Proposed Illinois Laws Could Ban Declawing Cats, Lower State's Drinking Age and More

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The new General Assembly has been busy in Springfield this term, introducing a slew of bills that could make some significant changes to the legal code.

Whether those laws involve animal protection, lowering the state’s drinking age or codifying protections against online harassment, the bills are making their way through the legislature.

Here is a list of some of those laws.

A Ban on Declawing Cats

HB 1533, introduced by Rep. Barbara Hernandez, would prohibit surgical claw removal or declawing cats.

Individuals who violate the law would incur a penalty of $500 for a first offense, with increased fines for additional offenses.

Maryland and New York are the only other two states that have banned the practice, according to PETA. The practice is also banned in dozens of countries, primarily in Europe.

Ban on Having a Pet in Your Lap While Driving

HB 2910 would amend Illinois’ vehicle code to prohibit drivers in passenger vehicles from holding animals in their lap while operating the vehicle.

A person who violates the law would be subject to a fine of $50.

Exemptions are written into the law for farmers operating machinery and select other instances.

Lowering Illinois’ Drinking Age

HB 4021, introduced by State Rep. John Cabello, would lower the state’s legal age to purchase or consume alcohol from 21 to 18 years of age.

The federal government passed a law mandating that the drinking age be raised to 21 back in 1984, threatening to withhold highway funding for states that did not comply with the law. That action was upheld as constitutional by the Supreme Court.

Illinois set the drinking age at 21 in 1934 after the end of Prohibition.

Proponents of the higher drinking age cite improved health outcomes for young adults, while those calling for the drinking age to be lowered cite studies suggesting that allowing young adults to drink in controlled environments is better for their health than prohibiting consumption of alcohol.  

Increased Penalties for “Doxing”

The Illinois House recently passed a bill that would allow victims of “doxing” to pursue civil damages from those that attack them.

According to the text of the bill, doxing is defined as “the act of sharing an individual’s personal information without that person’s consent and with the intent to cause harm to the individual whose personal information is shared.”

The bill targets those who post such information with “reckless disregard,” and with the knowledge that such revelations would create a reasonable likelihood that a victim would “suffer death, bodily injury or stalking.”

The legislation is modeled after similar bills in Oregon and Nevada, according to lawmakers.

In a speech where he announced millions of dollars in funding to combat carjacking, Illinois Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias touted a bill that passed the State House earlier this month that would withhold funding for libraries in the state that ban books.

Financial Penalties for Libraries That Ban Books

A bill recommended by Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias, HB 2789, would withhold funding from public libraries that ban books for “personal or partisan” reasons.

“This is an alarming phenomenon that’s occurring throughout the nation, including Illinois, which is designed to polarize and disrupt our communities,” he said.

There were 67 attempts to ban books in Illinois in 2022, an increase from the previous year, according to the American Library Association.

Ban on Using Video Chat While Driving

Giannoulias also is pursuing a bill that would prohibit drivers from using Zoom and other video-conference platforms while driving.

The bill would also prohibit drivers from streaming videos or accessing social media while behind the wheel.

Motorists can still participate in conference calls, but would have to use hands-free devices.

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