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GOVERNMENT RELATIONS


Alliance Legislative Report 98-03

Distributed via Email: February 6, 2013

GOVERNOR SPEECH COVERS MANY ISSUES

Governor Pat Quinn Wednesday delivered his annual State of the State address before a joint session of the Illinois General Assembly, but provided few details on his broad-ranging goals. Education issues were barely touched upon as the economy and job creation took center stage. The overall economic plight of the State and Illinois’ current fiscal status were only mentioned in passing. The details on the Governor’s budget plans will be disclosed at the Governor’s Budget Address slated for March 6.

The Governor pledged to invest in the State’s infrastructure, begin new clean water projects, create “green” jobs, provide job training for veterans, raise the minimum wage to at least $10 per hour, and increase health care access for Illinois citizens through the Medicaid program. He further endorsed legislation to allow for voter registration on-line, establish “open” primary elections (without disclosing a person’s political affiliation), and to allow same sex marriages.

SAFETY

Overall safety, and specifically school safety, was a hot-button issue in the Governor’s remarks. He supports legislation to ban assault weapons and high capacity gun magazines, strengthen criminal background checks before one can purchase a firearm, require the reporting of lost or stolen guns, and that calls for more reliable mental health records to be share with law enforcement.

For school districts, the Governor called for new legislation that would “require every school in our State to practice active safety drills that will prepare them for even the worst”. The School Code currently contains the following requirement: “During each academic year, schools must conduct a law enforcement drill to address incidents, including without limitation reverse evacuations, lock-downs, shootings, bomb threats, or hazardous materials. Such drills must be conducted according to the school district's or private school's emergency and crisis response plans, protocols, and procedures, with the participation of the appropriate law enforcement agency.” It is unclear what Governor Quinn plans to add to the statute.

FUNDING AND PENSIONS

Governor Quinn mentioned several times that pension costs are squeezing out funding for other State priorities such as education. Pension costs, left “unreformed”, will continue to grow at a rate of “$17 million per day” and take resources away from “education, public safety, and other vital services”. Stating that the pension problem can no longer be deferred and that pension reform must be “job number 1”, the Governor called SB 1 ( Cullerton, D-Chicago) “the best vehicle to get the job done”.

SB 1 combines the TRS pension components of last spring’s proposals that included “an election” by TRS participants regarding the compounding Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) (this is “Part B” of the bill) and the proposal from the “lame duck” session which restructured pension benefits without the “election” provision (this is “Part A” of the bill). The theory is that if this bill would be enacted and challenged, the court would determine if “Part A” is constitutional and, if it is not, “Part B” – the choice provision – would be in place.

SB 1 was scheduled for a committee hearing this week but the sponsor did not call for the bill to be considered.

SCHEDULE

The Senate reconvenes next Wednesday, February 13, and will be in session through Friday. Friday, February 15 is the deadline for Senators to introduce a bill. The House will not be in session next week but will return on February 19 for three days. The House deadline to introduce legislation is February 26. Nearly 3,000 bills have already been introduced thus far in the two legislative chambers.

LEGISLATIVE ACTION THIS WEEK

HB 3 (Chapa LaVia, D-Aurora) e xtends the time period during which a school district may do interfund transfers for three more years. The bill, supported by the Alliance, was approved by the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee and was sent to the House floor for consideration.

HB 64 (Ford, D-Chicago) prohibits a school from requesting or requiring a student to provide a password in order to gain access to the student's account or profile on a social networking website. The bill was discussed in the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee, but no vote was taken. The sponsor will be meeting with the Alliance to discuss amendments to the bill.

HB 76 (Ford) creates the School Choice Act to allow for publicly funded vouchers to be used for tuition at non-public schools. The bill, opposed by the Alliance, was discussed in the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee, but no vote was taken.

HB 77 (Ford) prohibits the sale of any food on school premises that contains trans fats. The bill, opposed by the Alliance, was approved by the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee and was sent to the House floor for consideration.

HB 129 (Welch, D-Westchester) , as amended, p ermits a school board to designate the first Monday in October of each year "Bring Your Parents to School Day" when parents are allowed to attend class with their children and meet with teachers and administrators during the school day. The bill was approved by the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee and was sent to the House floor for consideration.

HB 161 ( Osmond, R-Antioch) p rovides that pupils enrolled in New Tech High at Zion-Benton East in Zion-Benton Township High School District 126 are required to engage in P.E. courses three days a week (instead of daily) during the school day, within the school's modified block schedule. It provides that the school's pupils be required to document with their P.E. teacher an additional 120 minutes of physical activity per week outside of the classroom, with the types of physical activity that qualify being determined by the school. The bill, supported by the Alliance, was approved by the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee and was sent to the House floor for consideration.

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 Statewide School Management Alliance.

Bill Text/Status: Illinois General Assembly www.ilga.gov


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