The Illinois General Assembly will convene next Tuesday for the second week of the Veto Session. Lawmakers will meet Tuesday through Thursday, November 29-December 1.
Last week, the legislature met to take up several of the bills vetoed by Governor Bruce Rauner and to consider a few leftover items from the spring session. Education-related legislation is listed later in this report. So far for next week, only a handful of committees have set meeting times - more will likely be added later today and tomorrow.
In the Senate last week, where the Democrats have a reliable "veto-proof majority", Senators voted to override the veto of the Governor on seven bills. These bills, all non-education related, will be assigned for consideration in the House of Representatives next week. Thus far in this General Assembly, the House Democrats have had trouble generating enough cohesion to override the Governor's action. Even though Democrats, on paper, have a bare minimum extraordinary majority in the House, a couple of members have always strayed from the House Speaker.
There are currently 39 Democrats in the Illinois Senate; it takes 36 votes to override a veto. There are currently 71 Democrats in the House of Representatives; it takes 71 votes to override a veto in that chamber.
What's in store?
Besides the vetoed bills, a number of items are still being discussed this fall. Number one on the list, of course, is approving a State budget for the remainder of the fiscal year. The budget approved in June contained a full year fiscal plan for K-12 and higher education but only a six-month spending plan for the rest of State government. This expires December 31.
The Governor and the legislative leaders did meet once last week to discuss the budget, but most reports concluded that no real progress was made. Republican leaders were put off when House Speaker Michael Madigan announced that he would not be personally attending subsequent budget summit meetings, but that he would be sending a surrogate from his leadership team. It is highly unlikely that any budget compromise will be ready for a vote next week. It is possible that additional "lame duck" session days will be added later in December or early in January.
In a related development, the House Labor and Commerce Committee is scheduled to meet Monday to consider a bill containing Workers' Compensation Act reforms. HB 4248 (Durkin, R-Western Springs) was introduced in July by the House Republican Leader and, presumably, is comprised of provisions supported by the Governor. So now the motive is being questioned of the House Democrat leadership team which sprung the bill from the Rules Committee and assigned it to the committee that deals with labor issues. Is this a sincere attempt to advance discussion and negotiations on one of the Governor's reform initiatives? Or is this another effort to publicly defeat a major plank of Governor Rauner's "Turnaround Agenda"? The committee will meet at 3:00 Monday afternoon in the Capitol.
There is also ongoing discussion and negotiations on a public utilities bill that would affect rate payers statewide.
SB 2814 (Rita, D-Blue Island) would facilitate a $24.1 billion package to implement a low carbon portfolio standard, a "next generation" energy plan, and future energy jobs. The bill, initially an attempt to keep two nuclear power generators from closing, grew dramatically while provisions were added for other utility companies, ecology groups, ratepayer groups, and coal-powered plants. The bill now allows for rate increases impacting commercial rate payers, including school districts, to pay for the programs outlined in the legislation. The bill is pending on the House floor.
Education-Related Legislation From Last Week
The attempt to override the veto on
HB 6299 (Andrade, D-Chicago) failed. The Alliance worked hard to sustain the Governor's veto which was successful as now the bill is dead. The bill would have
allowed educational support personnel who were dismissed as a result of a Reduction in Force (RIF) to maintain any rights accrued during the previous service with the school district, if that employee returns to the job with that same district.
The resolution containing the General Assembly's response to the Fall 2016 Mandate Waiver Report,
HJR 163 (Crespo, D-Streamwood), was adopted by the House of Representatives. The only waiver request that would be denied is the request made by Central SD 104 seeking to issue $19.5 million in bonds increasing the district's bond debt limit from 6.9% to 19%. The resolution must now be adopted by the Senate.
SB 1506 (Wallace, D-Rockford), as amended, adds regional superintendents, school management, and Chicago principals to the Advisory Council on At-Risk Students established in PA 99-0721. The bill was amended and approved by the House and is awaiting concurrence by the Senate on the House amendment.
The bill that is intended to ease the substitute teacher shortage was approved by the House of Representatives and will be sent to the Governor for his signature.
SB 2912 (Luechtefeld, R-Okawville) makes changes to teacher licensure laws in line with those suggested by Vision 20/20. It addresses provisional in-state educator endorsements, provisional career and technical educator endorsements, substitute teacher licenses (by removing the provision that requires a test of basic skills for renewal), teacher leader endorsements, and minimum requirements for educators trained in other states.
SB 565 (Lightford, D-Maywood),as amended,allows
an age-appropriate developmental and social and emotional screening to be included as part of the examinations and procedures that constitute a health examination. It establishes a working group with the Department of Public Health to develop rules and requires school districts to notify families that the screening is available. The bill is pending on the House floor.
SB 557 (Raoul, D-Chicago) establishes a method to elect a 15 member Board of Education for Chicago schools, by district, beginning March 21, 2018 and subsequently at the Consolidated Election beginning with the 2023 election. Currently, members of the school board for Chicago District 299 are appointed by the Mayor. The bill was the subject of a hearing in the Senate Education Committee but no vote was taken.