Illinois Insights: An Update from Cozen O’Connor (4/27)

April 27, 2022

Public Health

Illinois

Pritzker signs package of bills aimed at addressing teacher shortage

Gov. JB Pritzker this week signed into law a handful of bills aimed at addressing the state’s teacher shortage.

  • House Bill 4246: State law currently requires educators to pay a $500 penalty to immediately reinstate a lapsed license. Under House Bill 4246, fees for renewing lapsed educator license will be reduced to $50. The law is effective immediately.
  • House Bill 4798: Under current law, substitute teaching candidates must hold a bachelor’s degree or higher. House Bill 4798 allows currently enrolled teaching students to obtain additional classroom training by giving them the option to obtain a substitute teaching license if they have completed 90 credit hours. The law is effective January 1, 2023.
  • Senate Bill 3988: Currently, the minimum age requirement is 19 for paraprofessional educators who work with students from pre-K to eighth grade. Senate Bill 3988 lowers this age requirement to 18, providing prospective educators with the chance to start a career earlier. The law is effective January 1, 2023.
  • Senate Bill 3907: In the event of a disaster declaration, short term substitute teachers are only able to spend 5 consecutive days in the same classroom. Under Senate Bill 3907, this number is increased to 15. The law is effective immediately.

Around the State


Chicago

City Council approves $12.5 million gas, transit card giveaway; ethics chair unveils package of reforms

The Chicago City Council today approved Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s $12.5 million gas and transit card giveaway; the appointment of Deborah Witzburg as the city’s new inspector general; and an ordinance to crack down on sexual harassment.

  • Aldermen voted 26-23 to approve Lightfoot’s ordinance (O2022-949) to set aside $12.5 million from the city’s general Corporate Fund to pay for 50,000 prepaid gas cards worth $150 each, as well as 100,000 Ventra cards pre-loaded with $50 in transit fare. The cards would be distributed in waves during the course of the summer.
  • Aldermen approved another ordinance (O2022-665) from Lightfoot to expand protections for individuals who report sexual harassment and increase penalties for those who perpetrate workplace misconduct. Among other provisions, the ordinance directs employers to develop and post public notices of policies prohibiting sexual harassment in the workplace; requires employees to undergo certain bystander intervention training programs; and increases the statute of limitations for people to report sexual harassment from 300 days to 365 days.
  • Additionally, aldermen approved the appointment (A2022-58) of former Chicago Deputy Inspector General for Public Safety Deborah Witzburg as the city’s next Inspector General, ending a five-month vacancy in a top city post. Witzburg previously worked as a legal adviser to former Inspector General Joseph Ferguson from 2016 to 2020 before being appointed deputy inspector general for public safety, overseeing the city’s police reforms.

In addition to these new local laws, ethics and Government Oversight Committee Chair Michele Smith (43) unveiled a new proposal (O2022-1100) to “significantly strengthen” Chicago’s ethics code.

The ordinance, which is backed by the Chicago Board of Ethics, seeks to implement the following reforms:

  • Increases maximum fines for violations from $5,000 to $20,000
  • Adds “City Council contractor” to the list of positions required to a) undergo sexual harassment training and b) produce statements of financial interest
  • Prohibits former aldermen from lobbying on the City Council floor or committee room
  • Expands the number of companies doing business with the city that would be limited to contributing $1,500 to any one candidate per year to include subcontractors earning more than $10,000 within 12 months, as well as those doing business with city-adjacent agencies like Chicago Public schools, the Chicago Housing Authority, and the Chicago Public Building Commission

A more comprehensive summary of the ordinance, which has been referred to the Ethics Committee for further consideration, is available here.

More From City Hall


Federal

Cozen Currents: Biden’s Conflicting Priorities

  • President Biden campaigned on a would have-been $2 trillion historic climate agenda that in his first year in the Oval Office shrunk in the face of collisions with other priorities and political realities, most notably, of course, rampant inflation.
  • Illustrating the political challenges President Biden faces, while he sought to frame himself as the most pro-labor president ever, his efforts to achieve this have run up against labor and supply chain realities.
  • The late Senate Finance Committee Chair Russell Long said, “A tax loophole is something that benefits the other guy. If it benefits you, it is tax reform.” Democratic tax policy today is a mishmash of loopholes and reforms where the party is both looking to tax and help the same companies and individuals.

Read the full briefing here.

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