Politics & Government

Smoking age, teacher pay could be on the table when lawmakers return to work this week

Illinois 2018 veto session

The Illinois General Assembly is back in Springfield for its annual veto session. The legislators are scheduled to in Springfield from Nov. 13-15 and Nov. 27-29, where they may override vetoes by Governor Bruce Rauner.
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The Illinois General Assembly is back in Springfield for its annual veto session. The legislators are scheduled to in Springfield from Nov. 13-15 and Nov. 27-29, where they may override vetoes by Governor Bruce Rauner.

A week after the elections swept in a new Democratic super-majority in the House, the outgoing General Assembly returns to Springfield to consider whether to override the vetoes of outgoing Republican Governor Bruce Rauner.

Among the issues legislators could consider during the session is whether to increase the minimum annual compensation for public school teachers in the state to $40,000.

A plan passed by legislators, and vetoed by Rauner, called for gradually increasing teacher pay to $40,000 by 2022-23. The statutory minimum pay for teachers was set in 1980 and is $9,000.

The legislation is meant to help the state attract teachers and compete with neighboring states.

There had been concerns that the higher minimum pay would lead to higher costs for school districts who are not on pace to meet the minimum pay threshold.

Legislators may also reconsider raising the minimum age to buy tobacco from 18 years old to 21 years old. The legislation passed in May but not with a veto-proof majority, according to GateHouse Media, Rauner vetoed the bill in August and said it would not prevent teenagers from getting tobacco products if they really wanted to.

Another bill legislators could consider is whether local election authorities and county jails have to provide vote-by-mail opportunities for eligible people who are being detained in jail. The legislation also calls for jails to provide voter registration applications to people as they are released from jail, if they are eligible. Governor Rauner issued an amendatory veto on the bill, which was filed by Lieutenant Governor-elect Juliana Stratton.

Rauner also recommended adjustments to a bill passed by legislature that would prohibit employers from asking for a wage history from prospective employee, according to Bloomberg News.

The legislation has been pushed during the last two years as a way of eliminating pay gap between men and women.

Rauner lost his re-election bid last week when he was defeated by Chicago businessman J.B. Pritzker.

The question remains as to how much the Democratically-controlled legislature would take up during this month’s sessions. The legislature could wait until January to push some vetoed bills again when it will have a super-majority as well as a Democratic governor in place.

Pritzker in an interview the day after the election, said he and his team would watch the activity during veto-session.

“We’ll be looking at all that,” Pritzker said. “As we move forward with our transition we’ll certainly make announcements, and see what it is we should be involved in.”

Joseph Bustos: 618-239-2451; @JoeBReporter
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