26 new laws that go into effect on January 1st

191 new laws take effect January 1, 2017. Here is a preview of 26 Illinoisans should know about:

Social media right to privacy 
Public Act 99-610, House Bill 4999
Amends the Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act to make it illegal for an employer or prospective employer to request or require an employee or applicant to access a personal online account (such as Facebook) in the presence of the employer. It is also illegal to request or require that an employee or applicant invite the employer to join a group affiliated with any personal online account of the employee, or applicant, or join an online account established by the employer.

Employee Sick Leave Act
Public Act 99-841, House Bill 6162
Under the new law, employees may now use personal sick leave benefits for purposes dealing with a child, spouse, sibling, parent, mother-in-law, father-in-law, grandchild, grandparent or step parent. The employee can use such time as may be necessary on the same terms that employee would use the time for their own illness or injury.

Traffic stop education
Public Act 99-720, House Bill 6131
Students taking drivers education courses will now be educated on safe procedures to follow during a traffic stop by law enforcement. The lesson will include such tips as remaining calm and keeping one’s hands in view at all times and will also educate drivers on their rights when in the presence of law enforcement.

‘Taps’ at military funerals
Public Act 99-804, House Bill 4432
A student in sixth through twelfth grades at an Illinois public school is allowed to be absent from school if that student is sounding ‘Taps’ at a military funeral for a deceased veteran in Illinois. The legislation was suggested by a high school senior who estimated he had been called upon to render the honor at two dozen military funerals.

Vehicle registration date same as birthday
Public Act 99-644, House Bill 5651
The Secretary of State may allow an owner of a car or light truck to select his or her birthday as the motor vehicle’s registration expiration date.

Citizen Privacy Protection Act
Public Act 99-622, Senate Bill 2343
The new law limits the use of “Stingray” technology which collects information on all cell phones in its vicinity. Police using Stingray technology are now required to delete the information on all non-investigation-targets within 24 hours. Police are also forbidden from accessing such data for use in an investigation not authorized by a judge through a warrant or other process.

Molly’s Law
Public Acts 99-586 and 99-587, House Bills 4715 and 6083
Lengthens the statute of limitations to sue for wrongful death and to add stiffer financial penalties to the Illinois Freedom of Information Act for non-compliance. Molly’s Law is named for Molly Young, a Carbondale woman who was found dead of a gunshot wound. When Molly’s family sued for wrongful death, the statute of limitations ran out on them due to the length of time it took for crime scene and other case-related evidence to be released following years of FOIA requests and denials and delays.

Criminal Diversion Racial Impact Data Act Public Act 99-666, House Bill 1437
The Criminal Diversion Racial Impact Data Act requires the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority to report the number of persons arrested and released without charging and the racial and ethnic composition of those persons. The authority will report on the number of people for whom formal charges were dismissed, and the racial and ethnic composition of those persons, as well as the number of persons admitted to a diversion from prosecution program and the racial and ethnic composition of those persons.

Explaining consequences of guilty pleas
Public Act 99-871, House Bill 2569
Courts will no longer be allowed to accept guilty pleas from defendants until the court has fully explained to the defendant the consequences of such a plea. Before accepting a guilty plea, the court will have to explain to the defendant such things as the possibility of tougher sentences for future convictions, registration requirements and difficulty obtaining housing or a firearm.

Sexual Assault Incident Procedure Act 
Public Act 99-801, Senate Bill 3096
By January 1, 2018, every law enforcement agency in Illinois must adopt, develop and implement a written policy regarding procedures for incidents of sexual assault or sexual abuse. A model policy will be developed by the Attorney General, Illinois Law Enforcement Training Standards Board and the State Police.

Domestic violence training for police 
Public Act 99-810, House Bill 5538
Law enforcement agencies will be required to consult with community organizations with expertise in recognizing and handling domestic violence incidents when developing arrest procedure policies for domestic violence situations. For both initial training and refresher training every five years, officers shall be trained in understanding the actions of domestic violence victims and abusers.

More education for spotting domestic violence Public Act 99-766, House Bill 4264
Persons applying for licenses under the Barber, Cosmetology, Esthetics, Hair Braiding and Nail Technology Act will now be required to undergo training for spotting signs of domestic violence and sexual abuse. The law also provides that a person who has had the training and who acts in good faith or fails to act shall not be held criminally or civilly liable.

Local Government Travel Expense Control Act
Public Act 99-604, House Bill 4379
School districts, community college districts and non-home rule units of local government will now be required to regulate expenses for travel, meals and lodging for local officials and employees. The expenses can only be approved after all documentation has been submitted and the approval is granted by a roll call vote. Reimbursement for entertainment expenses is prohibited by the new law.

Epinephrine Auto-Injector Act
Public Act 99-711, House Bill 4462
A health care practitioner may prescribe epinephrine auto-injectors in the name of an authorized entity where allergens capable of causing anaphylaxis may be present. All employees of the authorized entity would be required to complete a training program before using an auto-injector.

Expunging non-violent juvenile records
Public Act 99-835, House Bill 5017
Court records for non-violent crimes committed by juveniles can be expunged under this new law. Juveniles may petition the court at any time after the termination of all court proceedings relating to the incident, rather than having to wait until they turn 21.

Making room for disabled vehicles
Public Act 99-681, House Bill 6006
On a highway of four of more lanes, two of which are moving the in same direction, drivers approaching a disabled vehicle which has its hazard lights on must move into a lane not adjacent to the disabled vehicle if it is safe to do so, or must reduce speed if it is not. A violation of this law is a petty offense.

Expanding definition of “vehicle endangerment”
Public Act 99-656, House Bill 6010
Existing Illinois law already allows for punishing individuals who drop objects onto vehicles from overpasses. House Bill 6010 expands the law to include objects dropped from hills, buildings and other starting points. The crime is a Class 2 felony.

Bath Salts Prohibition Act
Public Act 99-585, Senate Bill 210
In response to the growing abuse of cathinone drugs in Illinois, the Bath Salts Prohibition Act creates the Class 3 felony offense of selling bath salts in a retail establishment. Violation of the law carries an enhanced fine of $150,000 and revocation of a retailers’ license.

REAL ID Compliance
Public Act 99-511, Senate Bill 637
To bring Illinois into compliance with the federal REAL ID Act, SB 637 ends the practice of printing and distributing plastic ID cards at Secretary of State offices. Instead, Illinoisans will submit their renewal or new license information and it will be sent to a secure facility where a new license, which is much more difficult to counterfeit, will be produced and mailed to the applicant.

Higher fine for train crossing violations 
Public Act 99-663, Senate Bill 2806
Fines for trespassing into a railroad grade crossing while warning signals are showing and sounding will double from $250 to $500 on January 1. The legislation is in response, in part, to faster Amtrak trains which will begin operating at 110 mph in parts of Illinois.

Sales of residences built by students 
Public Act 99-794, Senate Bill 2823
If students in a curricular program at a school build or renovate a residential property, the school board can engage the services of a licensed real estate broker to sell the property. The board would have to approve the action by a 2/3 margin and the broker’s commission could not exceed 7%.

Permitting bowfishing for catfish 
Public Act 99-867, House Bill 5788
Bowfishing is the practice of taking a fish with a spear or a bow and arrow. Existing Illinois law limited the kinds of fish that can be taken through bowfishing. HB 5788 added catfish to the Fish Code list of fish that can be taken with sharp weaponry.

No catch limits on private fish ponds 
Public Act 99-532, House Bill 5796
Illinois law limits the number of fish a person with a fishing license can legally catch in a 24 hour period. House Bill 5796 creates an exception for people fishing on fish ponds located on their own private property. 

Youth Trapping Licenses
Public Act 99-868, Senate Bill 2410
Persons under the age of 18 may apply for a Youth Trapping License, which will grant to them limited trapping privileges. In order to trap or carry a hunting device, the youth must be accompanied by a parent, grandparent or guardian over 21 who has a valid Illinois hunting license.

Agriculture Education Teacher Grant Program Public Act 99-826, Senate Bill 2975
A school district may apply for a grant to fund 50% of the personal services cost for an agriculture education teacher, or if the school is creating a new agriculture education program, 100% of the cost in the first two years and 80% in the third and fourth years. This new act is subject to appropriation.

Landowner hunting permit procedures
Public Act 99-869, Senate Bill 3003
Amending the Wildlife Code, SB 3003 allows owners and resident tenants who control 40 or more acres of land in Illinois to apply for and receive without fee deer permits, turkey permits or a combination deer/turkey permit. The law also applies to members of hunting clubs, partnerships or cooperatives if the group owns the land in question.