Nearly 300 New Illinois Laws Take Effect Jan. 1. Here Are Some You Should Know About

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Nearly 300 new laws will take effect in Illinois at the start of the new year.

According to both Democratic and Republican lawmakers, the laws include everything from excused mental health days for students to a minimum wage hike to optional college admissions testing to new official holidays to criminal justice reform and more.

Here are some you should know about, according to both the Senate Democratic and Senate Republican caucuses.

SB 1682:

Requires pharmacies to post a notice informing customers they can request the retail price of brand name or generic prescription drugs.

HB 576/SB 1577: Mental Health Excused Absences for Illinois Public Schools

Gives Illinois students up to five excused absences to prioritize their mental health.

HB 0605

Requires state agencies and institutions to only purchase Illinois and American flags made in the U.S.

SB 817

Prohibits discrimination against natural and ethnic hairstyles, including locs, braids, twists and afros.

SB 119: Let Kids Be Kids

Prohibits lemonade stands and other means of nonalcoholic sale operated by a person under the age of 16 from being regulated or shut down by public health authorities. The law stemmed from an instance where a lemonade stand was shut down because the child had not obtained the required permit for the stand.

HB 3922

Recognizes June 19 – Juneteenth – as an official holiday celebrating the end of slavery in the U.S.

HB 168

Prohibits people who have a record of felony offenses like torture or animal fighting from owning or living with animals.

HB 122: Consumer Protection

Ends early termination fees on utility contracts for deceased residents. As of Jan. 1, providers of telephone, cellular phone, television, Internet, energy, medical alert system, and water services are prohibited from charging a fee for termination or early cancellation of a service contract.

SB 58

Lowers the registration fee for trailers weighing less than 3,000 lbs. from $118 to $36.

HB 226: Optional College Admissions Testing

Allows students to choose whether to submit their ACT/SAT score when applying to Illinois public institutions. The law only affects admissions processes for the state’s public institutions of higher learning.

Minimum Wage Increase

On Jan. 1, the minimum wage increases to $12 per hour, and will continue to increase on Jan. 1 each year until it hits $15 per hour on Jan. 1, 2025.

FOID Law Changes

The new FOID law makes following changes beginning Jan. 1, 2021:

• Encourages but does not require fingerprinting. Those who agree to fingerprinting are granted a streamlined process for renewal of FOID Cards and CCL licenses.
• Allows for the Illinois State Police to issue a combined FOID Card and concealed carry license to qualified applicants.
• Requires the Illinois State Police to establish a public database of all firearms that have been reported stolen to be checked prior to the transfer of any firearm to prevent the inadvertent transfer of stolen firearms.
• Tasks a new Violent Crime Intelligence Task Force to conduct enforcement operations against those with revoked FOID Cards.

In addition, the following additional provisions take effect on Jan. 1, 2024:

• Requires person-to-person firearm transfers to be subject to National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) checks at a federal licensed firearms dealer or through online validation by the Illinois State Police using NICS.
• Requires Federal Firearms Licensures (FFL) to keep the record of a transfer for 20 years. On the demand of a peace officer, transferees have to identify the FFL dealer maintaining the transfer record. The penalty for not doing so is a Class A misdemeanor.
• Requires that those who receive a firearm in a private transfer to provide a record of the transfer to a licensed firearm dealer within 10 days. The dealer in turn must keep the record for 20 years and may charge up to $25 for keeping it. The recipient of the firearm must be able to provide the name of the firearm dealer maintaining the record for that particular firearm upon demand by law enforcement. Failure to do so is a Class A misdemeanor.

HB 3653: Criminal Justice Reform Bill

A bill that brings sweeping criminal justice and police reforms, including the end of cash bail in Illinois, is about to be signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker Monday.

Provisions of the bill, which include several elements opposed by law enforcement and victims’ advocacy groups, take effect at different times. One provision of the law taking effect at the beginning of the new year includes the start of the phase-in requirement that all law enforcement officers in the state wear body cameras by 2025.

Counties and cities with populations of 500,000 or more (City of Chicago; Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, and Will counties) must require all law enforcement officers to wear body cameras by Jan. 1, 2022. Smaller departments will be phased in, with all officers across the state required to wear them by 2025.

Other provisions of the bill take effect at later dates. Read more about the bill here.

Email, Social Media Posts Added to No Contact Orders

To close a loophole some predators were using to reach targeted victims, the Legislature has taken steps to strengthen the Stalking/No Contact Order Act.

As of Jan. 1, a person who is prohibited through a no-contact order from contacting another individual by phone or in person can also be restrained from
sending email, texts, or social media posts.

Strengthening Penalties Against Child Predators

Legislators closed a loophole that allowed family members found to be in possession of child pornography to escape jail time. Through an amendment to the Code of Corrections, child pornography laws make possession of child pornography when the child is a household or family member of the defendant a non-probational offense. Previously, this category of offenders could receive a sentence of probation for their pornography conviction.

Agricultural Sciences Becomes Official Class

For high school students, courses in agricultural sciences will now count toward the three-year minimum of science classes required for admission into a public university in Illinois. Classes in agricultural sciences can also now be taken in lieu of the current two-year requirement of a foreign language for admittance into a public university.

Outlining the Costs of College

Through a new comprehensive report that must now be completed by all public universities in Illinois, when a student declares or changes a major of study, the public university the student attends must provide that student with a report that includes the following:
• The estimated cost of his or her education associated with pursuing a degree in that major;
• The average monthly student loan payment over a period of 20 years based on the estimated cost of his or her education;
• The average job placement rate within 12 months after graduation for a graduate who holds a degree in that major;
• The average entry-level wage or salary for an occupation related to that major; and
• The average wage or salary five years after entry into an occupation related to that major.

Free Gold Star License Plates for Survivors

As of Jan. 1, the state of Illinois will be offering free Gold Star license plates for a surviving widow, widower, or parent of a person who served in the U.S. Armed Forces and lost his or her life while in wartime service. Previously, a $151 registration fee was charged for these specialty plates.

State Flags for Next of Kin

Upon the death of an Illinois serviceman/woman, a member of the Illinois National
Guard will present a State of Illinois flag to the next of kin.

Repackaging Unused Prescription Medications

Through the new Illinois Drug Reuse Opportunity Program Act, individuals may now donate their unused prescription medications back to participating pharmacies, which could then repackage them and make them available to patients in need. Pharmacies may charge a nominal handling fee.

See more new laws taking effect in January here.

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