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On January 1st, more than 200 new laws will go into effect in Illinois. Among them are laws that provide additional protections for victims of sexual assault, greater access to healthcare, expanded consumer protections, improved public safety and more benefits for veterans.

Here are 7 new state laws to know in 2020.

BUDGET
Fitch Ratings issues watch report on Illinois’ fiscal stability. The credit rating agency identified Illinois as one of three states that should be closely scrutinized by debt investors in calendar year 2020. Fitch identified potential “changes in credit quality” in Springfield as an element in its continuing belief that Illinois’ finances must be kept under close watch. Fitch’s report, released on Tuesday, December 10, placed Illinois in the same category as Alaska and Kentucky. All three are states with serious budgetary problems, including unfunded pension liabilities.
Perhaps the most famous (or infamous) prison in America is the now idle facility on an island in San Francisco Bay known as Alcatraz. The former U.S. Army fort became a federal prison in 1934 and housed the era’s most dangerous killers, bank robbers and gangsters, including Illinois’ own Al Capone. It was also the subject of any number of pop culture references, including numerous films starring such Hollywood luminaries as Burt Lancaster, Clint Eastwood and Sean Connery.

But by the early 1960s, “the Rock” was showing its age. Deterioration, prohibitive expenses for maintenance and a high-profile 1962 escape attempt convinced federal policymakers that a new facility was going to have to be found for the nation’s worst offenders. Considering all these factors, Attorney General Robert Kennedy signed off on the plans for a new maximum security federal prison in a quiet corner of southern Illinois just south of the city of Marion.
BUDGET
COGFA reports on November State tax revenues. The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA), the General Assembly’s nonpartisan budget-forecasting arm, constantly monitors Illinois State tax cash flows. Public reports are published monthly.

The revenue report for November 2019 reflects continued increases in Illinois incomes and the payments of income taxes to the State. Income tax payments in November 2019 were $201 million higher than they had been in November 2018, with $114 million of the increase being paid in individual income tax and $87 million in corporate income tax. Overall State general funds-related tax receipts increased by $153 million in November 2019 relative to the year-earlier month, and total revenues including transfers-in were up by $124 million in November 2019.
Tully Monster 3D model. Photo from the Illinois State Museum. 
What exactly is a Tully Monster?

“We still don’t know what he is – or was,” then-Field Museum curator Mary Carman, a leader in the effort to designate the Tully Monster as the official Illinois State Fossil, told the Chicago Tribune in 1987. “He makes a brief appearance in the fossil record and suddenly disappears. He didn’t evolve into anything, nor was anything ancestral to him, but he is a one-in-a-million fossil. That is why he would make a great state fossil for Illinois. People come here from all over the world to hunt for their own Tully.”

So, what’s a Tully Monster? And where did it come from?
EDUCATION
Outcry against misuse of “seclusion rooms” by schools across Illinois; State takes action. Many school districts use “seclusion rooms” and “isolation rooms” as places where students whom an educator believes to be disruptive can be sent for time-outs. News reports this week suggest that some schools are misusing seclusion rooms, or using them in the wrong circumstances and on the wrong students. Some students have behavioral or emotional problems that make isolation and seclusion a cruel punishment to inflict upon them. Many parents want to believe that their schools know what they are doing when they punish a schoolchild in this way, but an investigation has found that there very few cases where a school examines and diagnoses a student’s psychological state before sending the child to an isolation room. Worse, in some cases the school should know that this act is inappropriate – and they do it anyway. Following publication of this investigative report, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) issued emergency rules to ban the isolation of a student in a locked quiet room. Based on the new rules, students who are assigned to “time outs” will be monitored rather than isolated.
Thanksgiving celebrations come with a healthy dose of 17th-century Pilgrim imagery. They are in recognition of what is generally considered the very first Thanksgiving in America – the feast in Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1621.

The concept of holding a special celebration to give thanks is one which appears throughout American history. Settlers in Virginia wrote of having a feast of thanksgiving as early as 1610. President George Washington called for such an occasion in 1789, shortly after his inauguration. Different states, principally in the Northeast, marked these occasions at different times throughout the year, but usually tied to the harvest season.