As we move into the Memorial Day weekend, the preparation has begun for what is possibly the final week of the spring legislative session. There are a number of issues that are still unresolved with the caucus negotiators, the legislative leaders and the governor. We are mindful of the fact that sometimes proposals that are in opposition to the interest of our members and public education arise as a bargaining chip. Issues we are watching include pensions (Tier 3 implementation, buyout proposals and the consideration model). Please stay tuned to the website during this critical week in case we need your voice to respond to an unfavorable proposal.

This week has been a productive week in both chambers. IEA’s HB 5175 (Cunninghman/Hoffman) was amended in the Senate to contain identical language from HB 768, which was vetoed by Gov. Rauner earlier this year. As amended, HB 5175 removes provisions allowing the State Charter School Commission to reverse a school board’s decision to deny, revoke, or not renew a charter. This legislation is an IEA initiative. This bill passed the Senate and has been sent back to the House for a concurrence vote.

IEA-initiated bills

HB 4768 (Wheeler, R-Chrystal Lake) amends the school board member oath to include a commitment to be responsible for the quality of education of every student in the school district, and not just assume fiscal responsibility. This bill passed the Senate and motion is filled to concur.

Committee action bills

HB 751 (Davidsmeyer, R-Jacksonville/Holmes, D-Aurora) amends the Pension Code to change the definition of “eligible employment” for the purpose of allowing a teacher to return to teaching in subject shortage areas without impairing his or her retirement status or retirement annuity, through June 30, 2019. IEA supports this legislation. This bill passed both houses.

HB 5137 (Martwick, D-Chicago) creates an optional and supplemental 403b-like deferred compensation savings plan option for active participants in the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS). This bill passed both houses.

HB 5627 (Bennett, R-Pontiac/Weaver, R-Peoria) is an initiative of ISBE and makes several changes to the Educator Licensure Article of the School Code. Highlights include: increasing his or her retirement status up to 120 paid days or 600 paid hours in a school year, changing the requirements for out-of-state applicants who are licensed educators in another state, and allowing a short-term substitute teaching license to be issued until June 30, 2023. Under this bill, an individual who has a minimum of 60 credit hours is eligible for a short-term substitute license and may teach no more than five consecutive days in a single classroom. IEA was originally opposed to this bill as introduced, but after subsequent amendments, we are neutral. This bill passed out of the Senate Education committee.

Important dates

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

Next week:

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