More new state laws take effect with start of new year





by KEVIN GROSS

Following is a second article on provisions of state laws that took effect this year.

Almost 200 new state laws took effect on Jan. 1, and Illinois Senate Democrats have released a compilation of bills that were passed by the Illinois General last year.

Some of the new laws include the following provisions:

Puts regulations in place to ensure transparency when landlords deduct fines and penalties from renters. If a lease specifies costs of repairs for home areas not to be replaced, the landlord may withhold a dollar amount specified in the lease. Itemized statements documenting cost amounts must accompany such deductions.

Prohibits a victim’s sexual orientation from being considered a mitigating factor to reduce an offender’s sentencing or charge in murder cases and clarifies that it does not constitute serious provocation in second degree murder cases.

Another law allows an individual to change their sex designation on their birth certificate without undergoing a gender transition, while another law requires the Governor’s Office of Boards and Commissions to offer an option for sexual orientation in applications and requires it to report those numbers.

Requires insurance companies to ensure families are receiving their due life insurance payouts by periodically checking any unclaimed life insurance policies against a state death registry.

Allows motorists to pass bicyclists in no-passing zones and allows bicyclists to drive on the shoulder. Another law creates three new classifications of electric bicycles and allows local authorities to regulate low-speed electric and gas bicycles, including preventing people younger than age 16 from operating certain electric bicycles that are powered up to 28 miles-per-hour.

New laws allow notice of public referenda to be up to 60 days prior to voting instead of 30 days by amending the Election Code and require circuit courts to post a public notice with details on how to file complaints against judges.

Consolidates provisions regarding obtaining and issuing orders of protection and no contact orders, commonly known as restraining orders, and creates a criminal offense for the violation of no contact orders while also allowing the State’s Attorney to petition for protective orders on behalf of a victim. Also, a law allows domestic violence victims to continue to use their current cell phone when they have separated from their abuser, helping them leave by saving them financial costs from setting up a new phone.

A new law creates a 5-year pilot program that the Department of Children and Family Services may implement to help get children out of abusive homes, which will partner domestic violence advocates, child welfare investigators and family caseworkers in at least three department field offices statewide.

New laws require prisons to allow inmates to receive visitors in person or via video teleconference, with some exceptions for behavior, as well as prohibiting the Department of Corrections from limiting in-person visits to inmates solely due to the availability of video-conferencing.

Requires the Department of Human Services to publicly report demographic data of participants in department programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Allows driver’s license or identification card applicants the opportunity to be included in the First Person Consent organ and tissue donor registration starting at age 16, rather than age 18. Also, a law requires the Secretary of State to include information on human trafficking in its commercial driver’s license curriculum and study guide information.

Allows a pharmacist to administer progesterone injections to pregnant women to lower the risk of preterm birth if a patient has a valid prescription.

Provides that an individual who is at least 18 years of age may purchase from a pharmacy and have in his or her possession up to 100 hypodermic syringes or needles, an increase from the previous limit of 20.

Bans employers from penalizing employees who refuse to disclose their genetic information or participate in workplace wellness programs that require disclosure of such information.

Provides that people cannot be denied parenting time, participation in private or public adoption, or foster care or guardianship because they are blind.

Permits retailers to sell metal beverage containers known as Crowlers, which are cans with large detachable openings not requiring can openers and often used to contain beer.

Limits the Department of Natural Resources to issuing a maximum of five commercial fishing licenses for harvesting yellow perch, bloater chubs or other commercial fish species within the Illinois portion of Lake Michigan.

A new law allows pet owners to create partial or joint custody for pets upon dissolution of a marriage, similar to joint custody of children.

Provides that volunteer firefighters or emergency medical service personnel cannot be terminated by their employer for responding to an emergency call or text. Also, a law allows municipal or county emergency service or disaster service vehicles to be equipped with sirens.

Allows a fire protection district to annex, by ordinance, property into its jurisdiction for which the district is providing 9-1-1 caller coverage under the Emergency Telephone System Act. Property owners must be notified 20 days prior to annexation, and property owners in unincorporated areas must submit verification of fire protection to receive property insurance. Also, a law regulates the maintenance and management of "dry hydrants" under the Fire Hydrant Act, which connect to lakes, ponds or other bodies of water rather than private or public water systems.

Another law bans African and Asian elephants from use in circuses and traveling animal acts.

Allows the Department of Natural Resources to establish rules for the public to scatter cremated ashes in a state park.

Creates rules and regulations for "rent-to-own" style apartment contracts, which allow purchase of the property after an amount of rental time or payments. For instance, a buyer may void the purchase within 90 days if an issue is discovered in the property title, and contracts may be subject to foreclosure provisions in the Code of Civil Procedure if the buyer has paid at least 10 percent of the original property purchase price.

Improves management of condominium boards by making several changes to the Condominium Property Act and the Common Interest Community Association Act, including allowing condo unit owners to inspect certain documents such as contracts or expenditure records without stating purpose and requiring the delivery of requested documents within 10 business days, or requiring associations with at least 100 units to use generally accepted accounting principles for any accounting obligations.

Clarifies what cottage food operations, featuring homemade goods sold directly to consumers at locations such as farmers markets, are allowed to produce without being subject to health department regulations. Most baked goods are not subject to regulations, while regulated goods labeled as potential hazards include meats, dairy and animal products, non-dehydrated cut leafy greens or tomatoes and melons.

Allows a child born within 36 months of a parent’s death to inherit from the deceased parent if the child was born with the parent’s knowledge and consent.

Allows a forest preserve district to lessen or eliminate unpaid taxes and existing liens when acquiring distressed properties acquired through certain processes such as foreclosure or judicial deed.

Requires the Department of Public Health to develop an informational brochure about meningococcal disease, a transmittable bacterial infection that can affect the bloodstream or central nervous system and cause meningitis. Brochures must also be distributed to college or university students by their institution.

Requires that fees for birth record searches or certified copies of birth records be waived for all requests if made by a homeless person.

Requires dry cleaners, barbers and tailors to provide price lists for standard services upon request, which aims to expose gender-based price discrimination and allow consumers to make educated choices.

Prohibits motor vehicle dealers from allowing drivers to leave the premises in vehicles with any type of signs or decals on windows that would obstruct the driver’s view.

Another law provides that when an individual or entity that is not a school district, religious organization, or school bus vendor or company buys a school bus, they must repaint the bus, eliminate "school bus" wording and remove the stop signal arm.

Eliminates the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Task Group, granting new authority to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to select and manage regional disposal facility sites.