New year, new laws
Hundreds of new laws will take effect today in Illinois, including measures sponsored by Senate Democrats that garnered bipartisan support in the Legislature and were signed into law by the state’s Republican governor.
Among the new laws are efforts to address gender bias, eliminate government bureaucracy, protect workers and taxpayers, and address problems brought to the Legislature’s attention by constituents back home.
Read on to learn more about 10 new laws for 2017.
Pink tax repealed – Because of legislation sponsored by Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake), Illinois no longer will tax the sale of essential women’s health products, such as tampons, pads and menstrual cups, as “luxury items.” Bush called the repeal the beginning of a conversation about unfair taxes imposed upon women. Illinois joined a handful of other states in abolishing the tax in 2016.
Police dog adoptions – Law enforcement officers will be given first preference to adopt their retiring police dogs in an effort to ensure the animals can remain a part of the officer’s family. Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) sponsored the legislation and said it is important to honor the special bond between officers and their canine partners.
Spotting domestic violence – Cosmetologists, nail technicians and hair braiders will be trained to look for signs of domestic violence and sexual assault among their clients under legislation sponsored by Senator Bill Cunningham (D-Chicago). In an interview with the New York Times, Cunningham said salons are a safe space where women may confide their troubles or unburden themselves, and the workers should know how to respond.
Birth control coverage – Illinois insurance companies will be required to cover most contraceptives for up to 12 months at a time. Senator Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights), who sponsored the legislation, noted that for many women contraception plays a key role in their overall health care, and they shouldn’t be hindered by burdensome government intrusion.
Low-wage non-compete agreements – Workers in jobs that pay less than $13.50 per hour, such as sandwich shop employees, no longer can be subjected to non-compete clauses by the companies that employ them. The legislation’s sponsor, Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago), said non-compete clauses make sense in some cases, but not for low-wage sandwich makers.
Ending pension abuse – Lobbyists no longer will be eligible for expensive taxpayer-funded pensions under legislation sponsored by Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood). The measure corrects a loophole in state law that allowed lobbyists, such as the former director of the Illinois Association of Park Districts, to enjoy a $245,000 annual pension through the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund.
Protecting patients’ rights – An update to Illinois’ Health Care Right of Conscience law aims to ensure that medical patients – women in particular – receive better information about their health care options from medical providers who treat them. Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston), who sponsored the legislation, said the change enables Illinois to restore some balance to the patient-doctor relationship in Illinois.
Sick time flexibility – Workers in Illinois will be able to use up to half of their allotted sick time to care for or tend to the needs of sick family members under a measure sponsored by Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago). Most Illinois employers that provide sick time only allow workers to use it to care for themselves.
Lead contamination – Notice of lead contamination in buildings will have to be provided to incoming tenants or new owners until the problem is mitigated under a measure sponsored by Senator Donne Trotter (D-Chicago). Older homes are more likely to contain lead, and children who live in them are more susceptible to lead poisoning – a problem that is gaining attention in communities throughout Illinois.
Cash bail – Law enforcement officials will be required to accept cash for bail under a new law that was prompted by a constituent concern in Rockford. In that case, a teenager was kept in jail for a minor offense for an entire weekend because the credit card machine at the jail did not work. The teen’s father took his concerns to Senator Steve Stadelman (D-Rockford), who advanced legislation to address the problem.
Slideshow presentation: New laws for 2017
In the news: Say goodbye to 'tampon tax,' hello to pitchfork fishing in Illinois
In the news: 17 new Illinois laws for 2017
In case you missed it
MEMBERS IN THE NEWS
Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, Shorewood: Bertino-Tarrant celebrates holidays with Joliet area seniors (Herald-News, Joliet)
Senator Daniel Biss, Evanston: Legislators want full impact study on proposed freight track (Journal & Topics Newspapers, Chicago)
Senator Gary Forby, Benton: Decades later, mine explosion continues to haunt community (WSIL-TV, Carterville)
Senator Bill Haine, Alton: Haine discuss benefits extension for area steelworkers (riverbender.com)
Senator Dave Koehler, Peoria: Democratic lawmakers push for measure to support home care workers (Peoria Public Radio)
Senator Andy Manar, Bunker Hill: Manar calls for compromise (Alton Daily News)
Senator Martin Sandoval, Chicago: First specialty plate in the nation supporting Alzheimer’s coming to Illinois (Lawndale News)
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