* Chalkbeat Chicago…
A union-backed bill to establish a 21-person elected school board in Chicago is regaining momentum in Springfield. But critics including business groups and the city’s mayor remain opposed.
That hasn’t stopped the bill from passing a key committee this week and heading to the House floor. But Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s opposition, which some suggest helped derail previous versions of the bill, has encouraged opponents to push for a compromise proposal, to reduce the size of the elected board or seek a hybrid model with some members appointed and others elected.
Earlier this week, at a House Ethics and Elections Committee hearing, a Lightfoot deputy hinted at an alternate proposal in the works. When asked, her spokeswoman would not provide specifics.
“We are working toward some governance changes for the district,” said Patrick Hall, the deputy director of intergovernmental affairs. (Lightfoot campaigned on an elected school board but recently told the New York Times that reopening campuses amid the COVID-19 pandemic would not have been possible without mayoral control.)
* CBS 2…
A bill to stop illegal gun ownership in Illinois could be closer to becoming law. […]
“It insures we do background checks, it ensure we obtain finger prints, it ensures were are giving the Illinois State Police the ability to take the guns of folks that shouldn’t have them and it makes sure that we’re getting funding, life-saving mental health funding, to the communities that have been most impacted by gun violence ,” Sen. Ram Villivalam said. “The time to act is now.”
The senator says he has 25 co-sponsors in the state Senate and needs five more to sign on.
Those last five will obviously be the toughest.
* Center Square…
The Classrooms First Act aims to free up school district administrative dollars and target the money to schools. […]
The bill would create the school District Efficiency Commission which would then make recommendations on consolidation. The recommendation would go directly to voters, allowing parents, teachers and taxpayers living within that school district to make the final decision. The goal is to reduce the total number of school districts by 25%.
The bill faces opposition from the Illinois Association of School Boards and from over 100 school administrators. According to Illinois Policy, 21 of the administrators make a salary above $200,000 a year.
In Illinois, district-level general administration costs $598 per student, which is 2.5 times the national average. In the past 4 years, both student enrollment and teacher employment at Illinois K-12 public school districts fell by 2%, while the number of administrators grew by 1.5%, according to Illinois Policy.
* Another from Center Square…
Members of the Illinois House Revenue and Finance Committee advanced a bill Thursday that would allow suburban Chicago counties to spend tax revenue that is protected by the state constitution’s lockbox amendment on “nonvehicular public travel, sidewalks, and bike paths.”
State Rep. Bob Morgan, D-Highwood, said his bill would not require counties to use the revenue in this way, rather just give them the choice. […]
Republicans feared the expansion of the protected funds would further siphon money away from the state’s ailing roads and bridges.
“It’s probably better-served that most sidewalks, bike paths, things like that are covered by other counties, municipalities, park districts and things where people expect some of those projects to be funded from,” said Rep. Tim Ozinga, R-Mokena. “Nearly 80% of the voters made it very clear that they want their motor fuel tax and road funds to be used for their roads.”
Ozinga is the vice president of Ozinga Bros. Inc., which lays concrete and participates in projects that likely use the aforementioned tax revenues.
* ACLU Illinois…
ACLU Celebrates Approval of House Bill 1727 - The Bad Apples in Law Enforcement Accountability Act - by the Illinois House Restorative Justice Committee
“Today’s vote in Committee is significant. In response to repeated examples of egregious police misconduct – often captured on videotape for the world to see – Illinois residents are told that these horrific experiences reflect “just a few bad apples” in law enforcement. But the public is often frustrated by the reality that these supposed “bad apples” rarely are held accountable. For too long, special protections like qualified immunity create an almost insurmountable barrier to justice for people whose constitutional rights have been violated by police. HB 1727 changes that and provides the people of this state a chance to hold bad police officers accountable when they violate someone’s constitutional rights.
In polling conducted late in 2020, nearly 70% of Illinois voters supported this initiative. We thank Representative Tarver for his leadership in moving this bill forward and look forward to a vote on the floor of the House. Now is the time for the General Assembly to take action. We can’t afford to wait.”