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.
More than 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 Assembly in 2018.
Jan. 1 is the default date for a new law to become effective if passed before June 1, unless there is language establishing another date. Some pieces of legislation specify an alternative effective date, while other bills that carry an "immediately effective" date can go into effect at other times of the year.
Some of the new laws include the following provisions:
A new law allows multiple contiguous municipalities to consolidate into one city or village. Additional laws allow sanitary districts to combine and jointly operate the district’s waterworks and sewage system via an ordinance, for mosquito abatement districts to consolidate, for county boards to dissolve election commissions and transfer duties to the county clerk, and for certain home rule municipalities to disconnect territory from a fire protection district if the municipality provides service to at least 80 percent of the territory. Another law provides that the township cannot employ a person elected to any township position in any other capacity other than their elected position.
New laws also allow local governments the option to notify residents of information electronically rather than via mailings, while also allowing governments or political subdivisions to wave requirements for public hearings and procedures for evaluation and selection of architectural, engineering or land surveying services for projects expected to cost less than $150,000 in the event of "emergency situations" for construction or renovation projects that require expedition.
Other laws allow school districts or community colleges to apply for grants to create facilities dedicated solely for occupational manufacturing education, while also requiring public institutions of higher education to offer black history courses.
Another law requires all students entering ninth grade to have a dental exam, adding onto existing exam requirements for students entering kindergarten, second and sixth grades.
A new law requires Chicago Public Schools to send copies of teacher evaluations to the Chicago Teachers Union within 7 days of an evaluation, while another bill requires joint committees that review teacher evaluation plans to meet at least once a year. Another law requires any Web site that displays criminal record information to be removed upon written request.
New laws guarantee seven in-person visits per month for inmates at the Illinois Department of Corrections, and inmates can submit a list of up to 30 people that are authorized to visit, while also mandating the DOC to collect and publish quarterly data on violence within prisons and data about the release and status of previously institutionalized people.
Another law adds Chicago to the list of municipalities that ban ticket quota practices requiring police officers to issue a certain amount of citations within a given time period.
Makes elected office titles gender neutral. For instance, a committeeman or a chairman becomes a committeeperson or chairperson.
Another new law allows a person registered under the Murderer and Violent Offender Against Youth Registration Act to petition for removal from the list if they have already completed 5 consecutive years on the registry, have avoided additional felony convictions, and can demonstrate exemplary conduct within their community via methods including character witnesses, while another law allows an individual charged with certain crimes to petition to change their name. This excludes people convicted of identity theft, sexual crimes leading to registration as a sex offender, or felonies unless they were pardoned or 10 years have passed since the completion of a felony sentence.
A new law Creates the Healthcare Violence Prevention Act to protect nurses, doctors and other healthcare workers from violence in healthcare workplaces. For instance, "whistleblower" protections prevent management from discouraging healthcare workers from filing police reports, healthcare providers must offer immediate post-incident services such as psychological evaluations for its workers, workplaces must implement workplace violence programs, and medical facilities can now work with the Department of Corrections and must use security restraints and guards with committed people who may be violent.
Another law expands training in identifying the warning signs of youth mental illness and suicidal behavior to all licensed school personnel and administrators working with students in kindergarten through twelfth grade, rather than just seventh through twelfth grade students.
Allows the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) to administer professional license examinations for barbers, cosmetologists, estheticians, hair braiders and nail technicians after completing a set number of study hours.
Other laws allow a spouse, parent, or adult grandchild or sibling of a ward of the state to petition a court for visitation rights if a guardian "unreasonably prevents" visitation, while also prohibiting people from serving as the guardian to a ward if they are employed by an agency that provides residential services to state wards. A ward of the state is someone who cannot care for themselves, including neglected and abused children or certain disabled adults, who is then placed under the care of a legal guardian by a court.
Additionally, laws grant guardians and foster or adoptive parents the right to pursue orders of protection if the child was abused or harassed in the past by family or household members, requires the Department of Children and Family Services to maintain all unfounded reports of child death, abuse or serious injury for at least five years after the final finding, 5 allowing Adult Protective Services to investigate claims of abuse, neglect or financial exploitation of an assisted-care resident, even if the incident involved a family member, caregiver or another person outside of the assisted-care facility.
Additional laws require early childhood education programs to collect and review data on chronic absences, and also require all school districts to report various data on class sizes to the Illinois State Board of Education each year. The ISBE would be required to publish the data on its Web site before Dec. 1 each year, and legislation also sets class size goals for the 2020 school year.
New laws mandate the Board of Higher Education to develop a 3-year education loan information pilot program for public college students and exempt student savings accounts from debt collection agencies, similarly to tax-advantaged Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) savings accounts.
Changes from 3 to 5 years the statute of limitations for prosecuting certain forms of fraud or kickbacks, including vendor fraud or managed health care fraud involving more than $5,000.
New animal-related laws requires animal control facilities and shelters to report intake and outcome statistics to the Department of Agriculture, ban the sale of ivory, and extends the authorization for advance deposit wagering on horse racing through 2022.
Another law allows the Illinois Department of Transportation to lease locomotives, passenger railcars and other train equipment to any state agency or public, private or quasi-public entity.
Additional "Survivor’s Bill of Rights" protections include the right to shower at hospitals post-examination, the right to obtain copies of police reports relating to assault incidents, and allowing a sexual assault advocate or support person to be present during physical examinations. Another law allows a prosecution to commence within one year after the discovery of an offense involving sexual conduct or penetration of victims older than 18 years old.
A full list of the laws can be found at www.illinoissenatedemocrats.com.