Will Guzzardi

State Rep. Will Guzzardi midshot
Dusty Rhodes / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Graduate students who work as research assistants alongside university professors could win the right to go on strike. Current law excludes them from being counted as employees. But a proposal to change that (HB253​)   was approved by the Illinois House of Representatives last week.

Several Republican state representatives argued giving them that right would raise college costs. State Rep. Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego) argued the measure could eventually lead to higher tuition prices for undergraduates.

 

Daisy Contreras / NPR Illinois

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker recently signed into law an increase to the state’s minimum wage. But restaurant servers, bartenders and other workers who depend on tips, say it’s not a full victory. 

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Stores in Illinois keep a portion of what you pay in sales tax. Think of it like a collection fee, though in state government shorthand it’s called a retail discount.

The amount is based on a percentage of what they collect. So the more they sell, the more they keep.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker wants to cap that amount to $1,000 per month for each retailer. It’s one of several proposals aimed at addressing a $3.2 billion deficit in next year’s budget.

Daisy Contreras / NPR Illinois

The Illinois House approved a $15 minimum wage plan Thursday that now heads to the governor’s desk. But, some are still unhappy with the fast-track approach. 

Jaclyn Driscoll / NPR Illinois

Illinois is one step closer to having a $15 minimum wage, after the state Senate approved the legislation by a 39-18 vote Thursday.

Illinois House Democrats

Advocates of the so-called Illinois Human Rights Act "expansion bill" are urging Governor Bruce Rauner to sign that piece of legislation, which is currently on his desk. Otherwise, without his action, it would die by mid-August.

Rachel Otwell / NPR IllINOIS | 91.9 UIS

Illinois House members will soon consider a measure that clarifies whether graduate research assistants have the right to unionize.  But, Wednesday's Human Services committee hearing took quite a detour. 

After a 12-day strike beginning in February, the University of Illinois and graduate student employees settled on a new contract that includes pay raises and tuition waiver protections. Now lawmakers want to clarify who is eligible for those benefits. 

arbyreed / Flickr- CC BY-SA 2.0

Makers of generic pharmaceuticals are pushing back against an attempt to regulate prices in the industry.

State Rep. Will Guzzardi midshot
Dusty Rhodes / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Let's say you've got a student loan and you get laid off your job. Your loan servicer suggests something called "forebearance" — the chance to delay payments for a year or two. Sounds tempting, but it ends up costing you more money.

That's one of the many tricky facts loan servicers will have to disclose in Illinois, where lawmakers yesterday approved stringent regulations on student loan service companies.

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Disparate entities say laws in this area need to change at the state and national levels.

Rep. Will Guzzardi
Dusty Rhodes / NPR Illinois

A state representative from Chicago is trying to bring the spirit of Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign to Illinois. His idea? Free tuition at Illinois’ public universities.

Amanda Vinicky / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Illinois won't financially support a wall on the Mexican border if some Democratic lawmakers can help it.

ilga.gov

Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign surged in part because of his tuition-free college platform. Now one of Sanders' backers -- State Representative Will Guzzardi -- is bringing that concept to Illinois.


Rep. Will Guzzardi
Dusty Rhodes / NPR Illinois

The Illinois House passed a measure Thursday to removes sales tax on feminine hygiene products sold in the state.

Senators Kimberly Lightford and William Delgado debate in the corridor of the statehouse
Dusty Rhodes / NPR Illinois

Should kids be allowed to skip standardized tests? In Illinois, children already have the right to refuse to take, for example, the PARCC test, associated with Common Core. Last year, the number of children who exercised that right amounted to 4.4 percent of eligible students statewide.

 

That may sound like an insignificant number, but consider this: The previous year, just one half of one percent of eligible students in Illinois opted out.

flickr/Roger Goun

Illinois representatives are debating how much freedom high school journalists should have to criticize their school district's administration.  But state educators and local school districts say they worry about being held responsible for what their schools publish.

Rep. Will Guzzardi
Dusty Rhodes / NPR Illinois

 A measure pending in the Illinois legislature would give parents the right to have their children skip the standardized test associated with the Common Core curriculum. The plan proposed by Democratic Representative Will Guzzardi, of Chicago would require schools to honor written requests from parents for their kids to skip the PARCC test. Currently, students themselves can refuse testing, if they're able and willing to ask, but Guzzardi says there’s no policy telling schools what to do with those kids.

ilga.gov

 

 

Parents and educators alike have been questioning the increasing number of standardized tests now required in public schools. A measure filed by Illinois State Representative Will Guzzardi would give moms and dads a way to allow their kid to skip these exams. 

 

“Seven other states have statutes allowing parents to opt out of their standardized testing,” Guzzardi says.  “Those states haven’t seen any sort of diminishment of their federal funding or anything like that, as some of the doom-and-gloom folks suggest might happen.”