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Watch now: Nearly 300 new laws take effect in Illinois on Jan.1. Here's 33 you should know.

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Illinois lawmakers approved nearly 700 bills this legislative session — nearly 300 of which took effect Saturday.  Here are some that you should know:

Juneteenth

House Bill 3922 recognizes Juneteenth, which commemorates the date the last enslaved people were told of their emancipation in 1865, as an official state holiday. It will be a paid day off for state workers and public educators in years when it falls on a weekday. Since it is on a Sunday this year, the first paid state holiday will be in 2023.

FOID reform

House Bill 562 makes major changes to the state’s Firearm Owners Identification card system. It encourages but does not require fingerprinting, with those who provide them granted a streamlined process for renewal of FOID and concealed carry licenses. It also includes a combined FOID and CCL license for those who are eligible.

Trailer bill

Senate Bill 58 reduces the license plate renewal fee for trailers with a single axle and weighing under 2,000 pounds from $118 to $36. It also increases the private vehicle tax by $75 for each model year where the purchase price is less than $15,000 and $100 if the purchase price is above $15,000.

Minimum wage

The state’s minimum wage will increase to $12 per hour. It will increase an additional $1 every year until reaching $15 on Jan. 1, 2025.

Criminal justice reform

Pritzker signs criminal justice reform

Flanked by lawmakers and supporters, Gov. J.B. Pritzker picks up the nearly 800-page criminal justice reform bill after signing it into law during a ceremony Monday at Chicago State University on the South Side.

Most of the massive omnibus criminal justice reform law will take effect in the coming years, but starting Jan. 1, all law enforcement officers working for counties and cities with a population over 500,000 will have to wear body cameras. Police departments in smaller jurisdictions will be phased in.

Interrogations 

Senate Bill 2122 makes statements provided by minors inadmissible if attained using deceptive practices by law enforcement. 

Test optional

All Illinois public colleges and universities will have to offer a “test-optional” policy with the signing of House Bill 226. This means that students can choose whether or not to submit ACT, SAT or other test scores as part of their application.

Student mental health

Students will have up to five excused absences that can be used for mental or behavioral health. A doctor’s note is not required and students must be given the opportunity to make up any missed work while taking those days.

Hair discrimination

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Named after a four-year-old boy who was sent home from school for having braids that violated the school’s dress code, the Jett Hawkins Act bans school districts from enforcing dress codes that prohibit hairstyles historically associated with race and ethnicity, such as dreads and locks.

Gendered language

Senate Bill 139 allows a married person to request a certificate of their current marriage that is free of any gender identifying language like “bride” or “groom” and includes nongendered language like “spouse.”

Flags

House Bill 605 requires that state agencies and institutions purchase Illinois and American flags that were made in the United States.

Lemonade

Senate Bill 119 allows children under the age of 16 to sell lemonade and other non-alcoholic drinks without a permit or license. It is also known as Hayli’s Law after an 11-year-old whose lemonade stand was shut down by local public health officials.

Asian American history

House Bill 376 requires that a unit of Asian American history be taught in public school curriculum.

Religious history

House Bill 564 requires that history classes in public schools include contributions made by people of different faiths, including Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jews, Muslims and Sikhs.

Youth vaping

Dubbed the “Preventing Youth Vaping Act,” Senate Bill 512 prohibits electronic cigarette companies from using images of cartoons or video games that appeal to children in their marketing tactics. It also requires sellers to ensure that the buyer is at least 21 years old.

Agricultural science

Senate Bill 1624 adds agricultural sciences as a type of course that may be counted toward the three-year high school science course requirement to gain admission to an Illinois public university.

No non-compete

Non-compete clauses are only enforceable if the employee’s annual salary exceeds $75,000.

Children’s drinks

Senate Bill 1846 sets water, juice or milk as the “default” beverages for kids meals at restaurants. Kids can still request other drinks, such as pop.

FAFSA

Senate Bill 63 requires the Department of Children and Family Services to ensure that youth in care who are seniors in high school have completed a FAFSA by Nov. 1 of their final year of school and provide assistance in obtaining required documents.

Journalism task force

Senate Bill 134, known as the Local Journalism Task Force Act, will review, study and analyze the state of journalism in Illinois.

Ethics reform

Senate Bill 539 bans public officials from lobbying other units of government; ban legislators and executive branch officials from lobbying for six months after leaving office or the conclusion of their term; and bans fundraisers on days before and after session.

Imprisonment

Senate Bill 1566 requires the courts to factor pregnancy into consideration when deciding in favor of withholding or minimizing a sentence of imprisonment.

Human trafficking

Senate Bill 1600 requires a restaurant or truck stop to provide its employees with training in the recognition of human trafficking and protocols for reporting observed human trafficking to the appropriate authority.

Reduce sentences

Senate Bill 2129 allows state’s attorneys to petition the court to reduce an offender’s sentence if the state’s attorney believes the original sentence no longer advances the interests of justice.

Debate

Senate Bill 2354 allows students to take one year of forensic speech and debate in high school as a replacement for music, art or foreign language requirements.

Meeting minutes

Senate Bill 2356 requires that public bodies meet to review meeting minutes every six months, that a committee reviews closed session minutes six months from the last review, or at the next meeting.

Gold Star families

House Bill 20 repeals the registration fee for Gold Star license plates for surviving spouses or parents of veterans who died either during wartime or peacetime.

Early termination

House Bill 122 ends early termination fees for utility customers who are deceased before the end of a contract.

Animal adoption

House Bill 168 prohibits an individual from adopting or otherwise possessing animals if he or she has been convicted of two or more specified animal-related offenses.

Homeless hygiene

House Bill 310 ensures that feminine hygiene products are available for free at all homeless shelters providing housing assistance to women and/or youth.

Adjuncts

House Bill 375 requires the governing board of a public university or community college district to notify an adjunct professor about the status of the class they were hired to at least 30 days before the start of a term and again 14 days before the beginning of a term.

Microbe

House Bill 1879 provides that Penicillium rubens NRRL 1951 is designated the official microbe of the state of Illinois.

Township roads

House Bill 2863 requires county highway superintendents to provide written confirmation of positive or negative decisions on applications to build ditches, drains, tracks, rails, poles, wires, pipe line or other equipment alongside a township road.

Word choice

House Bill 3217 amends numerous state statutes by deleting the use of “Haitian” or “Negro” and instead uses Black or African American.


2021 was a year of change in Illinois politics and government, whether it was the ushering in of new leadership under the Capitol dome or the passage of consequential legislation that will fundamentally change how the state generates its electricity. 

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