Only a handful of new state laws going into effect in 2021
by JASON MEREL
In a “typical” year it’s common for more than 200 to 250 laws to go into effect on Jan 1, but due to the pandemic only a handful of laws will take effect in 2021.
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.
The last time state legislators met was at the end of May, and that was mainly to vote on a budget. However, some of the new laws that go into effect have the following provisions:
Some of the new laws will create a process for using DNA to attempt to identify and locate missing persons, allow sexual assault and stalking survivors to participate in an address confidentiality program managed by the Attorney General and create consumer price caps for insulin for many in-state insurance providers, according to the Illinois Senate Democrats, which released a brief list of new laws.
House Bill 2708 amends the Missing Persons Identification Act to allow law enforcement agencies to attempt to gather a DNA sample of the missing person and a DNA reference sample created from family members samples for submission to state police or the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) partner laboratory at the time of the missing person report.
The law also provides that if the person identified in the missing person report remains missing after 30 days, but not for more than 60 days, the law enforcement agency may generate a report of the missing person within NamUs, and the enforcement agency may attempt to obtain additional information and materials that have not been received.
Another law amends the Address Confidentiality for Victims of Domestic Violence Act. The law allows a person who is a victim of sexual assault or stalking to apply for the Illinois Address Confidentiality Program, which is managed by the Illinois Attorney General’s Office. The program provides a substitute address for victims to use for official purposes and also forwards correspondence to the victim so that abusers cannot track them. The law previously only allowed victims of domestic violence to apply for the program.
Senate Bill 667 removes provisions amending the Attorney General Act and requires the Department of Insurance, the Department of Human Services and the Department of Healthcare and Family Services to make a report available to the public that details each department’s findings regarding insulin-pricing practices and variables that contribute to pricing of health coverage plans.
The bill also requires that public policy recommendations to control and prevent overpricing of prescription insulin drugs be made available to consumers. According to the law, insurance providers may not charge more than $100 for a 30-day supply of insulin, regardless of the quantity or type.
Because of the ongoing pandemic the fall veto session was canceled due to a spike in COVID-19 cases. To try to remedy such incidents in the future, state Representative Ann Williams (D-11) and state Senator Robert Martwick (D-10) filed bills in both chambers allowing the legislature to conduct official business remotely.
Previous legislation to allow remote work failed in the House by one vote in May. State Senate rules allow for committees to convene for informational purposes but nothing may be voted on, the legislators said in a statement.
House Bill 5878 would amend the General Assembly Organization Act to say that “in times of pestilence or an emergency resulting from a domestic or foreign terrorist attack, members of the General Assembly may participate remotely and cast votes in sessions, by joint proclamation of the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate, and committees of either the House of Representatives or Senate may participate remotely pursuant to the rules of the chamber.” The amendment provides that the House of Representatives and the Senate must adopt rules for remote participation and would be effective immediately, if passed.
“I’ve been actively lobbying House members,” Martwick told Nadig Newspapers. “The barriers are simple and that’s fear of the unknown. Legislators in May were afraid of what might happen if we allowed remote legislation. I think most are more comfortable now that we had 8 months of Zoom meetings.”
Martwick said that while remote legislation would allow for work to be completed, it would never replace in-person sessions.
“This impacts each of us, our families and our communities,” said Martwick. “It’s critical we develop an approach which makes sense, can be implemented easily and will work for all of us.”
There were also a few law amendments that went into effect throughout the year. As of July 1, 2020, Illinois drivers no longer have their driving privileges suspended after 10 or more unpaid fines from non-moving violations, under Senate Bill 1786.
Also, as of July 1, 2020, the school code was amended regarding the textbook block grant program, which says that textbooks authorized to be purchased must include the roles and contributions of all people protected under the Illinois Human Rights Act and must be non-discriminatory as to any of the characteristics under the act.
House Bill 246 provides that “in public schools only, the teaching of history of the United States shall include a study of the roles and contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in the history of this country and this State.”
Another law in effect states that drivers who are involved in an accident that hurt someone while using a phone will be subject to a $1,000 fine and be subject to having their license revoked.