Week-in-review: March 4-8

Before lawmakers returned to Springfield on March 5, members of the Senate Subcommittee on Capital met in Edwardsville to discuss capital and infrastructure needs throughout southern Illinois.

In other news, a number of controversial gun measures have been introduced in the General Assembly and the Illinois State Board of Education will begin implementing a shorter version of the highly-criticized PARCC exam to students throughout the state.

Senate Subcommittee continues hearings

The newly formed Senate Subcommittee on Capital met in Edwardsville during the week to hear testimony from colleges, universities, and local governments in the southern Illinois region about their capital and infrastructure needs.

The Subcommittee on Capital is comprised of members of the Senate’s Appropriations II and Transportation Committees and is tasked with understanding the needs around the state prior to drafting a potential capital improvement projects bill.

Illinois hasn’t had a capital bill in 10 years, which is concerning for state officials, transportation experts and higher education administrators, who say the state’s infrastructure has been rapidly deteriorating, causing concern for safety and economic prosperity.

In the coming weeks, the Subcommittee on Capital will continue touring the state and hosting these hearings in an effort to gain better insights into the state’s infrastructure problems. Edwardsville was just the second of six scheduled hearings. The first took place in Springfield on February 21.

Four other hearings have been scheduled:

March 18:  Decatur
April 8:  Peoria
April 16:  Chicago
April 22:  Elgin

Lawmakers take shots at Second Amendment rights

As spring session continues, a number of controversial gun-control measures have recently been filed for consideration in the Legislature.

Proposed measures include a ban on using ammunition containing lead when hunting wildlife, a mandate on the storage of firearms with penalties for violations, a requirement for FOID Card applicants to turn over a list of their social media accounts to authorities and a serial number requirement for all handgun ammunition.

Other measures carry extra costs for law-abiding gun owners, including a proposed tax on firearm ammunition and a 3.75 percent surcharge on firearms and firearm component parts.

Also being considered is a measure that would make it a felony to possess an “assault weapon” 300 days after the law goes into effect unless the assault weapon was owned before the law went into effect and is registered with the State Police. Another bill would ban licensed concealed carry holders from carrying in polling places, and a proposed measure would revoke the FOID cards of those who suffer and report losses or thefts of their firearms in three separate incidents within a two-year period.

Advocates of the Second Amendment contend that many of the proposed gun-control measures filed this year dangerously encroach on the constitutional rights of law-abiding gun owners. Rather than entertain overreaching and unconstitutional proposals, State Senator Dave Syverson is urging lawmakers to work together and focus on the fundamental causes of gun violence in Illinois.

To follow along with this legislation and other bills filed in the 101st General Assembly, visit ilga.gov.

Abridged standardized testing to take effect

Beginning in March, the Illinois State Board of Education will begin implementing the Illinois Assessment for Readiness (IAR) test to students across the state. The IAR will be taking the place of the highly-criticized Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) test implemented in 2015.

Critics of the PARCC exam cite duration, scoring errors, technical glitches, and delays in releasing scoring results among their criticisms. According to the Illinois State Board of Education, the IAR will be shorter than the PARCC test while still asking the same types of questions.

The test will be administered to third through eighth graders across the state.

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