Hundreds of new laws take effect Jan. 1 in Illinois

Iesha Townsend, an advocate for a $15 minimum wage who works as a cashier at a McDonald's in Chicago, addresses a crowd at the Governor's Mansion on Feb. 19 before Gov. J.B. Pritzker's signing of Senate Bill 1. (Capitol News Illinois photo by Jerry Nowicki)

SPRINGFIELD – After decades of discussions about legalizing recreational marijuana, in 2020 Illinois becomes one of 11 states where marijuana is legal for use by adults over the age of 21. The new law (P.A. 101-0027), which takes effect on Jan. 1, is just one of over 255 new laws to hit the books this year. Everything from a minimum wage increase to vehicle licensing fees and baby changing tables in restrooms has been addressed.

Below is a small sampling of the new laws, by category, that will take effect Jan. 1.

  • Agriculture, Animals and Hunting

License Plates on Farm Equipment (HB 2669/PA 101-0481): Removes current law requiring registration of specific farm trailers having a fertilizer spreader attachment and farm tank trailers. Removes the $250 registration fee and width and weight restrictions for single unit self-propelled ag fertilizer implements.

Soil and Water Conservation Districts (HB 2737/PA 101-0484): Soil and Water Conservation Districts must now include conservation of soil health, organic matter in soil and plants, and water quality and improvement of resilience to droughts, floods and other extreme weather. Adds incorporation of perennial plants to conservation plans.

Rabies Vaccines for Cats (SB 131/PA 101-0299): All cats four months or older must have a rabies shot and get a subsequent shot within a year of the first one (excludes feral cats).

  • Business, Commerce, Regulation, Labor and Licensure

Recreational Marijuana (PA 101-0027): With the legalization of adult-use marijuana in the state, Illinois residents over age 21 will be allowed to possess 30 grams of cannabis flower, 500 milligrams of a marijuana-infused product and five grams of cannabis concentrate. Non-residents can possess half those amounts. Marijuana use will be banned in public places, in vehicles, and outdoors, however, licensed marijuana facilities may obtain local government clearance to allow use at their facilities.

Minimum Wage Increase (SB 1919/PA 101-0437): The minimum wage in Illinois will go up to $9.25 on Jan. 1, a $1 increase.

Manufacturing Training Grant Program (SB 1919/PA 101-0437): Requires the Illinois Community College Board to administer a manufacturing training grant program. Gives priority to a public high school and community college district having a formal agreement. Requires a private-public partnership clause that requires a business to pay up to 40 percent of the project.

Gratuities (HB 3405/PA 101-0509): Tips may not be kept by employers and must be given to employees within 13 days after they were earned.

Use of Arrest Record (SB 1780/PA 101-0565): Employers may not inquire or use an arrest record as a basis for an employment decision. The law also states that using arrest records to refuse or alter terms of a real estate transaction is a civil rights violation.

  • Children and Families, Guardianship and Estate Issues

Baby Changing Stations in Public Buildings (HB 3711/PA 101-0293): Buildings with restrooms open to the public must have at least one safe, sanitary baby diaper changing station in a restroom for women and in a men’s restroom or in a gender neutral restroom with signs at the restroom door indicating its location.

Pregnancy and Childbirth Rights (HB 2/PA 101- 0445): Regarding pregnancy and childbirth, women have the right to receive care consistent with scientific evidence about benefits and risks, choice of a birth setting, respectful treatment by health care professionals, who must be culturally competent and treat women appropriately regardless of the woman’s ethnicity, sexual orientation, or religious background. These rights must be posted on websites of Illinois departments of Public Health, Healthcare and Family Services, Children and Family Services, and Human Services.

Reporting of Child Abuse or Neglect in Hospitals (HB 831/PA 101-0043): Department of Children and Family Services must notify the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services of all reports involving children alleged to have been abused or neglected while hospitalized, including while hospitalized in freestanding psychiatric hospitals, as necessary for the Illinois Department of Public Health to conduct its licensing investigation.

Child Abuse Reporting (SB 1239/PA 101-0583): Any report received by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services alleging abuse or neglect of a child by a person not the child’s parent, immediate family, a person responsible for the child’s welfare, a person living in the same home of the child or a paramour of the child’s parent must be immediately referred to the appropriate local enforcement agency.

  • Consumers

Genetic Testing Privacy (HB 2189/PA 101- 0132): Direct-to-consumer commercial genetic testing is now included in the definition of “genetic testing.” A company providing such genetic testing may not share any genetic test information or other personally identifiable information about a consumer with a health or life insurance company without written consent from the consumer.

Notice of Foreclosure (SB 1134/PA 101-0539): In a foreclosure, the plaintiff must file an affidavit with the court if the defendant is unavailable to be served papers, publish notice in a newspaper, and the clerk of court must send a copy of the published notice to each defendant listed in the case.

Ban on Animal-Tested Cosmetics (SB 0241/PA 101-0303): All cosmetics that have been tested on animals are banned in Illinois. Manufacturers may not sell cosmetics that used animal testing with fines starting at $5,000. Applies to all products manufactured on or after Jan. 1, 2020.

  • Crime, Courts, Corrections and Law Enforcement

Expressway Camera Act (HB 331/PA 101-0042): The number of cameras along expressways in Cook County will increase. Images from expressway cameras may be used by municipal police, county sheriffs, State Police or other law enforcement agencies with jurisdiction in the investigation of any offense involving the use of a firearm.

Cloud Computing (HB 2133/PA 101-0087): Expands the definition of computer in the Criminal Code to include information or data stored or hosted in a cloud-based network.

Bail No-Contact Provision (HB 2308/PA 101- 0138): Allows a no-contact provision to prohibit incarcerated defendants from contacting victims or witnesses from jail while awaiting trial.

Name Change after Divorce (SB 1191/PA 101- 0203): Anyone who wants to change their name after a divorce no longer has to file a petition or provide notice by publication of the changed name.

Crimes in Places of Worship (HB 38/PA 101- 0223): Creates aggravating factors in sentencing or increases penalties for certain crimes against people engaged in prayer or religious activities at a place used for religious worship.

Sex Offense Statute of Limitations (HB 2135/PA 101-0130): There is no longer a statute of limitations for criminal sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual assault or aggravated criminal sexual abuse, regardless of the age of the victim.

Mental Health Police Training (HB 2767/PA 101-0215): The curriculum for police training schools must include recognizing signs and symptoms of work-related cumulative stress, issues that may lead to suicide, and solutions for intervention with peer support resources. Also adds signs of stress and suicide to basic police training and adds officer wellness to in-service training requirements.

Mental Health Exam for School Threats (HB 1579/PA 101-0238): A minor who makes threats of harm, violence, death or destruction toward a school or persons at the school, may be ordered by the court to have a mental health evaluation prior to sentencing for disorderly conduct. Anyone convicted of a false bomb, explosive, poison gas, deadly biological or chemical contaminant, or radioactive substance threat must reimburse the public agency for the costs of emergency response.

Jury Selection Discrimination (SB 1378/PA 101- 0327): Prohibits an otherwise qualified juror from being excluded from jury service based on sexual orientation.

Removal of Private Compromising Images Act (HB 2408/PA 101-0385): Posting of private compromising images of another person online is prohibited and individuals can obtain a “take-down” order to have such images removed online. Anyone found to have posted such images of another person online will be liable for damages in an amount determined by the court.

  • Education (PreK-12)

School Board Vacancy Timeline Threshold (HB 2802/PA 101-0067): When a school board vacancy occurs, if the board fails to fill the vacancy within 60 days, the regional superintendent of schools will do so.

School Report Card (HB 2822/PA 101-0068): School report cards will include percentage of students who participated in workplace learning experiences and whether the school offered career and technical opportunities.

Professional Development Inclusive Practices (HB 355/PA 101-0085): Adds training on inclusive practices that examine instructional and behavioral strategies that improve academic and social-emotional outcomes for all students, with or without disabilities, in a general education setting.

Illinois History (SB 1601/PA 101-0341): Beginning with the 2020-21 school year, the history of Illinois must be included in the history curriculum.

Medical Cannabis Administration in Schools (SB 455/PA 101-0370): All schools must allow a school nurse or administrator to administer medical cannabis to students while on school premises or self-administration under direct supervision of a school nurse or administrator. Students must be registered as qualifying patients. Requires parent/guardian written authorization as well as directives for storage and annual training for school personnel who administer the medication.

Age-Appropriate Sexual Harassment Policy (SB 1798/PA 101-0418): School districts must create, implement and maintain an age appropriate sexual harassment policy, post it on their website and include it in the student handbook.

School Bus Driver Application (HB 2121/PA 101-0458): Includes additional violent crime and sex offenses that disqualify a person from applying to be a school bus driver and removes a lifetime ban on becoming a school bus driver for those who have not been convicted of a specified cannabis misdemeanor within the last 20 years.

  • Environment, Conservation and Natural Resources

Native Prairie and Forage Preference (HB 3092/PA 101-0076): Every state agency charged with planting must give preference to native prairie and forage plants to benefit pollinators, including honey bees and monarch butterflies.

Microplastics Report (SB 1392/PA 101-0330): The Prairie Research Institute (PRI) will review scientific literature, laws and rules to identify the threat of microplastics to health and the environment, subject to appropriation. A report of the findings with recommendations for actions the State can take will be submitted to the Illinois General Assembly within three months after completion of the review.

Clean Water Workforce Pipeline (SB 2146/PA 101-0576): The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity will create a Clean Water Workforce Pipeline Program to provide grants and financial assistance to prepare people for careers in water infrastructure. Creates a Water Workforce Development Fund that is not subject to sweeps.

  • Health and Human Services

Child Epinephrine Injector Coverage (HB 3435/PA 101-0281): Insurance coverage must include children’s epinephrine injectors when medically necessary.

Health Education Curriculum Mandate (SB 459/PA 101-0305): Mental health and illness instruction must be offered in health class and include the relationship between physical and mental health.

Mental Health In-Service Training (SB 1731/PA 101-0350): School districts may use the Illinois Mental Health First Aid training program to provide required biennial in-service mental health training for teachers and administrators.

Mammogram Dense Tissue (SB 1506/PA 101- 0555): Mammography providers are required to notify patients if their mammogram indicates the presence of dense breast tissue.

  • Higher Education

Public University Admission Pilot Program (HB 26/PA 101-0448): The top 10 percent of graduating high school seniors in Illinois will be automatically admitted to four state universities (Northern, Southern, Eastern and Western). The pilot program will begin with the 2020-21 academic year.

  • Insurance

Skin Cancer Screening Mandate (HB 3113/PA 101-0500): Insurance must provide coverage for an annual office visit for a whole body skin cancer screening.

Diagnostic Mammography Mandate (SB 162/PA 101-0580): Insurance must cover diagnostic mammograms.

  • State Government

Personal Information Protection (SB 1624/PA 101-0343): Data breaches impacting more than 500 Illinois residents from a single breach must be reported to the Attorney General as quickly as possible. The Attorney General must report on all data breaches by Feb. 1 of each year.

  • Transportation, Infrastructure and Vehicular Regulation/Safety

License and Title Fees (SB 1919/PA 101-0437): An increase in title and license plate registration fees, $50 for most cars and $100 for trucks, semis, and farm vehicles, takes effect. Electric vehicle owners will be hit hardest with license plate fees going up by $216 in the new year.

The fees were raised to help pay for the state’s latest $45 billion capital plan that will fix roads and bridges over the next six years and also help fund other transportation projects. Policymakers are no longer able to spend money from driving fees on anything but transportation. Illinois voters passed a Lockbox Amendment in 2016 that requires any transportation fee to go directly to transportation-related projects and costs.

Passing Stopped School Bus Fine (HB 1873/PA 101-0055): The fine for passing a stopped school bus with stop arm displayed will now be $300 for the first offense and from $500 to $1,000 for the second or subsequent offense.

Construction Zone Penalty (SB 1496/PA 101- 0172): The fine for failing to reduce speed and make a lane change when possible when approaching a construction zone increases from $10,000 to $25,000.

Zipper Merge Method (SB 2038/PA 101-0174): The Rules of the Road guide must include use of the zipper merge method and at least one question on the written driving test must refer to Scott’s Law.

Streaming Video While Driving Ban (SB 86/PA 101-0297): Watching or streaming video is added to the current ban on cell phone use while driving.

Gender Designations on Driver’s License (HB 3534/PA 101- 0513): People may choose “non-binary” as their gender on future driver’s licenses and identification cards.

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