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It’s just a bill

Tuesday, Apr 16, 2019

* 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.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 12:55 pm:

    The kindergarten bill s a little strange, and goes against some research. Older kindergarteners tend to fare better than their younger peers all the way to college. Not sure what kind of jump the Rep is anticipating. Perhaps children need to be in some sort of education to get that jump, not specifically kindergarten.

  2. - Everything I Ever Needed to Know - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 1:19 pm:

    Senator Lightfoot & Rep. Buckner -

    I hope you’ll make that full day kindergarten.

    Hard to believe I know, but 20 percent of schools in Illinois still have “half day” kindergarten, which is less than 2 1/2 hours of instruction.

  3. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 1:19 pm:

    –Critics, like Peoria Republican Chuck Weaver, said parents should decide when kids are ready for school, not the state.–

    I don’t see this proposal banning home-schooling. You can teach your kids at home as long as you like.

    I suspect many working parents would welcome being able to enroll their child a year earlier.

  4. - Everything I Ever Needed to Know - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 1:21 pm:

    Lightford, so sorry! i suspect its not the last time that’s gonna happen….

  5. - KSDinCU - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 1:21 pm:

    Why is that Lightford quote so mangled, while Weaver’s gets a bracketed clarification? Unconscious or conscious bias making your guy look like the better speaker?

  6. - Just Sayin' - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 1:23 pm:

    Forcing kids to go to school early is not a good thing…that is what Sen. Weaver is talking about, not home schooling. It is very helpful (educationally, emotionally, and socially) for many children to wait that extra year before starting Kindergarten. Of the many good articles and studies out there, here is one:

  7. - Tim - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 1:26 pm:

    Continue to spend more and more and more moneybthe state does not yet have. Do they have a printing press in the basement if the capital that I am not aware of?

  8. - A guy - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 1:29 pm:

    There are quite a few “to behold” this session. Yikes. I’m not sure forcing 5 year olds into school is a hot idea. Depending upon when they turn 5, that’s up to 20% of their lifetime. Some are ready, and some would benefit greatly by waiting a year. I have no idea why the state thinks it needs to tread here. Local School Districts have dealt with this pretty well based on individual cases. No need for nanny state involvement here.

  9. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 1:29 pm:

    –It is very helpful (educationally, emotionally, and socially) for many children to wait that extra year before starting Kindergarten.–

    Also, to pound lumps on the younger kids in sports as they progress through the years.

    I know parents who did so for that reason, anyway.

  10. - kindercop - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 1:33 pm:

    wordslinger, this doesn’t change the age at which parents can send their kid to kindergarten so your statement that it allows parents to enroll kids earlier is not true.

    it’s all about deciding when a kid can best succeed. I’m baffled by this. Does it really matter whether a kid graduates at 18 or 19?

  11. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 1:40 pm:

    ===Lightford, so sorry! ===

    I have been scared to death that I’ll write “Mayor-elect Lightford” for weeks. lol

  12. - Streator Curmudgeon - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 2:24 pm:

    I can’t imagine the pensions for part-time firefighters bill would be popular with municipalities. Here in Streator, we’re drowning in pension costs, and one of the solutions proposed was hiring part-time firefighters.

    We’ve recently started Community Service Officers in the police department. They don’t get pensions or benefits cops get. If part-time firefighters get pensions, why wouldn’t these folks deserve them too?

  13. - thoughts matter - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 2:35 pm:

    I started kindergarten when the cut off was age 5 by Dec 1st. I was 4, the youngest in the class due to my birthday. I was 17 when I graduated high school. The only problem I ever had was being younger than my classmates for things like driving and dating. I graduated 3rd in my class.
    Look, these days most parents work and their children are in day care. Many of them at a day care that teaches them to be ready for kindergarten. Working parents like it when the children start school because day care costs go down.

  14. - NeverPoliticallyCorrect - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 2:40 pm:

    Kindergarten issue is one of ensuring daycare for families, especially low-income families. there is no clear consensus on the value of all kids starting socialized group education at 5. Please note, all kids are learning from the time they are born. What school does is provide formal socialized group education. But that doesn’t mean that kids weren’t learning prior to that. This is not needed from a learning perspective.

  15. - Been There - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 2:49 pm:

    ===yet minority representation within unions has not improved.===
    It can’t improve if people don’t sign up. I know the trades actively try and recruit minorities. And we have all seen the Facebook shares when the apprentice applications open up. There should be a bigger push in the schools to get kids interested.

  16. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 2:52 pm:

    ===I know the trades actively try and recruit minorities===

    They say they do.

  17. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 3:04 pm:

    – and one of the solutions proposed was hiring part-time firefighters.–

    Hopefully, you’ll only have part-time fire and EMT calls.

    Had a raging house fire late Saturday night a few blocks from me. Been a long time since I covered fires.

    I think anyone who gripes about public pensions should watch firefighters straddling a third-story rooftop with chainsaws in the middle of a snowy night, cutting holes to ventilate a fully engulfed attic.

  18. - Seats - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 3:06 pm:

    I find the age requirement to be pretty upsetting. If a parent has the means to sent their child through a second year of pre-school due to still being behind in some areas they should have that option.

  19. - Nameless - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 3:41 pm:

    I started kindergarten when I was 5, pre-school when I was 4. Granted, that was in the much more liberal state of Iowa.

  20. - Seats - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 3:51 pm:

    Looked at the bill and it appears it will be fairly manageable for parents who don’t wish to enroll their kids to be able to get a medical waiver.

    That the following children shall not be required to attend the public

    Any child who is physically or mentally unable to attend school, such disability being certified to the county or district truant officer by a competent physician licensed in Illinois to practice medicine and surgery in
    all its branches, a chiropractic physician licensed under the Medical Practice Act of 1987, a licensed advanced practice registered nurse, a licensed physician assistant, or a Christian Science practitioner residing in this State and listed in the Christian Science Journal; or who is excused for temporary absence for cause by the principal or teacher of the school which the child attends; the exemptions in this paragraph do not apply to any female who is pregnant or the mother of one or more children, except where a female is unable to attend school due to a complication arising from her pregnancy and the existence of such complication is certified to the county or district truant officer by a competent physician;

  21. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 4:13 pm:

    I started Kindergarten when I was 4. I’ll let the regulars here use that as anecdotal evidence to decide whether that turned out to be a good or bad thing. :)

  22. - Nova - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 7:19 pm:

    @ Wordslinger, the fire fighters are full time with another department. They work part-time on their days off for other departments. So they have all the required training and experience.

  23. - Old Illini - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 9:16 am:

    This is interesting. My 5 year old daughter (May birthday) was “evaluated” by the Mahomet School System (1990) and it was judged that she was not ready for Kindergarten, and was asked to delay a year.

  24. - Anon in Bolingbrook - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 11:29 am:

    The act sets the cutoff date as May 31 of the school year. So any child that turns 5 before May 31. However, the language is confusing as some areas say “may attend” and other areas put it as shall attend.

    This would have affected my kid, whose birthday is January 30. There was no way he was ready for Kindergarten at age 4. He was a late developer - late to walk, late to talk. Thankfully the act does have the opt-out, because I would have definitely had his pediatrician writing a statement saying he wasn’t ready for Kindergarten.

    He started this school year (age 5) and is doing outstanding. I don’t think he would have done as well if forced to start a year earlier.

    Anyway, the state shouldn’t be forcing these kinds of decisions on parents.

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