* Heidi Stevens…
Illinois schools may soon dramatically alter the way they perform active shooter drills, leading the way for other states to adopt methods that, ideally, leave students and staff less traumatized by a process intended to protect them.
A bill amending the state’s School Safety Drill Act recently passed the Illinois House unanimously and now awaits a vote in the Senate. It calls for parents or guardians to be notified prior to an active shooter drill, for the school to announce drills ahead of time, for the drills to avoid simulations that mimic an actual school shooting incident and for mental health professionals to be included in the planning of the drills.
Yes, yes, yes, yes and one more yes for good measure.
“This sounds like a really good bill,” said Melissa Reeves, associate professor of psychology at Winthrop University in South Carolina and past president of the National Association of School Psychologists. “If it passes, I’m definitely going to be using that as an example of what other states can do.”
* Chicago Tribune editorial…
…House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch should free House Bill 2994 from his Rules Committee. Sponsored by Tim Butler, R-Springfield, the bill would allow a vote on government consolidation in his district. Last week, when the bill appeared to be dying in committee, he chastised Welch for sitting on the bill for political reasons.
Move the bill, Mr. Speaker. Voters in Butler’s district should be able to decide whether to combine their governments.
The elimination of any one of these tiny entities doesn’t amount to much by itself. But a sustained drive to reduce their number would pay off in the long run. It brings to mind what Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu of South Africa said: “There is only one way to eat an elephant — a bite at a time.”
* But here’s a counter-point in an SJ-R op-ed by Bill Houlihan…
Sangamon County is home to twenty-six townships, each with their own elected township officials. Representative Butler’s bill only targets the most diverse township with Sangamon County, Capital Township. Under the pretense of “eliminating bureaucracy and inefficiency,” Butler and local Republicans seek to disenfranchise a significant number of voters within our county. For the decades-long total control local Republicans have held on Capital Township, there were never any issues with the services provided and dissolving this essential level of government was never mentioned.
What has changed since 2016 when Representative Butler and local Republicans started their self-serving crusade? Where is Representative Butler’s bill to dissolve Ball, Fancy Creek, or Rochester Townships in Sangamon County? I cannot help but think that part of Representative Butler’s newfound interest in eliminating Capital Township may stem from the fact that after three decades of total Republican control over Capital Township, voters have overwhelmingly elected a young, dynamic black woman not once but twice, Democrat Lakeisha Purchase.
While I question Representative Butler’s intent with this legislation, what is not in question is what will happen if this bill is enacted. Unlike in every other township in Sangamon County, voters in Capital Township will not have the same rights to elect the people that serve them and guide how their township tax dollars are used. Instead, county government Republicans will be given unchecked access to Capital Township tax dollars that will be used to pad their own budgets and personal paychecks. All while not having to be concerned about Capital Township voters being able to hold them accountable in the next election. Simply put, this is taxation without representation.
* Center Square…
A lawmaker’s long-sought resolution to create a new state by separating the rest of Illinois from Cook County was the subject of an Illinois House hearing this week.
State Rep. Brad Halbrook, R-Shelbyville, has for years filed resolutions at the statehouse to create a new state out of all the counties with the exception of Cook County. He had his first hearing on HR 102 Wednesday, saying predictions of a state being controlled by a major urban center have come true in Illinois.
“There are different needs, there are different interests, different cultures, different economy,” Halbrook told the House State Government Administration Committee on Wednesday. “A one-size-fits-all and a top-down approach does not work.”
The committee chair asked Halbrook to come back with more data and support from the 101 counties outside of Cook. Halbrook noted that a separate movement has produced such support from nearly a third of the counties.
* The school bus lobby (including local school districts) is quite strong here. I’ve seen safety measures come and go for decades…
There are two bills making their way through the Illinois General Assembly, with the main focus of making sure drivers can see the stop signs on school buses better.
Senate Bill 1808 and House Bill 2584 are similar. The goal is to give schools the option to make stop signs on buses easier to see.
The bills would allow the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) to create a pilot program to test the safety of equipment like extended stop arms, which currently aren’t allowed to be used.
Emphasis added. Safety devices are currently allowed to project only “up to 14 inches beyond each side of a bus.”
* Other bills…
* Pritzker budget seeks to net state $932M by eliminating ‘corporate loopholes’
* Illinois bill managing $700 million in rental assistance poised for governor
* Illinois could incentivize employers to give living organ donors 30 days paid time off
* Lawmaker wants to limit third party delivery apps