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Government

Illinois lawmakers implement more than 200 new laws for 2018

CRYSTAL LAKE – More than 200 changes to Illinois laws went into effect on New Year’s Day.

Sure, none of them counted as a meaningful state budget or pension reform, but look at it this way: Illinois now has an official state grain (corn) and exercise (cycling).  

Some of the new legislation gives new rights to women and children, while others honor pets, the majestic elephants once abused at the circus and former President Barack Obama, and a handful of laws strengthen the rights of bicyclists on the road.

Here’s a look at some of the laws that went live Monday.

Public safety

Under House Bill 733, car buyers won’t be able to drive vehicles off the lot unless stickers, decals and paperwork are removed from the windows. And that includes test drives at the dealership.

The bill comes after the death of Brendan Burke, who was killed in a crash by someone test driving a vehicle that had decals obstructing his view, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White said.

Criminal justice 

Stalking, intimidation and any transmission of obscene messages on the internet could be considered hate crimes, according to HB 3711

HB 2390 allows the courts to try crimes committed at churches, mosques, synagogues and other religious hot spots as hate crimes.

Senate Bill 0639 allows the prosecution of a person who delivers a fatal dose of a controlled substance to another person.

Health care

Illinois residents with pre-existing conditions have new support under HB 2959, a law prohibiting insurance companies from denying people trying to enroll in a benefits program with a pre-existing condition. 

HB 1805 allows 16- and 17-year-olds to sign up as organ and tissue donors when they apply for their driver’s license or state identification card. 

Women’s rights

Under SB 0057, domestic violence victims can keep their phone numbers without paying a fee to break cellphone contracts after leaving their abusers.

HB 2369 requires public and charter schools to provide breast-feeding accommodations for students. HB 3215 requires school districts to provide feminine hygiene products, including tampons and sanitary napkins, to students for free. 

Consumer protection 

SB 298 requires businesses to provide price lists for standard services so customers can make more informed decisions about what they're buying.

Legislators drafted the law with women in mind because they often pay more for products and services than men, Senate Democrats have said.

Early childhood development

When it comes to young children, troublemakers need all the help they can get. HB 2663 requires early childhood programs to find services to help young children work through their problems rather than expelling them.

Animals

Divorce can be a tricky and tumultuous process – especially when it comes to the toughest question at the end of a relationship: Who gets the dog? 

Under SB 1261, a judge decides who gets to keep the dog. Deciding factors include important pet parent details concerning who takes care of the animal on a day-to-day basis, and who spends more money on necessities such as food and vaccinations.

SB 1884 requires laboratories to make a reasonable effort to find homes for dogs or cats used in their research.

A staple circus character is now a part of history. To protect elephants from harmful training conditions and abuses, SB 1342 prohibits circuses or traveling animal acts in Illinois from using African and Asian elephants.

The internet

No business likes a bad review – and no customer likes to be silenced. SB 1898 gives customers the right to post reviews of restaurants online no matter whether their comments are positive or negative. 

Transportation 

HB 2895 names cycling as the state’s official exercise, and there are three other bicycle traffic laws that went into effect Monday in Illinois. 

HB 1784 strengthen cyclists’ rights on the road. The law outlines three new provisions allowing motorists to pass a bicyclist on the highway in a no-passing zone, making riding a bicycle on a highway shoulder legal and allowing cyclists to use a rear red light instead of a rear red reflector. 

Just because ...

HB 0470 designates corn as the official state grain of Illinois. 

SB 1586 allows the Department of Natural Resources to establish rules for people to safely scatter cremated remains in a state park. 

And SB 0055 designates Aug. 4 of each year as Barack Obama Day in honor of the 44th president of the U.S. 

Check out all of the new laws online.

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