More than 250 new state laws take effect in 2020
by KATHRYN MERCK
In addition to the legalization of recreational marijuana for adults age 21 and older, more than 250 other new laws will go into effect beginning Jan. 1.
The Illinois Senate Democrats recently released a list of laws that were passed by the General Assembly in 2019 and signed by Governor J.B. Pritzker.
Jan. 1 is the default date for a new law to become effective if the law passed before June 1, unless the legislation designates an alternative effective date. Other laws carry an "immediately effective" start date that goes into effect at various times throughout the year.
Some of the new laws include the following provisions:
A state law will increase the minimum wage by $1 to $9.25 on Jan. 1. This increase will be followed by a 75-cent increase to a $10 dollar minimum wage on July 1. The increase will reach $15 per hour by 2025. Tipped workers can still be paid 60 percent of the regular minimum wage. The law also includes a payroll deduction tax credit for employers with 50 or fewer workers.
A law will reduce the fee from $10 to $5 for original, renewal, or duplicated Illinois ID cards for people younger than age 18. Also, veterans with disabilities will be able to receive a special license plate on motorcycles commemorating their service. A new law also will require the Secretary of State to allow applicants to choose between "male," "female," or "non-binary" when designating an applicant’s sex on their driver’s license or ID card.
A law bans people from streaming videos on a cell phone while driving. A different law also bans tinted headlights from being installed on cars, and another law increases the maximum penalty for hitting a construction worker from $10,000 to $25,000.
A new law raises the fine for illegally passing a school bus from $150 to $300 for an initial violation and $500 to $1000 for a future violation.
Another law prohibits a diesel truck from idling for more than a total of 10 minutes within an hour if the vehicle is within 200 feet of a residential area.
Many other laws have been passed regarding different gender identities. A law will allow for single-occupancy restrooms in public locations to be identified as all-gender and designated for use by no more than one person at a time. This law also requires exterior signage that marks the restroom, but does not indicate any specific gender. A law also prohibits anyone to be excluded from jury service on the basis of sexual orientation.
There will also be many changes in the classroom next year.
Another law will require students to take 3 years of mathematics to graduate high school but will provide local school districts with flexibility over the required courses to remove barriers to graduation for some students.
Another law will require American history classes to include instruction on the history of Illinois for the 2020-2021 school year. Also, the Public University Uniform Admission Act will require the state’s public universities to admit first-time freshman applicants as undergraduate students if the applicant graduated in the top 10 percent of their high school graduating class. A new law also begins the process of the Illinois treasurer creating the Illinois Higher Education Savings Program, which will use tax dollars to provide a $50 college-savings fund for each child in the state.
Also transgender students will be eligible for state financial aid at all higher education institutions.
A discussion on the meaning of consent will also be required in schools for students in sixth through twelfth grades and each school is required to implement policy on sexual harassment to be included in the district’s student code of conduct.
Another law will require employers to train workers annually on preventing sexual harassment in the workplace. The Illinois Department of Human Rights is required to make a training program free online for employers to provide to workers.
A new law will also impose enhanced penalties for crimes in places of worship. Aggravated assault or battery charges will be imposed when a person commits an assault or battery in a place used for religious worship. A new law also expands the offense of threats against schools made online even if they do not specifically mention a bomb.
A law amends the Illinois Police Training Act, making various changes in the hiring requirements for police officers. The law states that if the training certification is not completed during the initial 6-month period or under the 90-day extension, the applicant must wait one full calendar year before testing becomes available again under that same agency. The law also states that if an applicant is hired with another department, that recruit must wait one full calendar year with the original department he or she tested with prior to a lateral transfer.
Another law increases the burial benefit for a fireman, state police, or local law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty from $10,000 to $20,000. A new law allows children and stepchildren of police officers or firefighters who have died in the line of duty to be issued a deceased police officer or firefighter license plates.
Another law requires companies that collect personal information about Illinois residents to report data breaches affecting more than 500 Illinois residents to the Attorney General.
A law makes individual serving a sentence for an offense committed before June 19, 1998 eligible for good time sentence credits for completion of a degree, substance abuse, or other rehabilitation programming.
Changes in the Animal Welfare Act requires dog or cat kennel operator buildings to be equipped with a fire sprinkler or fire alarm system if the establishment is not staffed at all times. A different new law requires cats to receive a rabies vaccination with a tag and certification. The requirement does not apply to feral cats, unless the feral cat is taken to the vet for sterilization.
A new law allows landlords to request documentation when allowing a service animal on the premises where pets are generally prohibited.
A full list of the laws can be found at www.illinoissenatedemocrats.com.