In the annual State of the State address, Governor JB Pritzker touted his accomplishments from his first year in office and cast a vision for the State of Illinois. Public education was an important topic during the speech as the Governor mentioned education several times in direct and indirect ways. One of the most encouraging statements made during the speech was that “our most important commitments are to our children and their education”.
While the Governor covered achievements from his first year in office like additional education funding and a new school construction grant program, there were also many forward focused elements of the speech. Governor Pritzker talked about the challenges that he sees with Illinois’ tax system including a heavy reliance on property taxes. A new income tax structure and local government consolidation were mentioned as ways to reduce property taxes across the state.
The nearly thirty minute speech was meet with predictable bipartisan disagreement. The State of the State allows the Illinois Governor to talk about accomplishments and encourage the General Assembly to pass bills that align with his vision. The State of the State is the precursor to the Illinois Budget Address which Governor Pritzker will deliver on February 19.
ILLINOIS STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION RULES ON TIME OUT
While the Governor's State of the State address might get much of the attention this week, there are still many important issues to be addressed in both legislation and in administrative rules. Late last year, the media coverage on the use of time outs and seclusion in schools prompted emergency rule making from the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). While that emergency rule making is still in place until the spring, ISBE has proposed permanent rules on the use of time out and isolation in schools. School districts are encouraged to take a look at the proposed permanent rules and determine if there are changes that need to be recommended. To comment on the rules, members can email ISBE at email@example.com. All comments on rules are due by February 3. While the rule making is important to determining the final outcome on time out and restraint, there are also several pieces of legislation that are being discussed.
GOVERNOR SIGNS LATE VETO SESSION LEGISLATION AFFECTING SCHOOLS
HB 961 (Crespo, D-Streamwood), for Cook County, changes the sunset date for seniors to waive reapplying for the senior citizen homestead exemption to taxable years 2019 through 2023. The bill is now Public Act 101-0622, effective January 14, 2020.
SB 10 (Manar, D-Bunker Hill) reinstates a competency test for persons seeking a paraprofessional educator endorsement. The bill is now Public Act 101-0594, effective December 5, 2019.
SB 119 (Steans, D-Chicago) makes revisions to the budget implementation legislation from the spring regarding the Capital Projects Fund, bonded indebtedness and general obligation bond authorizations. It directs $9 million from cigarette tax receipts to the Common School Fund and Healthcare Provider Relief Fund. The bill also exempts aviation fuel from county-wide sales tax receipts. The bill is now Public Act 101-0604, effective December 13, 2019.
SB 460 (Bertino-Tarrant, D-Plainfield), regarding the requirement that a school district must forward all written materials to parents of students subject to an Individualized Education Program (IEP) within three days of the eligibility meeting, extends the compliance deadline to July 1, 2020. The bill is now Public Act 101-0598, effective December 6, 2019.
SB 730 (Cullerton, J., D-Chicago), among other provisions, fixes an omission in Public Act 101-0221 regarding economic interest statements. The Act reinstates the requirement for the local government chief administrator to annually, on or before February 1, certify to the county clerk a list of names and addresses of persons that are required to file. The bill is now Public Act 101-0617, effective December 20, 2019.
SB 1300 (Castro, D-Elgin) consolidates the pension funds for municipal police and fire employees from the various individual funds across the state. It also adds two additional people to the Board of Trustees of the Teachers’ Retirement System. One person to be appointed by the Governor and one additional teacher. The bill is now Public Act 101-0610, effective January 1, 2020.
SB 1639 (Steans) requires registered lobbyists to disclose specifically if clients include local governments, including school districts. It also requires lobbyists to disclose any elected or appointed offices they hold. The bill is now Public Act 101-0595, effective December 5, 2019.
SB 1784 (Harmon, D-Oak Park) is a response from organized labor to the Janus decision handed down by the United States Supreme Court. In the Janus case, the Supreme Court declared that public employees were not required to pay any union dues if they did not wish to do so. While state law cannot override the Janus decision, there are several items in SB 1784 that will require additional communication from school districts to bargaining units and will also restrict communications with employees. The bill requires school districts to provide every month to the bargaining unit representative “any home and personal cellular telephone numbers on file with the employer”. The legislation also requires any employee with questions about union membership to be directed to the bargaining unit representative. The bill is now Public Act 101-0620, effective December 20, 2019.
SB 1970 (Sims, D-Chicago) allows a student entitled to vote in a primary, general, or special election two hours to vote on Election Day. The school may specify the hours in which the student may be absent. The bill is now Public Act 101-0624, effective June 1, 2020.