New year brings new laws on the books


Despite the perceived political dysfunction in Springfield, legislators managed to add more than 200 laws on the books during the 2018 legislative session.

It was not all brand new legislation as some actions were amendments or clarifying language to existing statutes.

Here, and not in any particular order, are some of the new state laws that became effective Jan. 1:

Rear facing car seats: all children under the age of two must be secured in a rear-facing child restraint system while traveling in a motor vehicle. Children who are more than 40-inches tall or exceed 40 pounds in weight are exempt from the rear-facing requirement but still must be secured in another type of car seat. The change does not absolve drivers of making sure all juvenile passengers are in age appropriate car seats or, if suitable, using a vehicle’s standard safety harness.

Urban Ag Zones: Municipalities can create urban agriculture zones that offer tax incentives to businesses involved with qualified agricultural products. Local utilities may also offer wholesale or reduced rates for businesses in urban agriculture zones. This became law after the legislature overrode a veto.

Animal protection: A law enforcement officer may take temporary custody of an animal that is in danger from extreme heat or cold conditions, but the officer must attempt to make contact with the owner prior to seizing the animal for safekeeping. The law also fixes responsibility with an animal’s owner for any veterinary care associated with the seizure.

Reckless dog owner: Allows the courts to confiscate dogs from reckless owners for up to 36 months for a first violation and sets fines for each animal found in their care.

Cat/Dog breeder classification: Anyone who has possession of a minimum of five female cats or dogs capable of reproduction is now classified as an animal breeder rather than a kennel operator. This was a language clarification in the law.

Blaze pink: Hunters are no longer limited in their fashion choices to a bright orange. Blaze pink is now legal to wear during the firearm deer season and the upland games season.

72-hour waiting period: Creates a 72-hour waiting period for all firearms purchases, not just handguns, and eliminates the current exemption from the waiting period for firearms sold to a non-Illinois resident at a recognized gun show.

Firearms restraining order: Family members or law enforcement may petition the court for an order alleging a person poses a significant danger of causing injury to self or others by possession and control of a firearm. The order may be issued without notice to the respondent but a full hearing must be held within 14 days. The courts can issue two orders – emergency and six months orders in cases where the evidence is of a clear and convincing of danger. The court may issue a search warrant for law enforcement to seize weapons if there is probable cause to believe the respondent possesses weapons.

Pregnant detainees: Requires the court to release a pregnant pre-trial detainee if the detainee is likely to give birth while in custody. The court may waive this requirement if a hearing shows release poses a threat to a victim or the public. A pregnant or post-partum detainee may be required to wear an electronic monitoring device as a condition of pre-trial release.

Bail: A law requiring the court to grant a $30 per day credit toward bail for those held in pre-trial custody may be denied to an individual arrested for failure to appear on the original charge. Unclaimed bail deposits currently held by counties will be transferred to the state treasurer as unclaimed property.

Frail individual protection: Establishes procedure for family members to secure court ordered visitation if a family caregiver unreasonably prevents other family members from seeing a frail elderly individual.

Public lactation room: Requires every facility that houses a circuit court to designate by June 1 a space in the building as a public lactation room equipped with a chair, a table, an electric outlet and where possible a sink and running water. The lactation space cannot be in a restroom.

Nursing mom jury duty: Exempts nursing mothers from jury service.

Physical fitness contracts: Prohibits contracts for basic physical fitness services to exceed $2,500 per year and requires contracts to be in writing. Another change in the law prohibits gym memberships greater than one year.

Medication disposal: This change targets situations where unused medications, including medical opioids, are present following a death. It permits police officers and nurses to dispose of liquid medications found at a death scene.

Civilian employee ticketing: Allows civilian employees of the Illinois State Police to write tickets for excess size and weight permits.

Citations: A person in violation of a petty offense is no longer required to sign a paper citation for it to be valid. This is a cost saving and paper saving measure.

Name change notice for abuse victims: Allows victims of domestic violence to waive the publication requirement when petitioning for a name change in order to keep the victims’ addresses private.

Stalking: Expands the definition of stalking to include social media messages and allows the authorized agent of a workplace, place of worship or a school to seek a petition for protection.

DUI sentencing: Driving the wrong way on a one-way street is now an aggravating factor when sentencing a person for driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs or intoxicating compounds.

Mental health awareness: requires licensed school personnel who work with K-12 students to be trained every two years to identify warning signs of mental illness and suicidal behavior.

Safety Drills: Requires active shooter/threat school safety drills within the first 90 days of the start of the school year. The drills must be done on days when students are present and requires the participation of all students and school personnel present. Law enforcement is also required to observe the drill.

School board vacancy: If a school board has to fill a vacancy due to a lack of candidates for election in a congressional township, the school board must put a proposition on the ballot of the next general election to elect school board members at large.

Controlled substance prescribers: Requires licensed prescribers of controlled substances to complete three hours of continuing education regarding safe opioid prescribing practices prior to renewing a prescription license.

Stage 4 cancer drugs: Prohibits insurance companies from limiting or excluding coverage for a drug used to treat stage 4 metastatic cancer by first making the patient either try and successfully respond to another drug or prove history of failure to the other drug.

Public employee severance: Sets severance pay conditions for government employees. Severance pay may not exceed more than 20 weeks of salary. Compensation and severance pay is prohibited if the employee was fired for misconduct.

Broadband advisory council: The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity is tasked with creating a Broadband Advisory Council to explore ways to expand broadband access throughout the state, including unserved areas.

Quincy Veterans Home: The Department of Veterans Affairs is to purchase a nursing home in Quincy for the purpose of housing veterans.