By SARAH MANSUR
Capitol News Illinois
SPRINGFIELD – When a new year begins in Illinois, there typically are dozens if not hundreds of new laws going into effect.
Not this year. Like so many other things in 2020, the legislative spring session was stunted by COVID-19. Once the global pandemic reached Illinois in March, the General Assembly would meet for only four more days — wrapping up the odd session during masked and socially distanced gatherings at the Capitol and Bank of Springfield Center. The fall veto session was scrapped altogether.
As a result, only three new laws will take effect on Jan. 1, 2021. Here’s a look at them, as well as the next increase in the minimum wage.
Insulin costs cap
Senate Bill 667 (Public Act 101-0625) amends the Illinois Insurance Code to cap out-of-pocket insulin costs at $100 per month for all patients using a state regulated insurance plan, regardless of the amount of insulin or type of covered prescription insulin drug used to fill the insured patient’s prescription.
Roughly 1.3 million adults in Illinois, or 12.5 percent of the population, have diabetes, according to the legislation.
SB 667 also provides that the Illinois Department of Insurance, along with the Department of Human Services and the Department of Healthcare and Family Services, must create a public insulin pricing report that includes a summary of insulin pricing practices and public policy recommendations to control and prevent the overpricing of insulin prescriptions.
Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, chief sponsor of the Senate bill, said in a statement that the legislation shows Illinoisans don’t have to accept costly prescriptions as the status quo.
“We can change the fact that prescription medication costs more in the United States than any place in the world. This legislation passed because people spoke up and told their story. This historic legislation doesn’t become law without them and their effort,” Manar said in the statement.
Use of DNA in missing person cases
House Bill 2708 (Public Act 101-0266) amends the Missing Persons Identification Act to allow law enforcement agencies to obtain a DNA sample of a missing person or a DNA reference sample from family members’ DNA, once a missing person report is made.
The law also provides that law enforcement cannot retain DNA samples from family members or the missing person after the person has been located.
It also adds the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, a national information clearinghouse for missing persons, to the list of laboratories that law enforcement agencies can work with when trying to find a missing person.
Sen. Tony Munoz, D-Chicago, who was one of the bill’s sponsors, said in a news release that using the national system will hopefully help law enforcement find missing people sooner.
“Successfully finding a missing person requires law enforcement to move fast, and we want to make sure they have every tool available to do their job,” Munoz said in the release.
Keeping victims’ addresses confidential
House Bill 2818 (Public Act 101-0270) amends the Address Confidentiality for Victims of Domestic Violence Act by including survivors of sexual assault and stalking in the Illinois Address Confidentiality Program (ACP), which offers survivors protection from their abusers by allowing them to acquire and use a substitute address instead of their real address.
HB 2818 allows survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking who fear for their safety to apply to the ACP through the Attorney General’s Office. The ACP forwards all first-class mail and provides survivors with a substitute address for public records and documents, such as driver’s licenses and state-issued identification cards.
The bill also changes the name of the law, from the Address Confidentiality for Victims of Domestic Violence Act to the Address Confidentiality for Victims of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault or Stalking Act.
In a written statement, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul said ACP is an important added layer of protection and peace of mind for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking.
“I am committed to ensuring that survivors have access to the resources and support needed to aid their recoveries, and I encourage survivors to participate in this program that can help protect them from the individuals who perpetrated crimes against them,” Raoul said in the statement.
Minimum wage increase
The minimum wage in Illinois rose from $10 per hour to $11 per hour on Jan. 1.
The Illinois General Assembly passed increases to the minimum wage in 2019 with legislation that raises the minimum wage $1 every year until it reaches $15 per hour in 2025.
In 2020, wage earners saw their hourly wage increase from $8.25 to $9.25 on Jan. 1, and to $10 on July 1.
“We want to make sure that workers earning minimum wage are aware that the $1 increase should be reflected in their paychecks for any time they work after the first of the year,” Michael Kleinik, director of the Illinois Department of Labor, said in a news release. “While we fully expect employers will pay the new wage, we also want workers to be aware of the change.”
(Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government and distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.)