More than 200 new laws will take effect on January 1, 2015, addressing issues ranging from technology and public safety, to transportation and wildlife.
New Transportation Laws
Notable laws taking effect on January 1 include several that will affect Illinois motorists.
Senate Bill 2015, which I sponsored, brings the state’s Toll Highway system in Chicago up to the same 70 mph speed limit as the rest of the state, unless the Toll Highway Authority can prove that speed is unsafe on those roadways.
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Senate Bill 2015 had been vetoed by Governor Pat Quinn, but the General Assembly voted to override that veto during the fall veto session. The legislation is a follow-up measure to legislation I also sponsored that took effect in 2014, raising Illinois’ speed limit on interstate highways to 70 mph.
Legislation reinstating “sign and drive” will also take effect on January 1. House Bill 2583 prohibits law enforcement from taking a driver’s license as bail following a traffic law or ordinance violation. Currently, Illinois is one of only six states that confiscate a driver’s license for a minor traffic offense.
New Technologies Inspire New Laws
New technologies, like surveillance drones and online communication platforms, continue to develop, inspiring a number of new laws taking effect on January 1.
Sponsored by Senator Dale Righter of Mattoon, House Bill 4594 allows for electronic search warrants to utilize services like Skype, which provide simultaneous audio and video transmission, as a way to request search warrants.
A number of laws have been introduced in recent years to regulate the use of drones and mitigate any potential violations of privacy that may result. One such law taking effect January 1 is Senate Bill 2937, which prohibits a law enforcement agency from using a drone owned by a third party to acquire information.
Sponsored by Senator Michael Connelly of Naperville, House Bill 5623 requires that a unit of local government or a school district that maintains a website (other than a social media or networking website), to post an email address that members of the public can use to communicate with elected officials of that unit of local government or school district.
In recent years, social media platforms, like Facebook and Twitter, have become increasingly popular. Unfortunately, so has the practice of “cyber bullying.” In what some argued was an overreach of a school’s authority, House Bill 4207 requires schools to address electronic bullying under certain circumstances, even if the bullying occurred off-campus and was conducted by using private computers, cell phones, etc.
House Bill 5868, which requires e-cigarettes to be sold from behind the counter in an age-restricted area, or in a sealed display case, will also take effect on January 1.
“Ban the Box”
House Bill 5701 gives job applicants the opportunity to address questions about a past criminal record in person, during an interview. The new law prohibits private employers with 15 or more employees from asking a job applicant about their criminal history until the applicant has been selected for an interview or, if there is not an interview, until after a conditional offer of employment is made.
Propane Emergency Weight Limits
Last winter, Illinois experienced propane shortages that drove up the cost of propane to historic highs. Understanding that many in Illinois rely on this fuel to heat their homes, Senator Sam McCann of Carlinville sponsored Senate Bill 3139, which allows propane trucks to weigh up to 90,000 pounds during a declaration of an emergency propane supply disaster by the Governor under the Illinois Emergency Agency Act. This legislation is intended to increase the supply of propane and therefore decrease the price.
A new law taking effect January 1 seeks to reduce wrongful convictions by changing the state’s existing police photo lineup procedure. House Bill 802 requires police departments, unless not practical, to use an independent administrator, an automated computer program, a random folder photo lineup method, or any other procedure that does not allow the lineup administrator to know the identity of the suspect. The legislation also allows police departments to present each individual in the line-up separately. Research suggests that viewing the line-ups simultaneously may contribute to wrongful convictions.
Liability for Underage Drinking
Sponsored by Senator Pam Althoff of McHenry, House Bill 4745 expands current law that makes it illegal for parents or guardians to allow underage drinking at a residence or other private property. State law will now include vehicles; conveyances, like trailers, mobile homes, and campers; or a watercraft under the parent or guardian’s control.
Wolves, Bears, Cougars
The gray wolf, American black bear and cougar are added to the list of protected species in Illinois under Senate Bill 3049. The new law also spells out conditions that allow landowners to kill the animals if they are causing an immediate threat of physical harm or death to a person, livestock, domestic animals, or harm to structures or other property. In recent years, all three animals have started to return to Illinois in very limited numbers and this is an effort to manage that reintroduction.
A complete list of new laws taking effect on January 1, 2105, is available by clicking here.