State House News: Illinois legislators explore creation of Open Access to Research Task Force

Photo of the word "research" circled in the dictionaryIn Springfield …

Both the House and the Senate are in session this week in Springfield. Several bills of interest to the NIU community advanced in the legislative process during last week’s Senate action.

SB 1900 (Biss) passed the Senate unanimously and has been assigned to the House Higher Education Committee for consideration.

It requires that, by Jan. 1, 2014, each Illinois public university must establish an Open Access to Research Task Force, appointed by the chair and approved by the Board of Trustees of each university.

Each task force must be comprised of voting and non-voting members. The voting members include representatives of the university’s library, faculty (and faculty labor organization, if applicable) and university administration; non-voting members include representatives of publishers who publish scholarly journals.

The task force is charged with:

  • considering how the public university can best further the open access goals laid out in this act, whether by creation of an open access policy for the public university, creation of an open access policy for the state, or some other mechanism;
  • reviewing how peer institutions and the federal government are addressing issues related to open access and ensuring that any institutional or statewide policies are consistent with steps taken by the federal grant-making agencies; and
  • considering academic, legal, ethical, and fiscal ramifications of and questions regarding an open access policy.

The task force must issue a report with findings and recommendations by Jan. 1, 2015, and the Illinois Board of Higher Education must publish a list indicating which public universities have submitted their required reports.

SB 2202 (Link) establishing the Smoke-Free Campus Act, failed to garner enough votes in the Senate to move forward. The legislation has been placed on ‘postponed consideration’ status, meaning it can be considered again in the near future. The legislation currently is drafted that beginning Jan. 1, 2014, smoking would be prohibited on each campus of a state-supported institution of higher education.

On or before Dec. 31, 2013, each such institution would be required to establish a community task force to help coordinate the implementation of this act with the community and campus leaders. It will be the responsibility of the Board of Trustees of each institution to promulgate all polices and regulations needed, including disciplinary action, fines and an appeals process.

Photo of hammer about to break nervous piggy bankSB 2105 (Althoff) passed the Senate on a vote of 53-1. This bill requires the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget to publish the entire state budget online within 30 days of enactment. It would also require the publishing of each fund sweep or administrative charge-back required to implement the budget. This bill is one in a series of bills designed to improve transparency in state budgeting. The chief House sponsor is Rep. Ron Sandack, and the bill currently is in the House Rules Committee.

SB 2106 (Althoff) passed unanimously out of the Senate. It creates the Governmental Transparency Task force, a 16-member board made up of appointments by the Governor and legislative leaders, which would report on plans to make the state budget process more transparent. The task force is required to report its findings by Jan. 1, 2015. Sandack is the chief House sponsor, and the bill has been assigned to the House State Government Administration Committee.

SB 2381 (Radogno) creating the Grant Information Collection Act, passed the Senate unanimously. It amends the Illinois Transparency and Accountability Portal (ITAP) to give the public greater access to information about state grants and how grant monies are distributed and used.

It requires Illinois’ chief information officer to work with state agencies to better report financial data. All state grants would have to be posted online, including the name and ZIP code of the organization receiving the grant, a short description of the purpose of the grant, as well as the amount and the date of the award. Sandack is the chief House sponsor, and the bill has been assigned to the House Rules Committee.

With five weeks remaining until the scheduled adjournment date, many major issues have yet to be resolved.

Pension reform remains a key priority, and Steve Cunningham continues to represent the public university presidents and chancellors on this issue. Concealed carry also needs to be resolved before the court-mandated deadline of Sunday, June 9; Jerry Blakemore continues to represent the public university leaders on this issue.

Other important issues include FY 2014 appropriations, procurement reform and possible gaming expansion.

The Voices section of NIU Today features opinions and perspectives from across campus. Lori Clark is director of State and Federal Relations for NIU.

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