Illinois lawmakers have renewed bipartisan efforts to address the Chicago Public Schools sexual abuse scandal, filing bills designed to protect students by making sweeping changes to state laws.
Legislators last year proposed 12 bills that would allow state officials to swiftly revoke the licenses of educators found to have sexually abused children, lift the intense secrecy around disciplined teachers and make it a crime for a school employee to have sexual contact with a student regardless of age, among other fixes.
None of those proposals, which were filed late in the legislative session, made it to a floor vote last year. But state Sen. Thomas Cullerton, D-Villa Park, said he now plans “to move forward as fast as possible” with twin bills he crafted with Barrington Hills Republican Rep. David McSweeney.
“It is up to us to get some accountability here,” Cullerton said. “You can’t just leave this on the shelf. It is too important for our kids.”
* Madison County Record…
An Illinois lawmaker has made some tweaks to his “parental bullying” legislation, but an opponent says it still goes too far.
State Rep. La Shawn Ford, a Chicago Democrat, in December filed House Bill 181, which would have created the offense of parental bullying. The bill’s synopsis stated that a parent or legal guardian of a child would commit the petty offense, punishable by a fine, “when he or she knowingly and with the intent to discipline, embarrass, or alter the behavior of the minor, transmits any verbal or visual message that the parent or legal guardian reasonably believes would coerce, intimidate, harass, or cause substantial emotional distress to the minor.”
The bill also stated that, if convicted, “a portion of any fine imposed, as determined by the court, be placed in escrow for the purchase of a certificate of deposit for use by the victim when he or she attains 18 years of age.”
More than 70 people filled out witness slips with the House’s Judiciary Committee, in opposition to the bill. […]
“We don’t like government getting in between parents and raising their children,” said Ralph Rivera, a lobbyist for the [Illinois Family Institute]. “Obviously, abuse and neglect are a different matter. But we have to be careful when we infringe on the rights of parents to discipline and raise their children.”
* The Southern…
Legislation that would raise the minimum age to purchase cigarettes, e-cigarettes, vapes, chewing tobacco and other products in Illinois to 21 made it past its first legislative hurdle Tuesday.
The Senate bill sponsored by Julie Morrison, a Democrat from Deerfield, won the approval of the chamber’s Public Health Committee along party lines, by a vote of 8 to 4.
But the Republican members did not focus on the main issues the tobacco 21 initiative faced in previous legislative sessions. Instead, they took issue with the removal of language from current state law establishing penalties for minors in possession of tobacco. […]
Morrison said her bill removes that language in an effort to “refocus the responsibility” onto the retailers who sell the tobacco product, as opposed to placing it on the minors who purchase the product.
* Illinois News Network…
The Senate will take another crack at raising the minimum pay for Illinois teachers. Senate Bill 10 from state Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hills, is similar to the bill that passed last year, but was vetoed by Gov. Bruce Rauner. Rauner said pay practices should be left to locally elected school boards.
“[That] approach to teacher compensation both limits a school district’s local control and imposes a significant unfunded mandate on school districts,” Rauner wrote in his veto message last year.
With a new governor and Democratic supermajorities in both chambers, Manar got his bill through the Senate education committee Tuesday. He said it won’t increase how much the state gives school districts under the recently passed school funding formula, but it will have a local impact with the initial year of the five-year phase into $40,000 being just over $32,000.
“[The first year is] $32,076,” Manar said. “And I don’t hide behind that. This has a budgetary impact on local school districts.”