By Erin Sanson
The New Year means new laws will be going into effect on Sun. Jan. 1 in Illinois. This year there are almost 200 new laws going into effect from revisions to the criminal justice system to vehicles law changes and changes to employment laws and programs.
One of the most discussed and debated laws to change in 2023 is the SAFE-T Act, specifically the provision to end cash bail, which advocates of the bill said keeps the poor in jail, even on minor offenses due to an inability to make bail while those with money can pay to be released from jail, even with more serious charges.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed amendments to the bill earlier this month, expanding the list of detainable offenses, including some non-violent offenses. Several controversial elements of the bill were clarified, including that police do have the ability to arrest someone for trespassing and judges can issue warrants when someone misses court. The SAFE-T Act also establishes new or clarifies police conduct. By 2025, all Illinois Police Officers will be required to wear body cameras. A system to file an anonymous complaint about an officer has been created and more training for law enforcement is required. Several Illinois law enforcement agencies argued the provisions would embolden criminals but after the amended bill was signed Law Enforcement groups such as the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police and the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police did not express opposition as they had with the previous versions of the bill.
Lawsuits over the SAFE-T Act’s constitutionality have been filed by multiple State’s Attorneys throughout Illinois and the judge for the case hopes to have announced a verdict by Dec. 28.
Workers Rights Amendment
Illinois Voters just passed the Workers Rights Amendment in the November Mid-Term Election which codifies the right of Government Employees to organize and collectively bargain over employment terms.
Supporters of the amendment say it ensures workers will always be able to use collective bargaining to secure better pay, hours and working conditions. It is also supposed to be able to prevent the legislature from enacting a so-called right-to-work law that would allow workers covered by union contracts to not pay dues.
The new year will bring an increase in wages to some Illinoisans in minimum wage positions. The minimum wage will increase to $13 on Jan. 1, a $1 increase from the current minimum wage. The increase is the result of a law signed by Pritzker in Jan. 2019 which will raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by Jan. 1, 2025.
The new wage does not apply to all workers in minimum wage positions as those who receive tips will have their base pay increased to $7.80 an hour and those younger than 18 who work less than 650 hours a year will see an increase to $10.50.
Motor Fuel Taxes
Also in 2019, Pritzker signed a $45 billion transportation and capital improvements bill known as “Rebuild Illinois,” which is partially funded by higher motor fuel taxes which are supposed to increase, with inflation, each year. The adjusted tax is supposed to take effect on July 1 of each year, the first day of Illinois’ Fiscal Year. Last Spring Illinois lawmakers authorized a six-month delay in the increase to motor fuel taxes due to rising inflation and a healthy State budget. On Jan. 1 the freeze is over and the motor fuel tax will increase by 3.1 cents per gallon and increase again on July 1, 2023.
Three new laws taking effect Jan. 1 are intended to address a spike in carjackings around the state.
One, House Bill No. 601, expands the crime of possession of burglary tools to include possession, with the intention to enter and steal a vehicle, of devices to unlock or start a vehicle without the key to that vehicle, or devices that capture or duplicate a signal from a key fob to unlock or start the vehicle.
House Bill No. 3699 expands an existing state council charged with providing grants and financial support to law enforcement agencies to aid in identifying, apprehending and prosecuting carjackers and recovering stolen vehicles.
The third bill, House Bill No. 3772 ensures victims of carjackings are not responsible for violations, fees, fines or penalties when their vehicles are caught on red light or speeding cameras. Owners would also not be responsible for the costs and fines associated with impounding a vehicle that was stolen or hijacked, provided the owner files a police report in a timely manner.
Several new criminal laws will go into effect Jan. 1, including three that deal with sex offenses.
One of those prevents people who solicit sex from a minor or a person with a severe or profound intellectual disability from asserting a defense that they simply did not know the person was underage or intellectually disabled. House Bill No. 4593, signed into law in May, puts the burden of proof on the defendant that they did not know the age or disability status of the other person.
Another new law changes the definition of when a person is “unable to give knowing consent.” Under current law, a person cannot give knowing consent when the accused person “administers any intoxicating or anesthetic substance or any controlled substance” that causes the victim to lose consciousness of the nature of the act.
House Bill No. 5441 broadens that definition to include when the victim has taken any intoxicating or controlled substance causing them to lose consciousness of the nature of the act, even if the substances were administered by someone else.
Another bill, Senate Bill No. 3019, expands certain employment restrictions that apply to convicted child sex offenders. Currently, they are prohibited from being employed by, or even being present at, child day care centers, schools that provide before- and after-school programs for children or any facility that provides programs or services exclusively for people under age 18.
This bill expands restrictions to prohibit convicted child sex offenders from working at carnivals, amusement enterprises, county fairs and the State Fair when people under age 18 are present.
Another new law expands the list of professionals who are required to report suspicions of child abuse or neglect. Starting Jan. 1, under Senate Bill No. 3833, occupational therapists and assistants, physical therapists and assistants, and athletic trainers will be added to that list.
Substitute Teacher Shortage
In response to the shortage of substitute teachers in Illinois, a bill was passed in April allowing students enrolled in approved teacher training programs who have earned at least 90 credit hours to obtain a substitute teaching license. Previously applicants had to hold a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited institution to receive a substitute teachers license.
Other Laws Passed
Safer Food Prep (HB 209)
This law bans latex gloves for the use of handling and preparing food, as well as for emergency responders like paramedics, making it safer for people with latex allergies to eat and to receive emergency medical care.
Electronic Orders of Protection (SB 3667)
To better protect survivors of abuse, this law allows anyone to file for a protective order at any time by email or online as well as in person. It also requires counties with populations above 250,000 to offer the option of a remote hearing.
Made In Illinois (SB 3609)
People who own vehicles that were manufactured in Illinois will be able to apply for a small break on their registration fees. This bill allows those drivers to apply for a one-time $25 rebate “if the vehicle is manufactured in this state and the application for title is made no more than one year after the month in which the vehicle was manufactured.”
Starting Jan. 1, deer hunters in Illinois will have a new option for the type of firearm they use. House Bill 4386 authorizes the use of single-shot centerfire rifles. Before, only shotguns, handguns and muzzleloading rifles were allowed.
Illinois will have two new official state symbols, effective Jan. 1. House Bill No. 4821 establishes the eastern milksnake as the official state snake. That was an initiative of Gentry Heiple, a snake enthusiast and Carterville Junior High School seventh grader. Dolostone will be the official state rock as established by House Bill No. 4261. That was an initiative of a group of students from Pleasantdale Middle School and Maplebrook Elementary School.
Streamlining ID of missing persons (SB 3932)
Driven by the death of Jelani Day, Senate Bill No. 3932 requires a coroner or medical examiner to notify the FBI if human remains in their custody are not identified within 72 hours of discovery.
Guaranteed Bereavement Time
Illinois is expanding its definition of bereavement to include miscarriages, failed adoptions, and unsuccessful fertility procedures. It is also adding more relationships to deaths in the family to what is legally covered for bereavement, including spouses, siblings, grandparents and stepparents.
The state guarantees employees have the right to at least 10 unpaid days off to properly grieve in these circumstances.
Crown Act (SB 3616)
Expanding on the anti-discrimination law that went into effect in 2021 and applies to schools, this law changes the Illinois Human Rights Act to include traits associated with race, such as hair texture and protective hairstyles like braids, locks and twists to combat hair discrimination in the workplace.
Helping Women Afford Treatment (HB 5254)
In order to prevent osteoporosis and other medical conditions, this law requires health insurance plans to cover medically necessary hormone therapy treatments for women who have undergone a hysterectomy and therefore induced menopause.
Another law, HB No. 4271, requires state-regulated private insurance to cover medically necessary breast reduction surgery.
Senior Vehicle Registration (HB 5304)
To ensure senior citizens are saving their money, this law reduces the vehicle registration fee for seniors from $24 to $10.
A complete list of the new laws going into effect on Jan. 1, 2023 can be found online at https://www.illinoissenatedemocrats.com/images/PDFS/2022/bills-taking-effect-2023.pdf.