The 101st General Assembly was in session for its first full week of activity. The Assembly has 38 new members and is one of the most diverse in the history of the state. There are new leaders in all four caucuses who will be guiding their members through the legislative process in what we hope will be a constructive working relationship with the new administration. This week, challenging weather conditions meant the House was only in session for one day. But, the Senate managed to complete three full days of work.

During the legislative session, which runs from January through May, we will update you on a weekly basis about the activity in and around the Capitol. That includes updates about the status of IEA initiatives, education issues and issues that impact the careers of IEA members and their families.

IEA-initiated bills

Charter schools
HB 809 (Emanuel Chris Welch, D-Westchester) The IEA is once again introducing legislation that would prohibit any state agency from establishing a charter school where the locally-elected school board has not approved one. This bill also states that all currently existing charter schools authorized by a state entity must be renewed by the local school board. The IEA also has introduced legislation that will dissolve the Illinois State Charter School Commission. The IEA supports charter schools that have been approved with local support. Referred to Rules Committee.

Minimum teacher salary
SB 10 (Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill; Michael Hastings, D-Frankfort; Linda Holmes, D-Aurora; Kimberly Lightford, D-Westchester) There is a worsening teaching career sustainability crisis in the state of Illinois. Two of the top reasons teachers leave the profession is low salary and benefits and a lack of public respect for the profession. Currently, Illinois law states that the minimum teacher salary should be between $10,000 and $11,000 dollars. By raising that floor to a minimum of $40,000 for all teachers across the state, it sends a message that Illinois not only wants to address the issue of compensation, but also recognizes the need to show that educators are respected. This bill was passed by both chambers of the General Assembly last session before it was vetoed by then-Gov. Bruce Rauner. We are hopeful that with the election of J.B. Pritzker, we can get this bill signed into law in the coming months. This bill is assigned to the Senate Education Committee.

Instructional day
SB 28 (Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, D-Plainfield) SB 28 re-inserts language that established the five-hour instructional school day. When the Evidence Based Funding formula was passed in 2017, this section was removed inadvertently. It in no way impacts the funding formula or how the funds would be distributed. While the removal of this language does afford certain calendar and scheduling flexibilities, there are no parameters on how to structure a school day and it opens the door for some potential abuses and unintended consequences that could be harmful to student learning and outcomes. There is also the potential for a further lessening of the importance of student time with a classroom teacher. The IEA supports this bill and is committed to work with school management to create those scheduling flexibilities that are good for both educators and students. The bill passed unanimously out of the Senate Education Committee and now awaits floor action.

Repeal 3 percent
SB 60 (Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, D-Plainfield; Dale Fowler, R-Harrisburg; Rachelle Crowe, D-Glen Carbon; Neil Anderson, R-Moline; Christopher Belt, D-East St Louis; Scott Bennett, D-Champaign; Linda Holmes, D-Aurora;  Laura Murphy, D-Des Plaines; David Koehler, D-Peoria; Paul Schimpf, R-Murphysboro). HB 350 (Kathleen Willis, D-Northlake; Michael Halpin, D-Rock Island; Terri Bryant, R-Mt Vernon; Katie Stuart, D-Collinsville; Dave Severin, R-Marion; Jerry Costello, D-Red Bud; Carol Ammons, D-Champaign; Will Guzzardi, D-Chicago; LaToya Greenwood, D-East St Louis; Monica Bristow, D-Alton). Requires an employer to make an additional employer contribution for a participant whose earnings for any academic year used to determine the final rate of earnings exceed the amount of his or her earnings with the same employer for the previous academic year by more than 6 percent (instead of 3 percent). Assigned to Appropriations One Committee.

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

Next week

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