Bail, Breastfeeding, Bicycles: 40 New Illinois Laws Taking Effect in 2018

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The Bail Reform Act creates new rights for people arrested for a non-violent crime, particularly when it comes to posting bail. The new law aims to shift the focus of decisions surrounding defendants’ pre-trial release from their ability to afford bail, to their threat to public safety or flight risk. Senate Bill 2034 gives low-level offenders the right to a rehearing of their bail amount if they can’t come up with the cash. It also establishes a presumption that any bail set in connection with a non-violent crime should not be monetary, but could be electronic monitoring, curfews, drug counseling and more.
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Senate Bill 1722, known as the Safe Neighborhoods Reform Act, makes a number of changes to the criminal justice system, namely, strengthening sentencing guidelines for repeat gun offenders, expanding probation eligibility for first-time drug offenders, giving the Illinois Department of Corrections more discretion in awarding sentencing credit, and more. The measure, long championed by Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson, was passed in an effort to combat violent crime, safely reduce the prison population, and work to keep non-violent offenders out of prison.
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One of the more high-profile measures signed into law this year was House Bill 40, which will allow the state to cover abortions for its employees and Medicaid recipients, as well as protect access to abortion in Illinois should the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing it be overturned.
Public schools will have to provide accommodations for nursing mothers on campus under House Bill 2369. Accommodations include, but aren’t limited to, access to a private and secure room other than a restroom to breastfeed or express breast milk, permission to bring a breast pump and any equipment onto campus, access to a power source for their pump, and a place to safely store breast milk. Students who are lactating must also be provided time to breast feed, must be given the opportunity to make up any work missed during breast feeding, and cannot be penalized academically for it.
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2018 will be the first year that Illinois observes “Barack Obama Day.” The newest state holiday will be celebrated each year on Aug. 4, the 44th president's birthday. The holiday will be "observed throughout the State as a day set apart to honor the 44th President of the United States of America who began his career serving the People of Illinois in both the Illinois State Senate and the United States Senate, and dedicated his life to protecting the rights of Americans and building bridges across communities," Senate Bill 55 reads. "Barack Obama Day" joins other commemorative holidays like Adlai Stevenson Day, Ronald Reagan Day and Jane Addams Day, for which workplaces do not close.
House Bill 1805, also known as the Drive for Life Act, will allow 16- and 17-year-olds to join the organ and tissue donor registry when they receive their driver’s licenses or state ID cards. Under the new law, Illinois will become the 48th state to allow teens to register as organ donors, though parents and guardians will still have the right to give or revoke consent until the donor turns 18.
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Men and women leaving a correctional facility will be able to receive their birth certificate for no fee under Senate Bill 1413. The fee of $10 for a records search and $5 for a copy of a birth certificate will be waived one time for offenders following their release from prison on parole, discharge or pardon – helping them prove their identity and find housing, employment and more, with the goal of reducing recidivism and ultimately, the prison population.
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In an effort to combat veteran suicide, Senate Bill 866 will require the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs to provide veterans with information, education and resources on service animals as an option to help cope with post-traumatic stress disorder.
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Senate Bill 883 clarifies the inheritance rights of a child born after a parent has died. Children born within 36 months of the death of a parent, who consented to the child and whose sex cells were preserved, will now be able to inherit from the deceased parent.
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The use of elephants in circuses will no longer be allowed in Illinois in 2018. A victory for animal rights activists, Senate Bill 1342 prohibits the use of elephants in any traveling acts, but does not ban them at zoos or other establishments that provide adequate living conditions. Illinois is the first state in the country to ban the controversial practice.
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Rather than simply kick out preschool-aged children, early childhood programs that receive state funding must help young students who exhibit challenging behaviors. Specifically, House Bill 2663 requires the Department of Children and Family Services to develop rules to prevent day cares and preschools from expelling preschool children and requires those institutions to refrain from expulsion in favor of intervention and community resources. If attempts to address behavior are unsuccessful, programs can transition the child to another with the parents’ permission. Schools can temporarily remove a child for safety concerns, and can rely on state agencies to give teachers and staff the tools, training and support they need to address any problematic situations.
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Already the official state vegetable of Illinois, corn has a new distinction as the state grain of the Land of Lincoln under House Bill 470.
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School districts must make feminine hygiene products available to students for free beginning in 2018. Both public and charter schools serving students in grades 6 through 12 will be required to provide tampons and sanitary napkins in bathrooms under House Bill 3215.
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One of multiple data privacy protections laws championed by organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union, House Bill 3251 makes it a crime to install or place electronic monitoring software or spyware on a person’s device in order to track and harass them. The measure expands and modernizes Illinois’ cyberstalking law in an effort to better protect victims of stalking and abuse.
House Bill 3711 expands Illinois’ Hate Crimes Act in two key ways. First, it adds cyberstalking, transmission of obscene messages and certain acts of intimidation to the list of offenses that can be prosecuted as hate crimes – those motivated by hatred based on race, religion, origin, gender identity, sexual orientation and more. It also ensures victims of all hate crimes, including harassment via telephone or electronic communications, which were previously not included, can file a civil suit in response to these kinds of incidents.
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Hair salons, barbers, dry cleaners and tailors – all businesses that studies have found may charge women more than men for the same services – will be required under Senate Bill 298 to provide customers with a price list for services upon request in an effort to expose gender-based price discrimination and help inform consumers about the practices of a business.
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Known as the “Right to Yelp” law, Senate Bill 1898 protects consumers who post critical reviews of a business online. Senate Bill 1898 prohibits businesses from including a nondisparagement clause in contracts for the sale of merchandise or services. Those clauses are typically used to dissuade customers from posting negative reviews with the threat of fees or legal action. Now, online reviews will be protected from retaliation.
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In the new year, active duty military members will be able to cancel various utilities more easily when House Bill 2449 goes into effect. When service members receive orders to relocate for a period of at least 90 days, they will now be able to terminate or suspend contracts for internet, television and cable services, athletic club or gym memberships as well as satellite radio services by simply sending a written or electronic notice to the service provider along with a copy of the official military order, rather than enduring an arduous cancellation process often accompanied with burdensome fees.
Senate Bill 314 requires insurance companies to cover breast MRIs if a mammogram detects dense breast tissue, which is a risk factor for cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.
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Emergency Medical Service professionals will be able to transport police dogs injured in the line of duty to a veterinary clinic under House Bill 2661. The measure stipulates that people requiring medical attention receive care before a police dog is transported, but first responders will now be able to take injured dogs to a clinic or similar facility.
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As a reward for good behaviour, House Bill 3712 allows the Illinois Department of Corrections to provide inmates with temporary access to content-controlled tablets for educational and visitation opportunities.
Survivors of domestic violence can continue using their cell phone plans after separating from their abusers under Senate Bill 57. As part of a petition for an order of protection, survivors can ask a judge for the right to continue to use a phone number. If granted, wireless providers will be required to give control of joint cellular accounts to the petitioner – allowing them to keep their number, contacts, etc., and removes the burden of having to pay to set up a new phone plan.
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If you’re buying or selling a car in the new year, there will soon be a new regulation on test drives. Under House Bill 733, all signs, decals, paperwork or other material in the front windshield or windows of a car that could obstruct the view must be removed before potential buyers take it for a spin. This applies to both new and used car dealers, and for vehicles that are offered both for sale or lease.
The Illinois Department of Human Services will have to collect and publicly report information on the racial and ethnic demographics of recipients of its state aid programs when House Bill 3131 goes into effect. The measure was put forth in an effort to help the government better understand the impact programs have on specific communities, particularly when looking to cut or expand those resources.
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The battle between drivers and cyclists just might improve starting in 2018. House Bill 1784 allows motorists to legally pass cyclists in no-passing zones, provided that the cyclist is traveling at less than half the speed limit and the drive can overtake the bike without exceeding the speed limit. The measure also allows bikers to ride on the shoulder of a road, and lets them use a red taillight on the rear of the bicycle instead of the previously required reflector.
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Passing regulations to help improve safety and traffic for cyclists makes sense, seeing as beginning in 2018, cycling will become the official state exercise of Illinois under House Bill 2895.
Senate Bill 1586 allows the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to designate an area within state parks or state-owned land for the scattering of cremated remains. The measure doesn’t legally require the setting aside a part of any property, so any official changes would be left to DNR officials, but it opens the door to allowing you to leave your loved ones’ ashes in the great outdoors of Illinois.
Transgender and intersex individuals will be able to change the gender marker on their birth certificates without undergoing gender reassignment surgery thanks to House Bill 1785. Illinois joins 14 other states and the federal government in passing legislation of this nature.
House Bill 2907 removes the requirement that a psychiatrist be in the same room as a patient, allowing physicians or other licensed health care professionals to offer treatment via teleconference utilizing video and electronic communications.
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Senate Bill 641 gives counties the option to use funding reserved to spay and neuter pets adopted by residents instead for the management of the feral cat population. Officials will be allowed to use animal control funds more broadly for programs that include trap, neuter, vaccinate and return (known as TNVR), a humane and minimally invasive method of controlling the cat population.
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All school districts, including Chicago Public Schools, will be required to notify qualified students in 11th and 12th grades of opportunities for dual enrolment and dual credit at public community colleges thanks to House Bill 2794.
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House Bill 3060 dictates that the $10 fee for a birth records search and $5 fee for a copy of a birth certificate be waived for all requests made by a homeless person.
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Beginning next year, cats, dogs and other pets will be treated more like children when it comes to divorce cases under Senate Bill 1261. During divorce proceedings, parties can enter into a written agreement on joint or sole custody of a pet, and the court will take into consideration the well-being of the animal in issuing an order.
Beginning in the new year, prosecutions for aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs causing death can be commenced at any time. House Bill 3084 removes the statute of limitations on DUI cases where someone was killed as a result.
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Each law enforcement agency is required to develop a written policy on the investigation of officer-involved criminal sexual assaults under House Bill 270.
Under House Bill 3419, corporations that use offshore accounts to avoid paying taxes will not be allowed to submit bids or enter into contracts with state agencies beginning in 2018 – a practice the federal government has prohibited since 2003.
If they have electronically searchable files, insurance companies will be required to look at records dating back to the year 2000 to determine if life insurance policyholders have died, and to take steps to get the money owed on those policies to the beneficiaries. Audits between 2011 and 2015 found that more than $550 million in death benefits were not paid to beneficiaries in Illinois, according to Treasurer Mike Frerichs, who advocated for the passage of the bill.
Known as the Illinois Debt Transparency Act, House Bill 3649 will require state agencies to more accurately and frequently report their unpaid bills and interest penalties. Previously, state law required agencies to report by Oct. 1 the amount of pending unpaid bills as of June 30. Now, the agencies will have to report that figure monthly, along with an estimate of interest and late fees accumulated on those bills. The measure will allow state officials and the general public to better understand Illinois’ fiscal outlook on the heels of a two-year budget impasse, during which the unpaid bill backlog more than tripled to $15.9 billion, according to Comptroller Susana Mendoza, who championed the bill.
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House Bill 736 establishes a small business grant program that will provide money to low‐income individuals on public aid who are interested in becoming entrepreneurs.
In an effort to combat the opioid epidemic, Senate Bill 772 will require doctors to check the Prescription Monitoring Program database to see if a patient has been prescribed a controlled substance by another doctor before writing that patient a prescription, making it harder for individuals to “doctor shop,” or obtain medication from multiple physicians.
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