Two hundred and thirty-seven new laws will go into effect in Illinois for 2016, starting January 1. That is forty more laws than last year.
There are laws in several different categories, including: animal cruelty, hunting, business, children, consumers, law enforcement, education, and more. One of the most notable laws tackles body cameras for law enforcement, setting new rules and guidelines. With police violence being a nationally discussed – and debated – topic, this law shows great initiative by Illinois.
Also, Illinois has shown great progress in the number of new laws aimed toward protecting members of the LGBT community, including prohibiting conversion therapy for minors.
The welfare of pets (especially dogs and cats) features largely in this set of laws. At least three laws have been dedicated to animal cruelty and welfare. This includes a law against keeping your pets outside in extreme temperatures where their lives may be in danger.
It’s important to take note of this list, because claiming you didn’t know the law won’t get you out of trouble.
Here are some of the new laws:
- Animal Cruelty Fines (HB 3231/PA 99-0357): Provides that, in addition to any other penalty provided by law, a person who is convicted of a specified cruel treatment of animals violation upon a companion animal in the presence of a child shall be subject to a fine of $250 and ordered to perform community service for not less than 100 hours.
- Animal Welfare Owner ID (HB 4029/PA 99-0310): Requires animal control facilities to check for microchips and other ID means to determine owner. If an owner is identified, the facility must contact via mail at least seven business days before transfer, foster home, or euthanasia. Before transfer, foster home, or euthanasia the facility is required to check a second time for microchip and make sure original information obtained, if any, was correct.
- Humane Care for Animals (SB 125/PA 99-0311): States that, “No owner of a dog or cat may expose the dog or cat in a manner that places the dog or cat in a life-threatening situation for a prolonged period of time in extreme heat or cold conditions.”
- Youth Hunting License Age (HB 3234/PA 99-0307): Raises age cap for youth hunting licenses from 16 to 18.
- Child-Care Employee Vaccination Requirement (SB 986/PA 99-0267): Mandates any child-care facility that cares for children ages 6 and younger to require child-care employees to provide proof of two doses of the Measles Mumps and Rubella (MMR) Vaccine or provide proof of immunity. Also requires child-care employees to show proof of having received the tetanus, diptheria and pertussis vaccine (Tdap).
- Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Changes (SB 1571/PA 99-0031): Provides that nothing in the Act may be construed to require an employer or a property and casualty insurer to reimburse a person for costs associated with the medical use of cannabis.
- Child Welfare Agencies (SB 13/ PA 99-0346): Changes the duties and membership of the current Children and Family Services Advisory Council to improve monitoring standards for DCFS-licensed childcare facilities and review calls and reports of abuse/neglect investigations.
- Conversion Therapy (HB 217/PA 99-0411): Prohibits mental health providers from engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with a person younger than age 18. Prohibits advertising that represents homosexuality as a mental disease, disorder or illness, and provides that violation is an unlawful practice under the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act. Codifies that a provider who engages in sexual orientation efforts may be subject to discipline by the licensing entity or disciplinary review board with competent jurisdiction.
- Parentage Act of 2015 (HB 1531/PA 99-0085): Comprehensive re-write of Illinois parentage law. The Illinois Parentage Act of 2015 is created to guide establishment of a parent-child relationship, to authorize genetic testing, to establish procedures regarding parentage of a child of assisted reproduction, and to provide for establishment of child support obligations. The Illinois Parentage Act and the Illinois Parentage Act of 1984 are repealed.
- Child Abuse by Professionals (SB 1763/ PA 99-0350): Clarifies definitions to include situations where a person who is acting in a professional capacity abuses or neglects a child.
- Body Cameras (SB 1304/PA 99-0352): Establishes rules and regulations for the use of officer-worn body cameras and implements a package of police reforms. Police reforms: Prohibits police from using chokeholds, except when deadly force is justified; requires an independent review of officer-involved deaths, and makes investigation reports part of the public record if an officer involved in a death is not charged with a crime; expands police officer training to include topics like use of force; creates a database of officers who have been fired or resigned due to misconduct. Body camera regulations: The bill does not require police departments to use body cameras. If they choose to do so, officers must keep their cameras on when conducting law enforcement activities. Officers would be allowed to turn the camera off when talking to a confidential informant, or at the request of a victim or witness. The bill requires officers to let people know they are recording if they enter a home. Videos will be kept for 90 days, unless flagged for specific reasons. The bill allows for grants via a $5 fee increase for each $40 on criminal and traffic offenses, to go toward cameras and new training.
- Court Supervision for Aggravated Speeding (HB 1453/PA 99-0212): Provides that a defendant charged with speeding 26 miles per hour or more in excess of the applicable speed limit may be eligible for court supervision if the defendant has not been previously convicted for a similar offense or previously assigned court supervision for a similar offense.
- Domestic Violence Sentencing Consideration (SB 209/PA 99-0384): Adds a history of domestic violence to the list of mitigating factors for judges to consider during sentencing. Creates a process for courts to review petitions for re-sentencing for certain offenses committed by a victim of domestic violence who was unable to present evidence of domestic violence at trial.
- False 9-1-1 Call (HB 3988/PA 99-0160 – Sen. Michael Connelly): Requires reimbursement where a person makes a false 9-1-1 call knowing there is no reasonable ground for making the call or transmission and further knows that the call or transmission could result in the emergency response of any public safety agency. Caps reimbursement at $10,000.
- First Responder Assault Penalties (HB 3184/PA 99-0256): Enhances the penalty for aggravated assault of a peace officer, fireman, emergency management worker, or emergency medical technician.
- Good Conduct Sentencing Credit (HB 3884/PA 99-0241): Gives an additional 30 days of sentence credit to any prisoner who passes their high school equivalency testing while in the Department of Corrections or while they are being held in pre-trial detention (county jail) prior to the current commitment to the Department of Corrections.
- Juries – Removal and Disability (HB 3704/PA 99-0102): Provides additional means of establishing a total and permanent disability for purposes of a prospective juror seeking a permanent exclusion from jury service (an individualized education program plan or proof of a guardianship).
- Lifetime Sentences for Juveniles (HB 2471/PA 99-0069): Aligns Illinois’s criminal statutes with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that found automatic mandatory life sentences for juveniles to be unconstitutional. Grants judges leeway to determine whether such a sentence is warranted and allows judges to lengthen or shorten a sentence depending on whether a firearm or automatic weapon was used in a capital crime.
- Minors in Detention Facilities (HB 2567/PA 99-0254): Prohibits a delinquent minor younger than age 13 from being admitted, kept, or detained in a detention facility unless a local youth service provider has first been contacted and is not able to accept the minor.
- Powdered Alcohol Ban (SB 67/PA 99-0051): Prohibits the sale of products consisting of or containing powdered alcohol in Illinois by creating a Class A misdemeanor for a violation and a Class 4 felony for a second or subsequent violations.
- Sexual Abuse (SB 207/PA 99-0283): Makes it an aggravating factor in sentencing for certain sex offenses committed against a victim with an intellectual disability and the defendant holds a position of trust, authority or supervision in relation to the victim.
- Synthetic Drug Classification (SB 1129/PA 99-0371): Gives law enforcement a new tool in combating the sale, distribution and possession of synthetic drugs by banning their underlying chemical structure.
- Student Teacher Background Checks (SB 706/PA 99-0021): Student teacher applicants must submit to a finger print analysis that is performed by the Illinois State Police and FBI. Additionally, school districts must verify that the applicant is not on the sex offender, child murderer or violent offender against youth registries. The requirements apply to all non-profit, for-profit and regular elementary and secondary school districts.
There are only a few of the new laws, mostly focused around law enforcement. A complete, easy-to-read list can be found here.