remainder of the spring legislative session.

We want to bring attention to a legislative proposal that was introduced this week that could impact future budget and revenue conversations.  HR 975 was introduced by Leader Jim Durkin (R-Burr Ridge) and has 50 House Republican co-sponsors. The resolution states their opposition to any measure that would allow the creation of a graduated income tax on Illinois residents. The resolution is not expected to get any traction, but will have an impact on whether a constitutional amendment on the issue is placed on the November ballot. In order to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot, the initiative must receive 36 affirmative votes in the Senate and 71 affirmative votes in the House. There are currently 67 Democrat legislators in the House.

IEA-initiated bills

SB 2545 (Manar, D-Bunker Hill) excludes meetings of a joint negotiating team strategy session from being subject to the Open Meetings Act. This bill passed out of committee on Feb. 28 and is placed on second reading.

SB 2838 (Link, D-Waukegan) empowers the Illinois State Board of Education to implement a program and adopt rules to allow school districts to supplement their substitute teacher recruitment for elementary and secondary schools with the use of recruiting firms. The legislation prohibits school districts from using recruiting firms to circumvent collective bargaining agreements or laws. This bill passed out of committee but it is placed on second reading.

SB 3157 (Aquino, D-Chicago) provides that each qualified teacher is entitled to an income tax credit in an aggregate amount equal to 50 percent of the tuition costs incurred by that teacher at a public university in the state. The teacher must have graduated from a public university in the state, must currently be a teacher, and been employed as a teacher in the state for at least five consecutive years. This bill is assigned to revenue committee.

SB 3181 (Schimpf, R-Waterloo) would allow an active member to establish TRS credit for up to two years of service as a teacher or administrator employed by a private school recognized by ISBE. There was no action taken on this bill.

HB 4755 (Hoffman, D-Collinsville) provides that no less than 50 percent of the custodial employees employed by a school board shall be certified as structural pest control technicians by the Department of Public Health. This bill was placed on second reading.

HB 4768 (Wheeler, R-Chrystal Lake) amends the school board member oath to include a commitment to be morally and legally responsible for equitable and quality education of every student in the school district. No action was taken on this bill.

HB 5175 (Hoffman, D-Collinsville, Scherer, D-Decatur)/ SB 2892 (Manar, D-Bunker Hill) are identical bills that set the minimum starting salary for a teacher in Illinois at $40,000. These bills passed out of the Secondary Education: Licensing, Administration and Oversight Committee and are on second reading in their respective chambers.

Committee action bills

HB 4308 (Reick, R-Woodstock) changes the amount of time by which a school district must notify a teacher that he or she is being removed or dismissed as a result of the district decreasing positions from 45 days before the end of the school term to ten business days following the passage of the Illinois state budget. IEA opposed this initiative which passed out of committee.

HB 5572 (Ives, R-Wheaton) puts limitations on a school districts ability to refinance debt and limits the types of bonds that districts may issue. IEA opposed this issue, along with numerous other education organizations. It passed out of the House Elementary and Secondary Education: Licensing, Administration and Oversight Committee and is now on second reading in the House.

HB 5696 (Welch, D-Hillsdale) creates the Bridge Program for Underrepresented Students Act which provides that each public university in this state may establish a bridge program for underrepresented students. The program is designed to support underrepresented students at public universities. This bill passed out of the Higher Education Committee unanimously and is supported by the IEA

SB 2546 (Biss, D-Skokie) amends the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act to provide that the term “student” within the definition of “educational employee” or “employee” as used in the act excludes (rather than includes) graduate students who are research assistants primarily performing duties that involve research, graduate assistants primarily performing duties that are pre-professional, graduate students who are teaching assistants primarily performing duties that involve the delivery and support of instruction, or any other graduate assistants. This bill, which IEA supports, passed out of the Senate Labor Committee and is on second reading in the Senate.

Educator shortage proposals

There are a number of discussions taking place on this topic, including how to address this issue both in the short-term and the long-term. Multiple bills have been filed in the Illinois General Assembly to address licensure requirements and new programs. Proposed changes to alternative licensure, out-of-state reciprocity, substitutes, creating more STEM teachers, reducing preparation program time, etc., have all been filed, as well as initiatives to incentivize more people into the education field.

In addition, there are ongoing hearings taking place with testimony from the higher education institutions, educators and advocacy groups to gain a better understanding of the issues and to hear recommendations on how to address this problem. ISBE also is conducting its own year-long study.

IEA is involved in all of these discussions and reviewing proposed legislation.

Important dates

A schedule for each chamber can be found on the General Assembly website.

Next week:

  • Both the Senate and House are in session next week.
  • The Senate and House are scheduled to remain in session through May 31.