Illinois’ legislative session is winding down in earnest, and Gov. JB Pritzker will soon be faced with the task of deciding whether to carry out the lawmakers’ ideas by signing them into law.
That includes bills that prevent license plate reading technology from being used by other states seeking to extradite residents who travel to Illinois for abortions (HB3326), which require Illinois college core course credits to be transferable to other 4-year state public schools. educational institutions (HB2288) and the requirement that if a new drinking fountain is installed where required by the state, a water bottle filling station must also be installed (SB1715).
In some arenas, the opposite is true. The General Assembly was unwilling or unable to pass packages updating the state’s legal marijuana policy despite petitioners calling for fixes to the troubled social equity system. Illinois is also postponing next steps for Chicago’s elected school board, and lawmakers have rejected requests from the business community to reform a law regulating biometrics.
Here’s a rundown of where some of the more significant non-budget measures are located.
CPS ELECTED SCHOOL BOARD
Advocates who fought long and hard to fight for mayoral control of Chicago Public Schools got away with it in 2021 with a law creating an elected school board. The conversion is not simple, and that law left much to be decided before the transition is complete, such as determining the 20 districts that will serve on the board. The state legislature has been assigned the task of drawing the boundaries, with a deadline of this July.
Parent and community groups criticized the first two attempts by lawmakers to draw a map.
“After watching the redistricting process over the past few months, it’s obvious what parents want: fair racial representation so that the school board looks like and understands the students and the communities in which they live,” Daniel Anello , Executive Director of Kids First Chicago. he said in a statement.
Instead of moving forward, lawmakers are giving themselves more time to complete their task. They will have an additional nine months, until April 1, 2024, to draw electoral districts. That’s just seven months before the first school board elections, on November 5 of next year.
In a statement, state Rep. Ann Williams, D-Chicago, said lawmakers “remain on track.”
“Over the past several weeks, we have solicited feedback and engaged in a robust dialogue with community stakeholders about what the new CPS Elected School Board district maps should look like,” Williams said. “…While the conversations have been extremely productive to date, we believe that in order to create the strongest road map possible and ensure that all Chicagoans can choose the candidates who best represent their values, our work must continue.”
It also remains undecided which 10 of the 20 districts will be part of that election. Candidates in the other half of the districts won’t run for another two years, meaning that from 2025 to 2027 the board will be made up of half elected members and half mayors-appointed.
The CPS change is but one line in a comprehensive ballot measure (SB2123) that creates a task force on ranked-choice voting, a process in which voters don’t just choose a single candidate; instead, voters essentially make a list of preferences.
The ballot omnibus measure also paves the way for 16-year-olds to be able to vote if it weren’t for their age to pre-register to vote.
The final version before the legislature removes a provision that would have provided voter registration forms to new citizens after their naturalization ceremonies.
While non-public employees may still be required to report to work on November 5, 2024, the move makes it a state holiday.
The next stop for the measure is the governor’s desk.
RED LIGHT CAMERAS
Cameras that capture and flag drivers for running red lights have caught a handful of Illinois elected officials and legislators with more than just traffic citations.
The former mayors of Crestwood and Oakbrook Terrace, a Cook County commissioner and his chief of staff were also convicted of bribery or kickbacks. Former state Sen. Martin Sandoval, D-Cicero, in 2020 pleaded guilty to accepting $250,000 in bribes in exchange for blocking legislation that would harm the red-light camera industry, but he died while awaiting sentencing.
And State Senator Emil Jones III is currently fighting charges that he accepted a bribe from the red-light camera company SafeSpeed.
Jones just voted for ethics legislation (HB3903) that would prohibit red light camera companies from contributing to any local or state political campaign.
Campaign finance experts say such a ban could challenge First Amendment protections, but the measure passed the Senate last week and the House on Thursday without any opposition.
If signed into law by Gov. JB Pritzker, any elected official in Illinois will also be barred from accepting a job or contract from a red-light camera company for at least two years after leaving office.
TRIAL LIMITS FOR CONSTITUTIONAL CHALLENGES
Lawsuits by gun owners seeking to overturn an Illinois law that classifies hundreds of guns as assault weapons and has banned the sale of such firearms since January is a high-profile example of a court challenge to a “statute, rule or executive order” of the state. based on an alleged violation of the Constitution of the State of Illinois or the Constitution of the United States.”
If Gov. JB Pritzker signs the measure into law, such future constitutional lawsuits could only be brought in Cook or Sangamon counties, the counties that are home to, respectively, Illinois’ largest city and capital.
The measure (HB3062) that would limit where plaintiffs can sue the state of Illinois was sponsored by Democrats, at the urging of Attorney General Kwame Raoul.
Sponsor Jay Hoffman, D-Swansea, said critics seeking to stop Pritzker’s COVID-19 executive orders requiring masking and restricting business operations sought beneficial court venues. Having cases in multiple Illinois counties, with sometimes conflicting rulings, sometimes led to confusion, something Hoffman said would be avoided by limiting where such lawsuits can be filed.
But Republicans, who voted against the proposal, said it’s really an effort by Democrats to secure legal advantage, in a way that will inhibit residents who don’t live near Chicago or Springfield.
“In my community, if this body passes constitutionally questionable legislation, which we seem to routinely do, that results in a court challenge, people from my community will have to travel to Springfield to challenge that action,” the state representative said. Patrick. Winhorst, R-Metropolis, said. “Where I live, I’m closer to the state capital of Tennessee than I am to Illinois,” and I’m almost as close to Atlanta, Georgia as I am to Chicago, Illinois. So… if this body passes an unconstitutional law, for me or someone else in my community to challenge that law, I have to travel a great distance and bear the expenses that go with it. It is not fair to the individuals in these communities.”
A package amending Illinois’ procurement policies includes language (HB2878) that paves the way for public-private partnerships on transportation projects, despite concerns from opponents that they fear a lack of proper oversight.
A particular project could be on the horizon.
A non-binding resolution (HJR23) adopted by both chambers encourages IDOT to pursue the public-private partnership for a managed lane (a “highway lane that is managed through a management scheme, such as lane restrictions or variable tolls”). on I-55.
White Castle could be in the red after a court case put the burger chain on the hook for $17 billion in damages for violation of Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA).
Just as a slider is relatively cheap (a “1921 Cheddar Slider” is $2.39 in Chicago) on its own, but the purchase of hundreds of “Crave Cases” would add up, the White Castle lawsuit skyrocketed because it was penalized with a $1000 BIPA violation for every hour an employee’s fingerprint was scanned.
Illinois business organizations said the case shows that strict Illinois law makes the state inhospitable and pushed lawmakers to rewrite the law.
Democrats proposed a series of changes (HB3811), but business groups last week called it a “red herring” that would have resulted in a worse business climate.
Negotiations then stalled, leaving BIPA’s current statute standing.
“The business regulation that we have here in Illinois with our biometric privacy law, is a litigation nightmare and has cost Illinois businesses billions of dollars in settlements involving cases that have never proven any harm,” said the leader. Senate Republican John Curran.
Note: This article was updated to provide additional comments on the elected school board map.
Follow Amanda Vinicky on Twitter: @AmandaVinicky