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Masks JBP

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced June 10 that Illinois will move to a full reopening on June 11, but mask mandates and social distancing will remain a mainstay in Illinois schools.

Pritzker said it is critical that schools and day cares use and layer prevention strategies. The two most important ones are universal and correct use of masks, and physical distancing, which he said should be maximized to the greatest extent possible.

Pritzker has enforced COVID-19 mandates by issuing 18 disaster proclamations, a practice that is now under fire from some state lawmakers.

“We are operating and moving down a dangerous path if we allow governors either today or in the future to declare emergency declarations as long as they want without input from the General Assembly,” state Rep. Dan Ugaste, R-St. Charles, said.

Ugaste has House Bill 843 that would amend the Illinois Emergency Management Agency Act to require the governor to get legislative approval of consecutive disaster proclamations.

State lawmakers are also examining other COVID-19 fallout, including failings by the Illinois Department of Employment Security and their offices remaining closed, millions spent on hospital leases that were rarely or never used, and the severe backlog of Firearm Owners’ Identifications that doubled in the past 18 months.

Read more here.

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SAPS

After nearly 17,000 Illinois parents opposed a bill to impose state health mandates on private schools, and state lawmakers let the effort sit, it seemed the fight was over. Not quite. A teachers union lead lobbyist pledged to keep pursuing it. (Photo courtesy St. Anne Parish School)

Nearly 17,000 Illinoisans made it clear they did not want over-reaching state health rules governing their private and public schools, and state lawmakers appeared to listen as they left the union-backed House Bill 2789 on hold as they adjourned.

Now a top teacher union lobbyist is promising the bill created by the Illinois Education Association will return as a priority.

“Unfortunately, due to a very, very well coordinated misinformation campaign, House Bill 2789 did in fact stall,” Sean Denny, IEA director of government relations, said in a video. “However, I want to assure everyone that we are going to continue pushing that issue. We’re going to continue pushing it during veto session in November and December.”

The bill would require the Illinois Department of Public Health to set rules for in-person instruction at public as well as at private schools. State rules would govern masks, cleaning, occupancy, social distancing and handling of positive cases. It would give the state the power to shut down private as well as public schools, taking away the local health department control used during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Private schools were able to safely keep students in classrooms during the pandemic while many teachers unions fought to keep public schools closed. Opponents saw HB 2789 as a power play by public unions and as punishment for schools that had served parents and students well through a global pandemic. Plus, the proposed rules defied direct guidance from federal health officials who said young students rarely transmitted the virus when proper protocols were in place.

“The end result of this language is that private schools could have any of their facilities shut down by state authorities,” said state Sen. Donald DeWitte, R-West Dundee. “My private schools had a stellar record, many even stayed open. I’d hate to compare that record with the public schools – many of whom told me they had no guidance at all.”

Read more from Illinois Policy here.

Related:St. Anne Parish School in Barrington welcomes students back to their classrooms,” “Temperature scans, symptom checks welcome Saint Viator students back to school

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Jobs

Illinois’ jobs recovery from COVID-19 is among the slowest in the nation, so common sense should tell state lawmakers to avoid policies that could make the state’s economic outlook worse.

Yet a proposed constitutional amendment would take Illinois a step backward. If enacted and passed by ballot measure, Senate Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 11 would incorporate a ban on right-to-work laws directly in the state’s constitution. The proposed amendment passed the Illinois Senate on May 21. If approved by the Illinois House of Representatives, it will appear on the November 2022 ballot.

Instead of focusing on fixing Illinois’ economic woes, politicians are kowtowing to labor interest groups, abusing the purpose of the state constitution, cluttering it with policy preferences and placing Illinois at odds with the more pro-growth policies of the majority of states.

In areas with a right-to-work law, workers in the private sector have the right to form unions, but nonmembers cannot be required to pay fees to a union in order to keep their jobs. Right to work already exists for workers in the public sector following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Janus v. AFSCME.

From a legal perspective, the state constitution is the wrong place to wage a battle over economic policy.

Constitutions exist to establish the structure of government and, importantly, to protect people from the government – not to force one particular interest group’s policy preferences on the public at large. If lawmakers move forward with this legislation, Illinois could become the only state in the nation banning right-to-work laws in its state constitution. The amendment would tie the hands of future lawmakers should subsequent events make them want to reconsider the policy.

Read more of the Illinois Policy perspective here.

Related:Unionization amendment clears Senate, would prohibit ‘right-to-work’ laws in Illinois

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BR

Union supporters rally in Springfield against then-Gov. Bruce Rauner’s calls to change collective bargaining policies. (Associated Press/May 18, 2016)

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Senate on Friday passed and sent to the House a proposed constitutional amendment that would establish a fundamental right of employees to unionize and engage in collective bargaining.

Sen. Ram Villivalam, D-Chicago, lead sponsor of the measure in the Senate, said the amendment is a response to the relatively stagnant wages most workers have seen since the 1970s when union membership nationally began to decline.

“The falling rate of unionization has lowered wages, not only because some workers no longer received the higher union wage, but also because there is less pressure on nonunion employers to raise wages,” he said. “The ability of unions to set labor standards has declined.”

The proposed amendment would add a section to the Illinois Constitution’s Bill of Rights stating, “Employees shall have the fundamental right to organize and to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing for the purpose of negotiating wages, hours, and working conditions, and to protect their economic welfare and safety at work.”

It would go on to say that no laws could be passed that diminish workers’ rights to organize, including any state law or local ordinance “that prohibits the execution or application of agreements between employers and labor organizations that represent employees requiring membership in an organization as a condition of employment.”

That is a reference to so-called “right-to-work” laws that began proliferating in the post-World War II era that prohibit any agreements requiring union membership as a condition of employment.

Currently, 28 states have some form of right-to-work laws or constitutional amendments on the books, according to the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, including the neighboring states of Indiana, Kentucky, Iowa and Wisconsin.

Read more from Capitol News Illinois here.

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