April 7, 2017

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The Illinois House of Representatives passed what is being described as a "lifeline" budget on Thursday. House Bill 109 (Harris, D-Chicago) was passed mainly along party lines with 64 in favor of the measure. HB 109 would provide $800 million in funding to social service providers and higher education. While these two areas have been some of the hardest hit without a state budget, opponents believed that this measure would only delay a vote on an actual budget. The supporters of the bill, stated they were giving a "lifeline" to institutions of higher education that have faced unprecedented cuts and instability as well as social service agencies that may have shuttered their doors without receiving funding from the State of Illinois. While Governor Bruce Rauner has previously agreed with the stop gap budget approach, he has been on record as opposing any future stop gap measures. The bill was passed after the Senate had already adjourned for the two week legislative Spring Break. It is unlikely that HB 109 would see the Governor's desk until early May. The 64 affirmative votes in the House would not be enough to override a predicted Rauner veto. 
The House of Representatives expedited passage of a bill containing its version of property tax relief. HB 156 (Mussman, D-Schaumburg) was amended on Tuesday, passed out of the House Revenue and Finance Committee and passed out of the House of Representatives, Thursday to be considered by the Senate upon its return after the spring legislative break. The bill would:  
  • Expand the Homestead Exemption for Veterans with disabilities to any veteran who is 75 or older, changes the levels of exemption per % of disability and adds extending the exemption to surviving spouse in the case of death of the disabled veteran.
  • Increase the Senior Citizens Homestead Exemption from $5,000 to $6,000
  • Create a new Assessment Freeze Homestead Exemption for those receiving Supplemental Security Income beginning in taxable year 2017 for property improved with a permanent structure and disallows a person receiving this exemption from receiving the Senior Citizens Assessment Freeze or the new Long-time Occupant Homestead Exemption.
  • Increase the General Homestead Exemption from $6,000 (all other counties) and $7,000 (Cook) to $8,000 for all counties
  • Create a new Statewide Long-time Occupant Homestead Exemption providing an additional exemption based on the length of time a homeowner has resided at a residence. The exemption would be $2,000 for 8 years of residency up to $4,800 for 21 years or longer.
  • Increases the Senior Citizens Real Estate Tax Deferral limit from $5,000 to $6,000
  The legislative spring break is a great time for school board members and administrators to reach out to local legislators to advocate on behalf of local schools. During the next two weeks, legislators will be in district seeking input from constituents on a variety of issues. Make sure your voice is heard on the pressing issues for your school district during this important advocacy time. Provide your legislators with data demonstrating the impact of property tax relief measures, newly proposed mandates and other important pending legislation.
The following bills passed the full House and will be taken up in the Senate at a future date:
HB 370 (Mayfield, D-Waukegan), opposed by the Alliance, requires schools to post the telephone number for the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) child abuse hotline.
HB 760 (Lang, D-Chicago) allows the East Prairie School District 73 to exceed its debt limit with voter approval and requires any school district seeking legislative approval to exceed debt limit to hold a public hearing with proper notification, and hold a referendum for voter approval of the additional debt.
HB 2378 (Drury, D-Highwood) removes language requiring a student's transcript to show the scores attained by the student on a state assessment that includes a college and career ready determination.
HB 2426 (Currie, D-Chicago) requires that 25% of the overall Early Childhood Education Block Grant be allocated to programs for children 0-3 years of age.
HB 2505 (Zalewski, D-Riverside) allows Brookfield LaGrange Park School District #95 to exceed their debt limit not to exceed $20,000,000 if the voters approve and the school board determines, by resolution, that the additions and renovations to the  buildings are required to accommodate enrollment growth, replacing outdated facilities and create spaces consistent with 21st century learning.
HB 2540 (Willis, D-Addison) provides an appeals process through intermediate service centers for a school district that loses a petition to withdraw from its special education joint agreement program.
HB 2950 (Conyears-Ervin) requires schools to designate personnel and quarterly provide students information about what to do and resources available if the student is being bullied.
HB 2993 (Slaughter, D-Chicago) allows schools to serve produce grown by students in school or community gardens if the produce meets the Department of Public Health (DPH) requirements.
HB 3059 (Pritchard) requires school district report cards to include ADA by grade level.
HB 3139 (Chapa LaVia, D-Aurora), facilitating the work of the Balanced Accountability Model, establishes a definition of chronic absenteeism and requires school districts to collect and review the data and determine needed resources to engage chronically absent students and their families.
HB 3368 (Sims, D-Chicago), as amended, requires the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) to post resources regarding the teaching of entrepreneurial skills for used by school districts with high schools.
HB 3394 (Walsh, D-Joliet) was amended to allow DCFS to recommend removal of a school employee that is subject of an investigation, pending the outcome, but allows all employment decisions to be the sole responsibility of the school district or employer. Prohibits DCFS from requiring a district to remove the employee or limit their duties pending the outcome of an investigation.
HB 3507 (Greenwood, D-E. St. Louis) allows a student to accrue up to 5 days absence if his/her parent is active duty military and has been called to duty for, on leave from, or has immediately returned from deployment.
HB 3615 (Jesiel, R-Antioch) changes due process rights for any school employee accused of child abuse or neglect.
HB 3684 (Burke, K. D-Oak Lawn) changes the certification requirements for food handling certified food service sanitation managers and food service sanitation manager instructors beginning January 1, 2018.
HB 3784 (Sosnowski, R-Rockford) removes the ability of a school district to deny enrollment for 17 year old students for failure to meet minimum academic standards and provides that no child may be denied re-enrollment under sections referring to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
HB 3869 (Wallace, D-Rockford) requires in-service training for school personnel on cultural competency, including understanding implicit racial bias.
HB 3907 (Moylan, D-Des Plaines), as amended to address Alliance concerns, makes changes to the Law Enforcement safety drill requirement to make it more similar to fire drill requirements.
The following bills passed the full Senate and will be taken up in the House at a future date:
SB 609 (Morrison, D-Deerfield), as amended, allows taxpayers to appeal a PTAB decision directly to PTAB when PTAB decisions are rendered after the deadline for filing complaints with the Board of Review.
SB 1722 (Munoz, D-Chicago), as amended, in addition to several provisions, enhances penalties for delivering or manufacturing cannabis, controlled substances, methamphetamine within 500 feet of a school (instead of 1,000 feet).
The following bills were passed out of Senate Committees and await further action from the full Senate:
SB 446 (Lightford, D-Westchester) creates a program for dropouts that would give double the Foundation Level of support for each dropout that has been reenrolled. New programs would be required utilizing the additional funding and requires that new programs have a minimum of 50 reenrolled high school dropouts.
SB 1223 (Lightford) as amended, requires each school district to have a policy that allows for accelerated placement including reporting of certain data to the ISBE. The required policy must include process for informing families, a process that allows for multiple referrers, a prescripted assessment process, a reasonable evaluation timeline, placement decision-making that involves multiple persons, a written plan for parents, an appeals process for decisions and other directives.
SB 1796 (Hastings, D-Frankfort) creates the Students Online Personal Protection Act. Contains various provisions to safe guard student data.
SB 1856 (Bivins, R-Dixon), regarding the prevailing wage, allows public bodies to satisfy the notice requirement by posting on its website the hyperlink to the DOL website.
SB 1887 (Koehler, D-Peoria) for certain homestead exemptions and assessment freezes, provides that if the person receiving the exemption/assessment freeze is a resident of a Supportive Living Program facility the exemption/freeze shall continue so long as the residence is occupied by the qualifying person's spouse remains unoccupied but is owned by the qualifying person.

This legislative report was 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.