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New fiscal year brings new state laws

CapitolSWJuly brings the beginning of a new fiscal year for the state, and several measures passed by the legislature and signed into law take effect on July 1.

Most notably, two new laws address Illinois education: one reaffirms the importance of learning cursive writing in Illinois schools and another addresses the statewide teacher shortage.

Cursive handwriting will remain a subject in Illinois public schools thanks to the Senate’s action in overriding a veto of a measure that requires public elementary schools to offer at least one unit of instruction in the subject. Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) led the initiative, House Bill 2997, noting it promotes the practical and fundamental values cursive writing has in education.

“Cursive writing is a skill children will need throughout their lives,” Lightford said. “You cannot write a check, sign legal documents or even read our Constitution without an understanding of cursive writing.”

Districts will determine by local policy at what grade levels this will be implemented as long as students receive the instruction by grade 5.

Rural and downstate school districts will have more tools to help overcome the challenges of a statewide teacher shortage under a new law that is based on input from central Illinois educators. The plan, sponsored by State Senator Andy Manar of Bunker Hill, is influenced by suggestions from teachers in and near Macoupin and Montgomery counties who met with Manar in the fall to discuss the problem and possible solutions.

Among other things, the measure slashes red tape to encourage educators outside of Illinois to apply for hard-to-fill jobs here, creates a short-term substitute teaching license and allows downstate retired teachers to substitute in classrooms without jeopardizing their retirement benefits.

“This is a smart plan that gets to the root of the teacher shortage problem in Illinois – too much red tape and unnecessary restrictions that deter good, quality educators from seeking jobs in our classrooms,” Manar said. “I want to thank the teachers who took the time to help me and other lawmakers understand the barriers and who contributed ideas that were incorporated into this law.”


Other laws effective July 1 - click on each bill number to read more:

HB 3514   Amends the Business corporation act of 1983, provides that filings with the Secretary of State by entities formed under the above Acts may not be deemed “expedited services” subject to certain fees solely because the filings were made electronically. (Connelly-R)

HB 2453  Requires the Department of Revenue to transfer funds directly from sales taxes into the Downstate Public Transportation Fund instead of first being deposited by the Comptroller into the General Revenue Fund. (Hutchinson-D)

SB 312 Requires any entity selling "catfish" products to disclose on the packaging, menu or wherever applicable the fish's country of origin. The concern is food establishments offering swai fish (Pangasiidae family) as catfish (Ictaluridae family), without informing customers. (Jones-D)

SB 1223 Requires school districts to have an accelerated placement policy that allows students to be referred and evaluate for possible early entrance to kindergarten or 1st grade, acceleration in a single subject, compacted curriculum, grade acceleration, grade telescoping, or early high school graduation. (Lightford-D)

HB 303 Reforms the civil asset forfeiture process; it places the burden of proof in forfeiture cases on the prosecution, instead of the property owner. (Harmon-D)

HB 2963 Creates the Entity Omnibus Act, which takes the conversion and domestication processes out of various acts affecting business entities. (Harmon-D)

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