Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democratic-controlled General Assembly may not have approved a full year's budget in 2016, but they did manage to agree on nearly 200 laws that go into effect when the new year begins.
Following up on landmark legislation from 2015, lawmakers passed two measures aimed at addressing the state's opioid and heroin addiction crisis. One allows drug court participants to use medication-based addiction treatments. The other requires licensed substance abuse programs to provide educational information on medication-based treatments and the use of anti-overdose drugs.
Illinois has a state animal (white-tailed deer), state bird (cardinal) and even a state pie (pumpkin), but it hasn't had an official state artifact until now. Welcome the pirogue, a type of wooden canoe made from a hollowed-out tree.
It is now a Class 3 felony, punishable by a fine of up to $150,000, to sell or offer for sale synthetic stimulants commonly known as "bath salts," among other nicknames. The state law, sponsored by Rep. Avery Bourne, R-Raymond, and Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, also lets local governments revoke the licenses of retailers who are convicted of violations.
A 2013 law made Illinois the second state to prohibit employers or prospective employers from requiring employees or applicants to disclose usernames and passwords for social media accounts. A new law broadens that protection to any "personal online account" and prohibits employers from disciplining employees or declining to hire applicants for refusing to provide that information.
All trained emergency medical technicians in Illinois will now be able to treat severe allergic reactions with epinephrine injected through a syringe rather than with costlier autoinjectors, better known as EpiPens. Sponsored by Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, the law comes as the maker of the EpiPen is facing a public outcry and federal scrutiny over dramatic price increases.
Life insurance companies are now required to check Social Security records to identify policyholders who've died but whose benefits have gone unclaimed by their survivors. The law, which Democratic Illinois Treasurer Mike Frerichs backed, was a response to adults that identified more than $550 million in benefits that have gone unpaid since 2011.
Known collectively as "Molly's Law," a pair of measures extends to five years from two years the statute of limitations for bringing wrongful death lawsuits when someone is the victim of "violent intentional conduct" and strengthens penalties for public bodies that violate the Illinois Freedom of Information Act. The law, sponsored by Rep. Terri Bryant, R-Murphysboro, is named for Molly Young, a 21-year-old who was fatally shot in 2012 in the apartment of her boyfriend, who was then a Carbondale police dispatcher.
Law enforcement officials are now barred from interrogating children younger than 15 without an attorney present when investigating homicides and certain sex crimes. The law previously applied to children younger than 13. The new law also simplifies the notice of rights that officers must read to all minors and expands the requirement for videotaping interrogations of minors.
Licensed cosmetologists will now receive training to spot domestic and sexual abuse as part of their continuing education requirements. Illinois is believed to be the first state to pass such a law. While cosmetologists won't be required to report abuse, supporters say they're in a good position to identify it and offer help to victims.
The so-called "tampon tax" is no more in Illinois. A new law exempts tampons, menstrual pads and menstrual cups from the 6.25 percent statewide sales tax, which applies to nonessential items like soft drinks, candy and grooming products.
Police K-9 officers will have first crack at adopting their four-legged partners when the dogs retire. If the officer doesn't wish to adopt a dog, another officer or employee can, or the dog can be offered to a nonprofit organization or no-kill animal shelter.
Passed in response to Jimmy John's having restaurant employees sign agreements barring them from taking jobs at other sandwich chains, the new law prohibits such agreements for workers who earn $13 an hour or less. Jimmy John's settled a lawsuit with the Illinois attorney general's office by agreeing to stop using the agreements, which the company says it didn't enforce.
Illinois employers now will be required to let employees use up to half of their paid sick days to care for family members, including children, spouses, siblings, parents, parents-in-law, grandchildren, grandparents or stepparents.
In the wake of the crisis over lead-contaminated water in Flint, Michigan, Illinois passed a law requiring property owners to address high lead levels before selling a building or renewing a lease. The law applies to residential buildings and child care facilities regulated by the state's Lead Poisoning Prevention Act.
An update to the state's Health Care Right of Conscience Act requires medical providers to give patients information on procedures such as abortion if patients request it, regardless of a provider's religious objections. However, the law is facing a First Amendment challenge from a group of northern Illinois clinics.
A new law clarifies that schools or programs that teach yoga or train yoga instructors aren't required to obtain licenses from the Illinois Board of Higher Education. The law was passed in response to the board telling some yoga teacher training programs that they needed to be licensed as vocational schools.
A measure sponsored by Rep. Charlie Meier, R-Okawville, adds catfish to the list of fish that can be caught using pitchforks, underwater spear guns, or bows and arrows. That list already includes carp, buffalo, suckers, gar, bowfin, shad and drum.
Grocery stores now will be allowed to replace broken eggs in cartons so long as it's done as part of a "lot consolidation," defined as "the removal of damaged eggs from consumer labeled cartons and replacement of the damaged eggs with eggs of the same grade, size, sell-by date, brand, lot and source." Stores must have training programs and keep records on all consolidated cartons.
Illinois has long honored farms that have been in the same family for a century or 150 years, and the state will now honor centennial and sesquicentennial agribusiness. A law that took effect in August honors bicentennial farms.
Middle and high school musicians now will be given excused absences on days when they miss class to play taps at military funerals in Illinois. Students will be required to make up the work they missed.
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STEVE SMEDLEY, The Pantagraph
Middle and high school musicians now will be given excused absences on days when they miss class to play taps at military funerals in Illinois.