500+ bills await Pritzker decision in next 3 months
By JERRY NOWICKI
Capitol News Illinois
SPRINGFIELD -- Illinois lawmakers passed 566 bills through both chambers of the General Assembly in the recently concluded legislative session -- all but one of them in May.
That sets the table for an approximate three-month bill-signing season for Gov. J.B. Pritzker. That's because the state's Constitution gives legislative leaders 30 days from a bill's passage to send it to the governor, who then has 60 days to sign or veto it.
If the governor takes no action in that time frame, the bill would become law automatically. Historically, the legislature has sent bills to the governor in batches, allowing his staff ample time to review the proposals.
Below are some of the bills that Pritzker will consider signing in the coming months.
Noncitizen licenses: A measure backed by Democratic Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias would allow residents of Illinois to obtain a standard driver's license, rather than the "temporary visitor driver's license" that is currently allowed under law. An applicant would be required to show their U.S. immigration documentation or, if they don't have that, a passport or consular card. They would also have to prove they have car insurance.
A standard license can be used as identification, whereas a temporary license cannot. Advocates said that has made tasks such as buying alcohol or picking up a prescription challenging for many temporary license holders. Under House Bill 3882, noncitizens would still be ineligible to receive a federal Real ID certified license.
According to the secretary of state's office, more than 300,000 people currently have a temporary license. Those would still be valid until their expiration date, but the state would not issue any new ones.
It passed the House 67-35 and the Senate 33-18.
Noncitizen law enforcement: House Bill 3751 provides that noncitizens can become law enforcement officers in Illinois if they're authorized by federal law to work in the country or if action on their immigration status has been deferred under the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals process.
Those individuals must meet all other state qualifications for being in law enforcement and must be authorized to possess a firearm under federal law.
The measure passed 37-20 in the Senate and 100-7 in the House.
License plate readers: Another measure backed by Giannoulias would prohibit any "user" of an automated license plate reader from sharing data collected by the device with out-of-state law enforcement officers who are investigating activities related to abortion care or someone's immigration status.
Prior to sharing any data, a plate-reader user -- which includes law-enforcement agencies and other entities if they share the data with law enforcement -- would first need a written declaration that the law enforcement agency would not use the data contrary to the bill's language. If no such declaration exists, the user would be prohibited from sharing the data.
House Bill 3326 passed 39-15 in the Senate and 69-34 in the House.
Native American repatriation: House Bill 3413 would streamline the process through which Illinois returns Native American remains and materials to their communities. In part, it would create a procedure in which the Illinois Department of Natural Resources would consult with affiliated tribal nations when returning remains.
The measure was spurred by reporting from ProPublica which showed the Illinois State Museum has the second-largest collection of unrepatriated Native American remains in the U.S. As of 2022, the state museum had only returned 2 percent of the 7,700 remains it reported to the U.S. government.
HB 3413 allows IDNR to establish burial sites for Native American human remains and other artifacts that are closed to the public and protected by the state.
Additionally, it creates a fund in the state treasury that would be paid into by violators of the act and subject to appropriation to cover costs including reinterment, repatriation, repair or restoration of human remains.
It passed both houses unanimously. One lawmaker voted "present" in the House.
Probation drug testing: Senate Bill 1886 would limit the circumstances under which a judge could order a person to refrain from cannabis and alcohol use and submit to testing while on probation. A judge could still mandate testing if the person is under 21 or was sentenced for an offense that included use of an "intoxicating compound."
Testing could also still be required if the person is in problem-solving court or if the person has undergone a clinical assessment that includes alcohol or cannabis testing. Courts could also still require a person to abstain from cannabis and alcohol for 30 days between sentencing and the person's participation in a clinical assessment.
The measure would also prohibit a court from banning cannabis use if it is prescribed by a medical professional and from assessing fees for mandatory drug or alcohol testing if the person is indigent as defined in state law.
It passed 75-40 in the House and 31-18 in the Senate.
Hotel worker protections: House Bill 2220 would give hotel managers greater authority to remove disruptive visitors from their premises. That includes individuals who refuse to pay, threaten employees, violate laws or posted hotel rules, or use "verbally abusive language."
The hotel industry pushed for the changes, which also state the removed guest must be refunded for unused portions of their stay. It also states the language can't be used to evict long-term residents or if the area is under a severe weather warning. It also may not be used to discriminate against a guest based on characteristics protected under federal, state or local law.
Hotel managers would be allowed to refuse accommodation to anyone who destroys or threatens to destroy hotel property or who is on the premises for the purpose of providing alcohol to an underage person or possessing a controlled substance.
It passed 108-3 in the House and 51-2 in the Senate.
Full-day kindergarten: House Bill 2396 would require Illinois elementary and unit public school districts to offer full-day kindergarten by the 2027-2028 school year. After that time, offering half-day kindergarten would be optional. Some districts would be able to apply for a two-year waiver based on their level of state funding.
The measure would also create a task force to study the number of districts offering kindergarten, the number of students enrolled and several other factors. The task force is to be named by October, with an interim report due to lawmakers by June 30, 2024, and a final report by Jan. 31, 2025.
It passed 52-1 in the Senate and 85-24 in the House.
Flag commission: Senate Bill 1818 -- numbered for the year Illinois entered the union -- would create a commission to consider new state flag designs and make recommendations to the General Assembly as to whether the current flag should be replaced.
Members would be appointed by the governor and legislative leaders of both parties, as well as the secretary of state, the state board of education and the state museum. They would be unpaid other than a per diem reimbursement.
The commission would set "guiding principles" for a new flag, raise awareness for the effort and create a submission process for new designs. By Sept. 1, 2024, they would select 10 of those designs, and by Dec. 3, 2024, they would report to lawmakers with their recommendations.
It passed 39-16 in the Senate and 72-40 in the House.
Teacher licensure: Senate Bill 1488 will temporarily suspend and create a task force to review one of the tests prospective teachers must pass to be licensed in Illinois. The test is known as the Teacher Performance Assessment, which would be suspended through Aug. 31, 2025, under the measure.
The assessment that requires applicants to submit a portfolio including lesson plans and tests they've administered while student teaching, along with examples of student work and other material. The portfolios are scored by outside teachers and teacher educators. It has been a requirement in Illinois since 2015 but was temporarily stalled by Pritzker's executive orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic, which expired May 11.
SB 1488 would also establish a task force to evaluate teacher performance assessment systems and make recommendations to the State Board of Education and the General Assembly by Aug. 1, 2024.
It passed the House 84-19 and the Senate 55-2.
School district cash reserves: Senate Bill 1994, which passed both chambers unanimously, would require school districts to report their annual cash reserves and average three-year operating expenditures to the state. When reserves exceed 2.5 times the average three-year expenditures, the school district would be required to file a plan to the state board detailing how they plan to spend reserves down to 2.5 times their average expenditures or less.
Districts would not be required to spend reserves, but only to submit the plan detailing how they intend to do so over three years.
Editor's note: Capitol News Illinois reporters Peter Hancock and Nika Schoonover contributed to this report.