Legislative Update for Week of March 21

(via the Illinois Federation of Teachers)


Legislators will return their districts this weekend with plans to reconvene in Springfield on March 28 for 12 days of session. This time of year often brings surprise amendments and new, last minute proposals, so IFT’s Department of Political Activities is monitoring developments closely and will keep members informed.


Here are some highlights of action this week in Springfield.


Budget process begins


The budget process got underway this week with the passage of an omnibus appropriations bill, SB 2803 (Sen. Holmes, D-Aurora). Among other things, SB 2803 would use $2.7 billion of federal American Rescue Plan Act funds to make a $300 million pension payment. The bill was approved by the House and Senate and now moves to the governor, who has indicated his intention to sign the bill quickly.


Legislators continue to meet behind closed doors to craft a FY23 state budget; as the April 8 adjournment deadline approaches, budget bills will likely begin to surface.


Movement on key bills


HB 1167 (Rep. Yang Rohr, D-Naperville) provides COVID-specific sick days moving forward and restores days already used if a teacher, school staffer, or their school-age child were forced to quarantine. HB 1167 was approved by the House in early March and assigned to be heard in the Senate Executive Committee next week. A bill containing part of the requirements of this bill - but filed separately as HB 3537 - was advanced out of the Senate Education Committee this week. HB 3573 (Sen. Holmes, D-Aurora) specifically provides paycheck protection for contractors and PSRPS’s in the event a school closes for e-learning. It’s anticipated that both bills will see action on the Senate floor next week.


HB 3637 (Rep. Bennett, R-Pontiac) establishes new program for K-12 school construction requests to make the process work better for school districts once funding becomes available from the state. The bill was approved by the Senate Education Committee this week and will now be considered by the full Senate.


HB 4089 (Rep. Nichols, D-Burbank) requires a school district to provide a plant-based school lunch option to students who submit a prior request for such to the school district. The plant-based school lunch option must comply with federal nutritional mandates. The bill was approved by the Senate Education Committee this week and will now be considered by the full Senate.


HB 4246 (Rep. Scherer, D-Decatur) lowers the lapsed license fee for educators from $500 to $50 and provides that a retired teacher, even if returning to a position that requires educator licensure, shall not be required to pay registration fees. The bill was approved unanimously by the Senate Education Committee this week and will now be considered by the full Senate.


HB 4256 (Rep. McCombie, R-Sterling) allows a school district to waive certain teacher evaluation requirements (for the 2022-23 school year only) if the governor has issued an emergency proclamation. The waiver would apply to the evaluation requirement of all teachers in contractual continued service whose performance during the last school year in which the teacher was rated as either "excellent" or "proficient." The bill was approved unanimously by Senate Education Committee this week and will now be considered by the full Senate.


HB 4257 (Rep. McCombie, R-Sterling) provides that, for the 2021-22 school year only, a person with either an Administrative endorsement or a Teacher Leader endorsement serving in an administrative capacity at least 50% of the day is not required to complete an Illinois Administrators’ Academy course. The bill was approved unanimously by Senate Education Committee this week and will now be considered by the full Senate.


HB 4365 (Rep. Didech, D-Buffalo Grove) allows a student's individualized education program (IEP) team to determine whether the special education program of a school district is unable to meet the needs of a child with a disability. The bill provides that a school district may place a student in a nonpublic special education facility providing educational services within the facility. The bill was approved unanimously by Senate Education Committee this week and will now be considered by the full Senate.


HB 4690 (Rep. Mussman, D-Schaumburg) With respect to the removal or dismissal of teachers and principals, the bill eliminates a provision which specifies that if the governor has declared a disaster due to a public health emergency pursuant to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency Act, pre-hearing and hearing requirements are paused and do not restart until the proclamation is no longer in effect. The Senate Education Committee approved the bill this week; it now moves to the full Senate.


HB 4716 (Rep. Halpin, D-Rock Island), requires the Illinois State Board of Education, in collaboration with stakeholders, to adopt rigorous learning standards for the classroom and laboratory phases of driver’s education. The Senate Education Committee unanimously approved the bill; the full Senate is expected to take it up next week.


HB 4728 (Rep Davis, D-East Hazel Crest) amends the School Code. The bill would make changes to the Local Capacity Target (LCT) calculation. It would provide that the test compares the two most recent EAV to determine a decrease of 10% or more rather than comparing the most recent EAV to a three-year average. This comes as a recommendation of the Professional Review Panel Distribution Impact Committee. The bill was approved by the Senate Education Committee and is expected to see action by the full Senate next week.


HB 4798 (Rep. Stava-Murray, D-Downers Grove) amends the Educator Licensure article of the School Code. Instead of requiring an applicant for a Substitute Teaching license to hold a bachelor's degree or higher from a regionally accredited institution of higher education, the bill allows an applicant to be enrolled in an approved educator preparation program in Illinois and to have earned at least 90 credit hours. HB 4798 was approved unanimously by the Senate Education Committee this week and will now be considered by the full Senate.


HB 1170 (Rep. Meyers-Martin, D-Matteson) amends the Career and Technical Education Act. The bill would require ISBE, IBHE, ICCB, ISAC and neighboring school districts in Chicago’s south suburbs to collaborate on the refurbishment and opening of a Career and Technical Education Center in the former Rich East Township High School. A House floor committee amendment was discussed in the House Education Curriculum this week. The amendment is being drafted and will be filed before the bill moves to the House floor.


HB 3296 (Rep. Ness, D-Carpentersville) requires school districts to implement a postsecondary and career expectations framework in grades 6-12. School districts that enroll grades 9 -12, shall become eligible to award College and Career Pathway endorsements as outlined in the Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness Act. The bill allows school boards to opt out of the requirements if they can submit materials to ISBE that demonstrate the district is currently doing similar work. HB 3296 also requires school districts to post program information on their websites. The bill passed in the House and the Senate Education Committee. It’s now being considered by the full Senate.


HB 4316 (Rep. Mussman, D-Schaumburg) Faith’s Law (PA 102-0676) passed last year and prohibited sexual misconduct in schools. HB 4316 addresses the loophole for when those guilty of misconduct try to find a job in another district. Currently, there is no mechanism to ensure that a prospective new district would be warned of an offender’s history. This bill requires prospective districts to ask about investigations/discipline related to allegations of sexual misconduct. The measure protects educators against false accusations by not requiring disclosure when investigations have shown an allegation to be false, unfounded, or unsubstantiated. The bill passed the House and the Senate Education Committee unanimously. It is on the calendar of agreed bills in the Senate and expected to pass in coming weeks.


HB 5214 (Rep. Lisa Hernandez, D-Cicero) requires that any parent who is deaf or a non-English speaker and whose student requires an IEP meeting, multidisciplinary conference, 504 meeting, or due process hearing be entitled to the services of an interpreter. The bill also requires ISBE to adopt and implement Rules. The bill passed the House and the Senate Education Committee unanimously and now heads to the Senate.


SB 3914 (Rep. Hernandez, D-Aurora) as introduced provided an additional five mental health days for teachers (in addition to the statutorily required 10 sick days). An amendment was added at the request of school management that allows five of the 10 statutorily allowed sick days to be used for mental health purposes. The bill previously passed the Senate. This week, it unanimously passed the House Education Curriculum committee.


SB 4028 (Rep. Stoneback, D-Skokie) amends the Critical Health Problems and Comprehensive Health Education Act by requiring the inclusion of information about how and where to find mental health resources and specialized treatment in Illinois’ health curriculum. The bill also makes changes to the Youth Mental Health Act, requiring the inclusion of youths aged 14-25 and representatives of community organizations who reflect Illinois’ diversity. The bill passed the Senate unanimously; it also passed in the House Curriculum Committee, but along partisan lines. It now heads to the House floor.


HB 5506 (Rep. Stuart, D-Collinsville) amends the Dual Credit Quality Act. The bill extends to 2025 the ability of individuals to continue instruction who currently have a master’s degree and nine hours towards an additional degree in which they are teaching to enter a professional development plan. Faculty at a higher education institution shall be notified of the dual credit partnership agreement within 15 days of its initiation or renewal. In addition, the partnership agreement between a high school and the higher education institution must ensure rigor for mixed enrollment classes that are attended by students not deemed ready for college-level coursework. The bill was approved by the Senate Education Committee this week and will now be considered by the full Senate