After an anything but normal spring legislative session comprised of remote legislating and zoom committee hearings, the Illinois General Assembly (GA) wrapped up its business for the first half of the 102nd GA. Before the Memorial Day holiday, a long list of issues remained unresolved, including ethics reform, property tax changes, and passage of the state budget. Both the House and Senate worked into the wee hours of June 1, and the Senate returned for session later that day.
Highlights of the action:
House Bill 18 extends the time between evaluations for teachers previously rated “proficient” or “excellent” from two to three years and applies to all school districts in the state. It also extends the work of Performance Evaluation Advisory Committee (PEAC) to June 30, 2024 (PEAC was scheduled to end June 30 of this year). The bill passed both chambers.
House Bill 375 will provide university and community college adjuncts with a notice of the status of the class(es) they were hired to teach. The employer will give the notice once at least 30 days before the start of the semester or term and then again 14 days before the start of the semester or term. The bill passed both the House and Senate.
House Bill 2908 creates a 21-member elected school board for the City of Chicago. Passed the Senate, requires concurrence in the House.
Workers’ Rights Constitutional Amendment
Senate Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 11 would amend the Bill of Rights of the Illinois Constitution to explicitly state that employees have a fundamental right to organize and collectively bargain through a representative of their choosing to negotiate wages, hours, and working conditions. It would also prohibit any state law from being passed that interferes with that right such as so-called “right to work” laws. Passed by both the House and Senate, the proposed Constitutional amendment will be on the November 2022 ballot and needs to be approved by 60% of the voters.
Organizing Improvements – Electronic Signatures and Elections
House Bill 2521 allows electronic signatures to be used in organizing drives and extends the time those signatures are valid to 12 months, allows secret ballot elections to select a labor organization as the representative of the employees in a bargaining unit to be conducted electronically, and makes any retaliatory action from an employer against employees who are on engaged in a lawful strike an unfair labor practice. The bill passed both chambers.
Union Rights for Chicago Principals
House Bill 3496 changes the legal definition of a supervisor in Chicago to allow principals to be considered educational employees with collective bargaining rights. This bill was an initiative of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association and was supported by the IFT and CTU. HB 3496 passed the House but was not called for a vote in the Senate.
Union Rights for More State Employees
Senate Bill 525 makes determinations of confidential employee, managerial employee, and supervisor status dependent upon actual job duties and not the job description. This will expand the number of state employees that can join a union and have collective bargaining rights, and it will reverse the Rauner-era practice of using an outdated job description to misclassify workers. The bill passed the House and Senate.
Metrics for Reopening Schools
House Bill 2789 requires the Department of Public Health (IDPH) to establish metrics for school districts to determine if the district may safely conduct in-person or remote instruction. The bill applies to public and private schools and establishes a complaint process. An individual can make a complaint that a school is not in compliance with the IDPH metrics to the regional superintendent of schools, who must investigate. The ROE findings can be appealed to ISBE. The bill did not pass.
Urges Extended School Year
Senate Resolution 232 urges Illinois school districts to add additional time to the school day and/or school year, beginning in the 2021-22 school year and for the next three years, to address disrupted learning because of the pandemic. This resolution was adopted by the Senate.
Retirement Savings for Tier 2 Participants
Senate Bill 2103 provides for automatic enrollment into a supplemental defined contribution plan for new participants in SURS and TRS (those hired after July 1, 2023). New members will automatically have three percent of their pay distributed to the plan and they can change that amount or opt out completely at any time. The legislation will enable new participants in Tier II to save additional assets for retirement and does not impact the employee’s defined benefit under SURS or TRS. This passed both chambers.
Exempting Summer School from Pension Penalties
Senate Bill 1646 excludes salary increases from teaching summer school between May 1, 2021 and September 15, 2022, from the calculation used to determine if an individual’s salary increased more than 6% and, as a result, requires a corresponding employer pension contribution. This passed both chambers.
Private School Service Credit
House Bill 1966 allows for the purchase of up to two years of private school credit under TRS. The member must pay the employee and employer cost plus interest for the service credit. This passed both chambers.
Contract School Educators in CTPF
Senate Bill 2093 allows educators working in CPS contract schools to access a defined benefit pension via CTPF. The bill passed both chambers.
Return to Work
House Bill 2569 extends the provision allowing retired teachers to return to teaching without penalty until June 30, 2024. It also requires schools to post vacancies on the district’s website and in an online database. This passed both chambers.
Senate Bill 1989 also extends the provision and allows retired teachers to return to teaching without penalty, but only until June 30, 2023. This bill passed both chambers.