* Keep in mind that not a single substantive committee meeting has yet been held in either chamber. So, this period is akin to the lead-up to pitchers and catchers reporting. Most of these ideas make for great press pops, and that’s about it…
Lawmakers are toying with the idea of legalizing the sale of fireworks in Illinois. State Rep David Reis says it would be a great way to boost state revenues and keep people from going to other states to pick them up. But some fire chiefs and law enforcement officials think it’s a bad idea. They say it’ll cause a spike in fire related injuries and any extra money that comes in would be offset with increased medical claims and calls to first responders.
* I’d like to see this pass, but some school reformers (like Gov. Rauner) tend to love standardized testing because it can be used as a tool to put pressure on the hated teachers. So, this idea may have an uncertain future…
Parents and educators alike have been questioning the increasing number of standardized tests now required in public schools. A measure filed by Illinois State Representative Will Guzzardi would give moms and dads a way to allow their kid to skip these exams.
“Seven other states have statutes allowing parents to opt out of their standardized testing,” Gizzard says. “Those states haven’t seen any sort of diminishment of their federal funding or anything like that, as some of the doom-and-gloom folks suggest might happen.”
Those states are California, Pennsylvania, Washington, Wisconsin, Oregon, Nebraska and Utah.
* Nice press pop, really bad idea…
State Representative Ron Sandack (R-Downers Grove) filed legislation this week that would make Illinois the 25th state that allows municipalities to seek bankruptcy protections under Chapter 9 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.
Chapter 9 allows for bankruptcy protection, but includes a provision that requires a municipality to gain state authorization as part of the filing. Currently, Illinois statutes do not allow for such authorization for municipal governments.
“House Bill 298 would allow desolate and debt-ridden municipalities in Illinois to seek bankruptcy protections through the federal bankruptcy law,” said Sandack. “As more and more municipalities are looking for relief and ways to deal with rising pension liabilities and other costs, this is a tool that can help them stabilize and reorganize financial affairs in ways that benefit taxpayers.”
* Press release…
In an effort to give terminally-ill patients access to clinical-trial, experimental medical treatments, the bipartisan duo of State Sen. Michael Connelly (R-Lisle) and State Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) are seeking to bring “Right to Try” to Illinois.
If passed, Senate Bill 29 would make Illinois the sixth state in the nation to pass this potentially lifesaving access to experimental medical treatments. Arizona, Colorado, Louisiana, Michigan and Missouri have pass the initiatives either through their legislatures or through referenda.
“It is incumbent upon us in the General Assembly to provide our constituents afflicted with terminal illness access to potentially life-saving or life-extending medications that have been deemed safe by the FDA. This legislation does just that,” Connelly said.
“I hope this shows that in Illinois, Republicans and Democrats, social liberals or social conservatives, can reach across the aisle to solve problems for suffering families. These families are desperate to cut through red-tape to access possible cures for their loved ones when all other treatments have failed.” Harris said. “‘Right to try’ is a huge leap forward to help connect our state’s most terminal patients with some of the nation’s best medical resources, including those here in Chicago and give them the gift of life.”
Good idea, but it’s gonna take a whole lot of work and attention to details.
* Illinois Review…
One Illinois lawmaker who is working to give Illinois kids a good education now is State Rep. Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton, who told the crowd of parents and students that she’s dedicated to making school choice a reality in Illinois.
Ives isn’t starting from scratch. A pilot voucher program nearly passed the General Assembly in 2010, when a Democratic state senator and a Democratic state representative took up the education reform mantle. The legislation passed the Illinois Senate, but stalled in the Illinois House with the help of downstate Republican lawmakers who refused to support parental choice because of the power of the public schools, which are one of the region’s largest employers.
Ives said she intends to shepherd through the House two education reform proposals this year: one to resurrect the failed 2010 voucher bill and another to increase the state’s tuition tax credit above the current meager $500 level.
Ives hasn’t passed any major legislation before, preferring instead to oppose things. It’s encouraging that she now wants to be part of a solution, but she has a lot of bridges to repair.
* And something different…
Lawmakers in Illinois may take action that would reduce the price parents pay for diapers.
State Senator Martin Sandoval is proposing that the state sales tax on diapers and wipes be cut from 6.25 percent to 1 percent.
The lower rate is the one charged for groceries, medicine and certain medical products.