From new penalties for driving violations to a minimum wage hike to added education requirements, there are a number of new Illinois laws for 2023 you should know about.
More than 180 new laws began in the new year, which started Sunday, though some will take effect a little later.
There are new rules for homeowners, business owners, drivers, teachers, food industry workers and more -- and some could come with fines for those who don't follow through.
To see the full list of new Illinois now in place, click here.
Feeling out of the loop? We'll catch you up on the Chicago news you need to know. Sign up for the weekly Chicago Catch-Up newsletter here.
To check some of the bigger changes, see our roundup below.
New Student School Helpline
Passed in May, the Student Confidential Reporting Act, establishes a program where officials from schools, the state and Illinois State Police can receive reports and other information regarding the potential harm or self-harm of students or school employees.
The Safe2Help helpline will involve a toll-free telephone number and other means of communication allowing messages and information to be given to operators.
Details on the helpline can be found here.
The CROWN Act
The Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair Act, also known as the CROWN Act, is an amendment to the Illinois Human Rights Act and aims to further combat discrimination in the state. According to the General Assembly, the bill "provides that 'race,' as used in the Employment Article, includes traits historically associated with race, including, but not limited to, hair texture and protective hairstyles such as braids, locks, and twists."
Illinois' New State Snake
Under an amendment to the state's Designation Act, the Eastern Milksnake will become the official snake of the state of Illinois.
According to the Department of Natural Resources, the milksnake can be found across Illinois, as it lives in fields, woodlands, rocky hillsides and river bottoms and hibernates in "small mammal burrows."
"The milksnake kills prey by constriction. When disturbed, it will vibrate the tail rapidly, hiss and strike," according to the DNR.
It got its name because at one time people falsely thought it could milk cows, the DNR reported.
New Smoke Detector Rules
Beginning Jan. 1, the state's Smoke Detector Act will be changed to state that any smoke detectors must have a "self-contained, non-removable, long term battery."
The change was approved in 2017, but did not take effect until Jan. 1, 2023.
According to the Illinois Fire Safety Alliance, which worked with the General Assembly to pass the change, it applies to "residents that are still using alarms with removable batteries or alarms that are not hardwired."
There are a couple of exceptions, however.
According to the bill, the battery requirements do not apply to fire alarms, smoke detectors, smoke alarms, or other components "electronically connected to specified alarm systems," which use a low-power radio frequency wireless communication signal, Wi-Fi or any other wireless local networking capability.
The change also will not apply to "dwelling units and hotels within municipalities with a population over 1,000,000 inhabitants."
Smoke alarms in homes built after 1988 that have battery-powered detectors can leave them in until they exceed 10 years from their manufacturing date, unless they fail to respond to tests or malfunction, according to officials.
Those in violation of the law after Jan. 1, 2023 will have 90 days to change their smoke detectors or risk being assessed a fine of up to $100, which can be applied every 30 days until the violation if rectified, up to $1,500.
Read more here.
Illinois Minimum Wage
The minimum wage in Illinois will be going up in the new year.
Starting Jan. 1, 2023, minimum wage in the state will rise from $12 an hour to $13 an hour.
For workers who regularly earn tips, the rate will increase to $7.80, however, the state says "these workers must still earn the minimum wage after receiving tips, or the employer is required to make up the difference."
Workers under 18 who work fewer than 650 hours a year will also earn a minimum wage of $10.50 per hour beginning Jan. 1.
The minimum wage increase is part of an annual rise set to continue through 2025.
No Fines for Carjacking Victims
As carjackings continue to rise across Illinois, lawmakers approved a bill in the spring that makes it so "a person shall not be liable for violations, fees, fines, or penalties during the period in which the motor vehicle was reported to the appropriate law enforcement agency as stolen or hijacked."
In order to be reimbursed for fees paid after the vehicle was reported stolen or hijacked, such as for impounding fees, "the owner or the agents of the owner or lessee must submit proof that a report concerning the motor vehicle was filed with a law enforcement agency in a timely manner."
Still, towing and storage fees can only be reimbursed up to a maximum of $1,000.
Family Bereavement Leave Act
The Family Bereavement Leave Act expands unpaid leave rights for employees across the state, officials said. It marks "an amendment to the Child Bereavement Leave Act (CBLA) that expands leave time requirements to cover pregnancy loss, failed adoptions or surrogacy agreements, unsuccessful reproductive procedures, and other diagnoses or events negatively impacting pregnancy or fertility."
The act also requires employers to give leave time after the loss of family members previously not covered in the Child Bereavement Leave Act, such as spouses, domestic partners, siblings, grandparents and stepparents.
Under the act, employees can take up to two weeks, or 10 working days, of unpaid leave time to "grieve, to attend a funeral, or to make arrangements necessitated by the death of the family member."
The act does allow employers to require "reasonable documentation" to prove that an employee's request is for a covered event covered by the act, but employees do not have to identify the specific event that qualifies them for the leave. The documentation can include things like death certificates, published obituaries, and documentation from an adoption or surrogacy organization.
“Workers who experience the death of a loved one or other kinds of loss such as a miscarriage or a failed adoption should be able to grieve without the fear of losing their job,” Illinois Department of Labor Acting Director Jane Flanagan said in a statement. “The Family Bereavement Leave Act ensures that those workers will be afforded time off from work to process that grief.”
New Penalties for School Zone Driving Violations
This new law will add community service as a penalty for failing to stop for a school bus that is "receiving or discharging pupils and has displayed visual signals," or for speeding in excess of 20 miles per hour or more in a school zone or while traveling on a roadway on public school property or where children pass to go to and from school.
Task Force on Missing and Murdered Chicago Women Act
This new law will create a task force that will examine "the systemic causes behind violence that Chicago women and girls experience." It also will look at "appropriate methods for tracking and collecting data on violence against Chicago women and girls, including data on missing and murdered Chicago women and girls" and will create new policies and practices "that impact violence against Chicago women and girls and the investigation and prosecution of crimes of gender-related violence against Chicago residents."
The task force will work to compile data surrounding many of these crimes and will be required to report its findings to the General Assembly and the governor.
Sports License Plate Changes
Under new Illinois Vehicle Code, the Secretary of State will be required to offer those seeking professional sports teams license plates the option to display the logo of the Chicago Sky, Chicago Fire or the Chicago Red Stars. It also removes the option to add the logo of the St. Louis Rams.
Mental Health in State's Health Education Curriculum
This new law says that Illinois' "Comprehensive Health Education Program" must include information and education about how and where to find mental health resources and specialized treatment in the state.
The bill also creates a mental health council that works to figure out how to help students find a mental health provider, how to access the mental health system, and puts lessons and teachings about mental health into school curriculums.
Latex Glove Ban Act
Beginning Jan. 1, any food service establishment will be required to ban latex gloves in the preparation and handling of food. It also prohibits such gloves by emergency personnel. Health care workers will be required to ban the gloves after Jan. 1, 2024.
"If latex gloves must be used in the preparation of food due to a crisis that interrupts a food service establishment's ability to source nonlatex gloves, a sign shall be prominently placed at the point of order or point of purchase clearly notifying the public of the temporary change," the law states.
Full list of new laws can be found here.
Benefits Navigator For Higher Education Students
House Bill 4201 states that the Board of Trustees for Illinois' public universities and community colleges must designate a "benefits navigator" who can assist students determine benefit eligibility and how to apply, as well as identify "campus wide and community resource support."
The bill also states that universities must develop an internal process that allows students to provide feedback on how the school can better assist students in "determining eligibility for benefit programs and applying for assistance under benefit programs."
Changes to Illinois Vehicle Code
Under this new law, Illinois Vehicle Code is amended to add that a licensed physical therapist "can verify that a person is a person with disabilities."
Schools Must Teach About Safe Gun Storage
This new law states that "safe gun storage" instruction must be added to the state's safety education curriculum in "all grades."
The state's current safety instruction covers topics like automobile safety, traffic regulations and the consequences of alcohol.
New Drivers Education Curriculum
Under this bill, the course content and learning standards for drivers education will instead be based on the national Novice Teen Driver Education and Training Administrative Standards. This will replace the current structure, which requires the State Board of Education, in consultation with the Secretary of State, to adopt standards for those under the age of 18.
Now, the national novice teen driving course will be adapted to meet Illinois licensing and education requirements, "including classroom and behind-the-wheel hours and the cognitive, physiological, and psychological aspects of the safe operation of a motor vehicle and equipment of motor vehicles." The guidelines were developed and written by the Association of National Stakeholders in Traffic Safety Education, in affiliation with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, according to the bill.
“We hope the newly adopted national drivers ed standards will lead to safer driving practices among young drivers and we will see a decrease in motor vehicle crashes in the coming years," Northcutt said.
Sweet Corn Appreciation Day
Most of the sweet corn production in the United States occurs in the upper Midwest, with the state of Illinois providing “an optimal setting for growing sweet corn with its deep fertile soils, moderate rainfall and temperate weather,” according to lawmakers.
As a result, Aug. 1 has been designated “Sweet Corn Appreciation Day” in Illinois, to celebrate the food’s importance to agriculture, and to recognize family farmers.
Unsurprisingly, the state grain of Illinois is corn. The state’s official snack food is popcorn, and its state vegetable is sweet corn. More information on state symbols can be found on the Illinois Department of Natural Resources website.
New Official State Rock
Dolostone has been officially designated as Illinois’ official state rock after Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a bill into law in June.
Students from Pleasantdale Middle School in suburban Burr Ridge and Maplebrook Elementary School in Naperville helped to push for the designation.
Dolostone is a sedimentary rock made of the mineral dolomite. It makes up the majority of bedrock in the state of Illinois, and helps provide nutrients to soil, according to geologists.
Apprenticeship and Internship Pilot Program
The Act to the Job Training Assistance and Support Services Pilot Program Act will create a five-year pilot program aimed at offering assistance and support services, like transportation help or child care subsidies, to eligible people who may have otherwise struggled to complete an apprenticeship or internship. The results of the pilot will then be provided to the governor by Jan. 1, 2028.
Excused Absences to Participate in a 'Civic Event'
House Bill 5488 states that any public middle or high school student will be permitted at least one "day-long excused absence from school to engage in a civic event."
According to the bill's text, a "civic event" is defined by an "event sponsored by a non-profit organization or government entity that is open to the public," and can include "an artistic or cultural performance or educational gathering that supports the mission of the sponsoring non-profit organization."
CPS High School District Boundaries
House Bill 4580 states that at least once every five years, Chicago Public Schools' high school district boundaries should be "re-evaluated based on demographics and enrollment."
Some of the factors reviewed and evaluated would include income level within boundaries, travel time and distance to school and more.
The bill states that a written report of findings from the Department of School Demographics and Planning must be submitted to the school's board and CEO, and made public on the district's website "within 30 days after its completion."
New Official State Theatre
Located within the New Salem historic site, where Abraham Lincoln once lived, is the “Theatre in the Park,” which has been officially designated as the official state theatre of Illinois.
Previously, “The Great American People Show’ held the designation as the “official state theatre of Lincoln and the American experience,” with shows focusing on Lincoln’s life and on American history, according to the University of Illinois. It ceased operations in the late 1990s.
Under new "Procurement Code" in Illinois, any state agency or institution of higher education contract prioritizes bids that offer compostable or recyclable foodware.
Under the bill, such contracts would be awarded to the lowest responsible bidder, but "an otherwise qualified bidder who will fulfill the contract through the use of compostable foodware or recyclable foodware may be given preference over other bidders unable to do so; provided that the bid is not more than 5% greater than the cost of products that are single-use plastic disposable foodware."
It also "prohibits the procurement and use of single-use plastic disposable foodware at State parks and natural areas."
Insurance Coverage Requirements
HB 04271: Requires medically-necessary breast reduction surgery to be covered by state-regulated private insurance.
HB 05254: Requires health insurance plans to cover medically-necessary hormone therapy treatments for women who have induced menopause by undergoing a hysterectomy.
HB 05318: Requires health insurance to cover annual prostate cancer screenings upon the recommendation of a doctor.
HB 05334: Requires health insurance plans to cover costs for genetic testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes to detect risks for breast and ovarian cancer if recommended by a physician.
Discounted Fees for License Plates
Another new law going into effect this weekend will provide discounts to eligible residents for their yearly license plate renewals.
Under the law, drivers who qualify for the Illinois Department on Aging’s benefit access program will only pay $10 per year to renew their plates, down from $24 previously.
Residents 65 years of age and older, or residents who are 16 and older who have disabilities, can be eligible, with income requirements also taken into consideration.
Currently, residents over the age of 65 are also eligible for discounted driver’s license renewals and free transit rides on fixed systems. You can find more details on those programs on our website.
College, Career Readiness For 6-12th Graders
HB3296 states that school boards must, no later than July 1, 2025, establish a career and technical education pathway program for students in grades 6 through 12.
The bill goes on to say that that the framework must "prepare students enrolled in grades 6 through 12 to make informed plans and decisions about their future education and career goals, including possible participation in a career and technical education pathway, by providing students with opportunities to explore a wide variety of high-skill, high-wage, and in-demand career fields."
Discounted Fees for Certain Car Registrations
This piece of legislation provides a one-time vehicle registration discount of $25 if a new vehicle or truck if it was manufactured in the state of Illinois.
School Board Members Must Be 'Trauma-Informed'
Beginning in the 2023-2024 school year, in addition to at least four hours of required leadership training and professional development in education labor law, financial oversight and accountability, and fiducial responsibility of a school board member, this new law states that school board members and superintendents must also complete a State Board of Education course in trauma-informed practices for students and staff.
According to the bill, the training may include, but is not limited to, the recognition of and care for trauma among students and staff, the effects of trauma on student behavior and learning, the prevalence of trauma among students and those at higher risk of experiencing trauma, and more.
Program For Students to Work in the Intellectual, Developmental Disabilities Field
This new law modifies the current school code by adding that beginning in the 2025-26 school year, the State Board of Education must create a program for high school students to work in the intellectual and developmental disabilities field in an educational setting.
The Milwaukee Avenue Polish Heritage Corridor
Under terms of this bill, a section of Milwaukee Avenue will now be designated as the Milwaukee Avenue Polish Heritage Corridor.
That designation applies to a stretch of Route 21 that goes from Sangamon Street in Chicago, and ends at Greenwood road in suburban Niles.
Plaques may be erected by the Department of Transportation to celebrate the designation, according to officials.