* The number of so-far successful bills that could fundamental change things in this state is really quite something to behold…
Kids in Illinois would have to start kindergarten at 5-years-old under a plan moving ahead at the statehouse. […]
The Illinois Senate last week approved a plan to lower the age to 5-years-old. Many parents start their children at age 6. Existing state law says kids have to be in school between ages 7 and 17.
Democrat Kim Lightford said lowering the school age will get kids a jump.
“It’s time for them not to wait until their 6-years-old to start school,” Lightford said at the statehouse last week. “If parents feel that their kids who turn 5 over the summer months, then they have the extra year to make sure their kids are ready.”
Critics, like Peoria Republican Chuck Weaver, said parents should decide when kids are ready for school, not the state.
“Parents are very concerned about the state taking the decision away from them,” Weaver said. “A lot of kids aren’t prepared to go to school at age 5. This makes that mandatory, it takes that [decision] away from parents.”
* This fight has been coming for a very long time…
Members of the Senate Black Caucus are fighting a bill that would force private firms to pay their workers the prevailing wage in an area — a move the business community claims is tantamount to “forced unionization” — at least until trade unions can promise meaningful inclusion of minority workers in their ranks.
SB 1407, sponsored by State Sen. Mike Hastings (D-Orland Park), would require construction workers at “high-hazard facilities” — like oil refineries and ethanol plants — to be “skilled journey persons” with advanced safety training.
The measure would also require companies who employ these workers to pay them at least the prevailing wage that a union member would receive in that area.
Though the Black Caucus has not taken an official position on the bill, its members have privately been laying down a hard line during bill negotiations. Earlier last week, State Sen. Elgie Sims (D-Chicago) would only say that negotiations were ongoing. But since then, State Sen. Emil Jones III (D-Chicago) has taken over negotiations on the caucus’ behalf.
Jones referenced the years of fighting between the Black Caucus and trade unions, saying that it’s a fight his father, former Senate President Emil Jones (D-Chicago) also took on, and yet minority representation within unions has not improved.
* Penalty enhancements appear to be back in vogue…
The Illinois State Senate has passed a bill to crack down on inmates who expose themselves to correctional officers and others.
WGN Investigates reported on the problem back in 2017 when Cook County Jail inmates set fire to new uniforms meant to prevent them from exposing themselves and throwing bodily fluid at staff and visitors. […]
The new bill allows correctional administrators to revoke up to 90-days of “good behavior” credit for inmates who do it. Repeat offenders could see as much as a year of “good behavior” time taken away for each subsequent charge.
* Other stuff…
* A New Association Fights for Illinois Counties: Joe McCoy, who lobbied for years for the Illinois Municipal League, brings his legislative experience to work on behalf of the counties across the state and to bring lawmakers the issues that the counties say need addressing.
* Group backs legislation to expand medical cannabis program: Along with making the state’s pilot program permanent, it adds health conditions that could qualify for medical cannabis care, including autism, chronic pain, migraines, anorexia and kidney disease. Patients under 18 would be able to see more designated caregivers, and veterans would qualify for the Opioid Alternative Pilot Program.
* Bill would put fire departments staffed by part-timers on hook for pension costs: Should the bill become law, any town larger than 5,000 people that hires a part-time firefighter would be required to pay into the pension system of their full-time employer. State Sen. Melinda Bush said larger departments are beginning to keep their full-time firefighters from taking extra work. “This is really about sharing in the liability issues when you’re a firefighter,” she said. “If you are hurt, at this point the primary employer is taking all of the responsibility.”
* Lawmakers to vote on adding DACA, work visa immigrants to Medicaid rolls: “Sixty percent of DACA recipients are already insured,” she said. “We’re looking at people who are already paying taxes, people that are already either DACA recipients or legal permanent residents who are already eligible for Medicaid.”