New Laws in Illinois Effective in January - UPDATED

Safety for persons towed by watercraft 
PA 98-0697 (SB2731)
Amends the Boat Registration & Safety Act to require operators of a watercraft towing a person to display an orange flag on their watercraft from the time the person prepares for towing until the person reenters the boat.

Boating safety certificates 
PA 98-0698 (SB3433) 
Provides that no one born on or after January 1, 1998 shall operate a motorboat with more than 10 horse power without securing a valid Boating Safety Certificate by the Department of Natural Resources or another approved agency.

Access to birth certificates of adopted persons PA 98-0704 (HB5949)   
Allows adult grandchildren to access birth certificates and other information regarding their deceased grandparents if the grandparent was adopted. Also allows a birth parent of an adopted child to receive a non-certified copy of an original birth certificate if certain conditions are met.

Police bulletproof vest requirement  
PA 98-0743 (HB 5688) 
Requires law enforcement agencies to provide a bulletproof vest for every new law enforcement officer, and to replace each vest before the warranty expires. Requires that each government agency covered under this law will be required to apply to the United States Department of Justice under the Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant of 1998 to help pay for the purchase. Federal reimbursement is available for up to half the cost of the bulletproof vests and the state will be responsible for the remaining half that will otherwise be covered by the law enforcement agency.

Eases requirements for disabled veteran parking placards  
PA 98-0879 (SB 3255)
This law removes a requirement that a disabled parking placard or decal which has been issued to a veteran must be renewed every four years. The new law states that once a disabled parking placard or decal has been issued to a veteran who has been permanently disabled, that veteran does not have to keep coming back to the Secretary of State’s office for a renewal every four years.

Building storm shelters in new schools  
PA 98-0883 (HB 2513) 
This law requires all new school construction in Illinois to include a storm shelter which meets the minimum requirements of the International Code Council and National Storm Shelter Association. The legislation was inspired by the devastation left by deadly tornadoes which ripped through Illinois in 2012 and 2013.

Purple heart license plate fee waiver  
PA 98-0902 (HB 4491) 
To honor those who have served in the military and earned the Purple Heart, Illinois will now waive the payment of any registration or registration renewal fee for an individual issued a Purple Heart license plate.  The law will also allow individuals who have been issued the Purple Heart license plate and qualify under the Senior Citizens and Disabled Persons Property Tax Relief Act to obtain a plate for an additional vehicle for a $24 registration fee.