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Senate Week in Review: August 7-11, 2017

With the Illinois Senate scheduled to vote August 13 on a partisan school funding plan that gives special favors to the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) at the expense of suburban and downstate schools, Senate Republicans remain opposed to Senate Bill 1.

Senate Bill 1 is not the result of bipartisan compromise and we must develop a school-funding formula that treats all school districts fairly and equitably. 

Senate Republicans call for bipartisan compromise, point to Senate Bill 1’s shortcomings

We remain committed to finding compromise on a school funding bill that fixes the state’s broken school-aid formula, but we will not support the Democrat legislative leaders’ Senate Bill 1—which masks a Chicago school bailout as funding reform. Voting to support Senate Bill 1 in its original form is the only vote the Senate will be allowed to take, according to the Democrat leaders.

Senate Bill 1 in its current form directs hundreds of millions of extra dollars to one school district—Chicago Public Schools.  The Governor issued an Amendatory Veto of SB1, which makes the bill much more fair to all students across the state, but the Democrats are attempting to override his veto.  Hopefully, they will fail and we can actually reach a negotiated compromise for a change. 

Time is of the essence, and all sides must come together to find a compromise that represents real equity and treats all 852 school districts and all students fairly regardless of ZIP code. Until a new “evidence-based” school funding model mandated by the Fiscal Year 2018 budget is put into place, public schools will not receive Fiscal Year 2018 state funding.  

The Senate is scheduled to convene at 2:00 p.m. on August 13.

Illinois adopts new set of purchasing rules 

Illinois now has a new set of rules for its purchasing system. Signed into law August 9, Senate Bill 8 makes the state procurement process more efficient and transparent, while also saving money for Illinois taxpayers.

One of the highlights in the new set of rules is the elimination of unnecessary administrative delays for state universities. The new law will also permit Illinois to enter into joint purchasing agreements with other units of government, allowing state and local government entities to save money because of their increased purchasing power.

For years, Illinois has had procurement rules that were often confusing and difficult for vendors, state entities, and universities. The new law removes a lot of the red tape, making it easier for small and midsize businesses to bid on state contracts.

With these new rules, Illinois is now more in line with the best practices followed by other states.

New law allows parolees to receive free birth certificates

To make it easier for individuals out of prison to re-enter society, Governor Bruce Rauner signed Senate Bill 1413 to allow men and women to receive their birth certificates for no fee upon their release from the Department of Corrections.  

Senate Bill 1413 amends The Vital Records Act, which currently charges a $10 fee to search birth records and a $5 fee for a certified copy of a birth certificate. The new law allows for a one-time waiving of the $10 and $5 fees for a person upon release on parole, mandatory supervised release, final discharge, or pardon from the Department of Corrections.

In signing the legislation into law August 9, Governor Rauner noted the difficulties individuals face when trying to find housing or to get a job once they leave prison. He added that the new law removes an unnecessary obstacle standing in the way of an offender’s second chance at life.

Residents ages 16 and 17 allowed to register as organ donors, under new law 

Residents ages 16 and 17 can now become organ and tissue donors, under the Drive for Life Act signed into law August 8.

Under House Bill 1805, Illinois residents ages 16 and older can join the First Person Consent Organ and Tissue donor registry when they receive their driver’s licenses or state ID cards. While the law gives residents ages 16 and 17 the right to express their wishes to become an organ donor, parents and guardians will still have the right to give or revoke consent until the donor turns age 18.

Illinois joins the 47 other states that allow residents ages 16 and 17 to register as organ donors.

Illinois State Fair kicks off

The 2017 Illinois State Fair is now underway. The Fair officially kicked off August 10 with the annual Twilight Parade, which signifies the beginning of the 10-day annual showcase of Illinois agriculture and unique entertainment. 

The Illinois State Fair runs August 10-20. Admission is $10 for adults, $3 for senior citizens (60+), and free for kids (0-12). For daily schedules and lists of vendors, competitions, attractions, and the Grandstand lineup, check out the Illinois State Fair website or download a free mobile app.

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