More than 150 new laws to take effect Jan. 1

SPRINGFIELD, IL – January 1st doesn’t just mark the advent of the New Year—State Sen. Sue Rezin (R-Morris) said it is also the day more than 150 new Illinois laws take effect. While many of the measures are relatively mundane, others target serious criminal activity, increase fees, and seek to protect employee privacy.

Initially contentious legislation (HB 1645/PA 97-1035) that eventually passed the Illinois Senate unanimously will also take effect Jan. 1, creating an annual surcharge to be paid by all live adult entertainment facility operators in Illinois. Beginning Jan. 20, 2014, operators at Illinois’ adult entertainment facilities will have the option to either charge a $3 entry into the facility or pay an annual $5,000 – $25,000 surcharge, which will be based on the facilities’ gross receipts from the previous calendar year. Most of the proceeds from this surcharge will be directed into the Sexual Assault Prevention Fund.

During the fall Veto Session, legislation (SB 1566/PA 97-1136) was approved that will stimulate revenue for the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The new law will eventually lead to $32 million in new revenue for DNR through the creation of entrance fees, use fees, shipping fees, consultation fees, and increases to current fees—including a $2 surcharge on license plate renewals.

A number of lawmakers voted against the legislation, arguing that the measure places the burden of financing DNR on the public, and noting there is no language to prevent future fund sweeps. However, the legislation was approved and quickly signed into law by the Governor, with proponents pointing out that budget constraints have forced DNR to struggle to perform necessary functions, such as much-needed upkeep at state parks.  

However, revenue-stimulating legislation constituted only a few of the bills passed during the final year of the 97th General Assembly. Lawmakers also focused on measures that will increase protections for some of the state’s most vulnerable citizens. This spring, the Legislature approved “Caylee’s Law” (SB 2537//PA 97-1079) in response to the nationally-covered case surrounding the death of two-year-old Caylee Anthony, whose mother, Casey, failed to report her daughter missing and then lied about circumstances surrounding the child’s disappearance and death.

The new law will increase penalties for a parent, guardian or caretaker who fails to report the death or disappearance of a child 13 years or younger within 24 hours, or one hour if the child is younger than 2. The law also expands the definition of obstruction of justice to parents, guardians or caretakers of a child younger than 13 who provide false information to law enforcement or other authorities investigating the child’s disappearance or death.  This legislation was also amended to specify DHFS/DHS/DCFS social workers, case workers and investigators as authorities included in the offense of threatening a public official, if the threat was specific to the individual.

Protecting the state’s elderly residents was also a top priority for state lawmakers, who approved legislation (HB 5266/PA 97-864) that expands the list of people and state agencies that have access to any records generated in response to a report of elder abuse, neglect, financial exploitation or self-neglect investigations. Now, law enforcement agencies, fire departments and fire protection districts can be given a list of at-risk adults from relevant state agencies, to ensure local first responders are aware of possible past abuse and are better able to protect these senior citizens.

On a lighter note, Illinois employees worried their boss may try to view their personal social media content can rest easy as of Jan. 1. A new law (HB 3782/PA 97-875) will prohibit employers from requesting or requiring any current or prospective employee to provide any account information, including passwords, in order to gain access to the employee’s social networking site(s).

Though obviously intended to protect Illinois workers’ reasonable rights to privacy on the Web, the bill also protects employers, who are not allowed to ask employees or job applicants about age, sex, race, or sexual orientation—all information that could be easily gleaned from a social networking site.

These are just some of the laws that will take effect on Jan. 1, 2013. A full list of the Jan. 1 new laws can be found here.

The following is legislation Sen. Rezin sponsored that will take effect on Jan. 1, 2013:

Charitable SECA Funding (HB 5480/PA 97-1005): Allows a charitable organization to become qualified to be a recipient of SECA funding if they attain 500 signatures from state employees or annuitants and submit these signatures electronically to the Comptroller.

Child Support Payments (SB 3549/PA 97-1029):  Provides the court with additional methods to pursue child support from a parent who is found guilty for contempt due to failure to comply with an order to pay child support, and who conducts a business or is self-employed. Self-employed individuals cannot have their wages garnished; requiring these individuals to provide monthly financial statements, provide detailed written accounts about job search efforts, and/or report to DES for job search services, may help individuals obtain the employment they need to provide support or provide incentive for these individuals to pay their support.

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