New year, new laws

    At the stroke of midnight on Jan 1, more than 250 new laws went into effect in the state of Illinois.
    Lawmakers, with approval from the governor, passed a myriad of measures on topics that range from education and courts, to local government and veterans affairs.
    The General Assembly’s actions also establish Dec. 3 of each year as  Statehouse Day to honor Illinois’ admission to the union in 1818 and the third Friday of each May will now serve as First Responder Mental Health Awareness Day to honor those who lost their lives or suffer as a result of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, or other mental health issues.
    Parents, guardians or anyone who transports young children should be aware the state will now require children under 2-years-old to be secured in rear facing child restraint seats. The only exceptions are if the child weighs more than 40 pounds or is taller than 40 inches.
    Additionally, every person transporting a child under 8 years of age is responsible for properly securing the child in the vehicle.
    The state also passed an employee expense reimbursement rule whereby employers shall reimburse employees for expenses the employer authorized or requires such as cellular phones and computers. Employers are not responsible for losses due to an employee’s own negligence or loss due to normal wear or theft.
    Hunters take note that blaze pink is now an approved color to wear during the firearm deer and upland game season.
    The new laws also expand protections related to sexual harassment, allow family members  and law enforcement officials to petition the court to keep guns out of the hands of individuals they believe pose a threat to themselves or others and Senate Bill 3412 expands the state’s stalking laws to include unwanted messages sent and received through social media apps. It further allows businesses, schools and places of worship to seek restraining orders against stalkers.
    One other notable piece of legislation calls for the creation of a 20-member Route 66 Centennial Commission. The agency will be charged with planning and coordinating commemorative events throughout the state to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the historic highway.
    A selection of the new laws follows.
    Animal  Protection— Provides that nothing prevents a law enforcement officer from taking temporary custody of an animal that is being put in danger due to extreme heat or cold conditions; however, the officer must attempt to make contact with the owner. Also, the owner is responsible of cost required for veterinary care.
    Reckless Dog Owner Penalties— Sets penalties for those found to be reckless dog owners and allows courts to confiscate dogs from owners for periods ranging from 12 to 36 months for the first violation.
    Notary Public— The Secretary of State may now reprimand, suspend and revoke the commission of a notary public. The Secretary of State may investigate violations of the Act committed by a notary public.
    Carnival Background Check— Allows for the revocation of a permit to operate for carnivals, amusement attractions or fairs that fail to conduct a background check of every ride operator at their permitted attraction if they are found to have violated the law three or more times.
    72-Hour Waiting Period— Creates a 72-hour waiting period on all firearms, not just handguns. The bill also eliminates the current exemption from the waiting period requirements for the sale of a firearm to a nonresident of Illinois while at a recognized gun show. The bill retains the current 24 hour withholding period for stun guns and tasers. A violation for this provision would be a Class 4 Felony.
    Township Officers— Prevents all elected and appointed township officials from simultaneously holding any other employment with the township in which they are elected. Exempts volunteer firefighters from the prohibition.
    Child Abuse Reports— Requires DCFS to keep all unfounded reports of child abuse or neglect in its central register for a minimum of five years. Seeks to provide DCFS investigators more information so they may better recognize patterns of abuse or neglect.
    Visitation Clarification— Clarifies situations where a grandparent, great-grandparent, sibling or step-parent can seek visitation.
    Public Lactation Room— Requires every facility that houses a circuit court to designate a lactation room or area by June 1, 2019. The lactation room or area cannot be in a restroom.
    Medication Disposal— Broadens the definition of “unused medication” to include medications that are in liquid form, specifically suspensions. This would permit police officers and nurses to dispose of liquid medications that are located at death scenes.
    Mobile Home Owner Disposing Abandoned Homes— Authorizes mobile home owners and operators to remove and dispose of an abandoned mobile home. A proceeding to remove an abandoned mobile home can be filed in the circuit court of the county that the mobile home is located.
    Booking Photograph Limitation— Limits the publishing of booking photographs, “mugshots,” on social media with respect to civil offenses and offenses less than a Class A misdemeanor, unless the photo has been posted in order to assist in the search of a missing person or fugitive, person of interest, or in relation to a more serious crime.
    Enforcement Training— Requires the Law Enforcement Training Standards Board to develop a program for school resource officers, and establishes requirements and determine if existing local police agency training meets requirements.
    Nursing Mom Jury Duty— Exempts nursing mothers from jury service.
    Dual Credit Access— Seeks to improve access to dual credit coursework for Illinois students. Requires community colleges to enter into a dual credit agreement if a high school district within their boundaries requests it, and other changes.
    Mental Health Awareness— Requires licensed school personnel and administrators who work with students in grades K-12 to be trained, once every two years, to identify the warning signs of mental illness and suicidal behavior in youth and be taught appropriate intervention and referral techniques.
    Safety Drills — Requires active shooter/threat school safety drills for students and faculty to be conducted within 90 days of the start of the school year.
    Open Meeting Act Exemptions— Provides certain exemptions for certain situations, including joint committees on matters related to school district’s performance evaluation rating system, negotiating team strategies, etc.
    Child Dental Examination Requirement— Requires children in ninth grade to have dental examination before May 15th of the school year, and is applicable to public, private and parochial schools.
    Smoking Enforcement— Gives the Department of Natural Resources and Illinois State Police law enforcement agencies power to enforce smoking violations.
    Concussion Information— Requires the Department of Public Health to develop, publish and disseminate a brochure to educate the public on concussions in children and how to look for warning signs. Requires schools to provide the brochure free of charge to parents/guardians of children who may have sustained a concussion regardless of where the concussion may have taken place.
    Bone-Marrow Registry— Requires the Department of Public Health to develop and disseminate information about a bone-marrow registry that includes information about the need for bone-marrow donations, the population that would benefit from donations, how to join a bone-marrow registry, and how to acquire a free buccal swab kid from a bone-marrow registry.
    Influenza Vaccine Info— Requires IDPH to provide schools info on influenza and meningococcal diseases, and requires schools to distribute when distributing info on vaccinations, influenza, infectious diseases, etc.
    Black History Course Requirement— Requires every public institution of higher education and community colleges to offer a course studying the events of Black History.
    Education Loan Pilot Program— State colleges shall provide students or their parent/guardian with estimates of the total amount of education loans taken out by the student or parent/guardian, the potential total payoff amount of the incurred loans, the monthly repayment amounts of similarly situated borrower may incur for the amount of loans the student or parent/guardian has taken out at the time the information is provided. They shall also provide the percentage of the borrowing limit the student or parent/guardian has reached at the time the information is provided and any financial resources available to the student or the parent/guardian.
    Out-of-state Vehicle Liability Insurance— Requires a person operating a vehicle that is registered in another state on Illinois highways must be covered by a liability insurance policy. The operator must also carry evidence of insurance in the vehicle.
    Stage 4 Cancer Drugs— Prohibits insurers from limiting or excluding coverage for a drug used to treat stage 4, metastatic cancer by requiring an insured to first try to successfully respond to another drug or prove history of failure to the drug.
    Local Government Electronic Notifications— Allows a unit of local government to establish a process to allow people to select an electronic notification delivery system, such as e-mail or other electronic means, for governmental mailings that are being sent by the United States mail.
    Local Government Caps— Raises the cap for architecture, surveying, and engineering projects under $40,000 to be exempt from certain public notice, evaluation and selection procedures.
    Flood Control Commission— For collar counties to study flood control practices and conduct a survey of DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will Counties.
    Missing High Risk Military Person— Adds veterans and active duty members of the reserves and Armed Forces believed to have physical or mental health issues related to service, to the definition of “high-risk missing person.”
    Non-Marital Life Insurance— Seeks to make changes with regard to beneficiaries of life insurance policies in response to circumstances where some life insurance policy owners do not change the beneficiary after the dissolution of a marriage, they then pass away and the ex-spouse seeks to claim the proceeds from the policy because the ex-spouse is still listed as the  beneficiary.
    Prescription Refills— Adds  that  prescriptions, excluding those for controlled substances, shall be valid for up to 15 months from the issue date for the purpose of refills, unless the prescription states otherwise.
    Gender Neutral Code Amendments— Amends the election code to replace gender specific terms with gender neutral terms, such as changing ‘chairman’ to ‘chair.’
    Officer Involved Shooting Policies— Requires all law enforcement agencies to adopt a written policy for the internal review of officer involved shootings, available for copying and inspection under the Freedom of Information Act.
    Sex Offense Statute of Limitations—Extends the statute of limitations for sex offenses committed against an adult for one year after discovery by the victim.
    Synthetic Cannabis, Bath Salts, and Piperazines—Makes it so that synthetic cannabinoids and piperazines are Schedule I controlled substances when they are not approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or, if approved, are not dispensed or possessed in accordance with state or federal law. Includes any synthetic cathinone which is not approved by the FDA.
    Posting Requirement for Intersex/Gender Individuals— Allows the court to waive the notice and publication requirement for a change of name involving a person who files with the court a written declaration that publishing their name change would place them at risk of physical harm or discrimination. This seeks to provide more privacy for individuals undergoing a gender change when they seek to change their name.
    Child Support Driver’s License Suspension— Advances a penalty reduction for driving on a suspended or revoked driver’s license for failure to comply with a visitation order, as well as for unpaid parking tickets. Only after someone racks up three or more tickets without paying any fees associated with the citations will they be guilty of a class A misdemeanor.
    Protective Orders— Establishes that foster parents, legally appointed guardians, adoptive parents and prospective adoptive parents are added as persons protected under the Domestic Violence Act and Protective Orders Article.
    Sexual Harassment Training— Provides that for professions that have continuing education requirements, the required continuing education hours shall include at least one hour of sexual harassment prevention training for license renewals occurring on or after Jan. 1, 2020.
    DCFS Youth Post-Secondary Tuition and Fee Waivers— Increases access to post-secondary education for foster youth in care by providing tuition and fee waivers at any community college, university, or college maintained by the state.
    For those interested in the complete list of new laws visit State Senator Sue Rezin’s website at