250 New Laws in 2020 

 By Raleigh D. Kalbfleisch

 

Governor Pritzker and our Illinois lawmakers were very busy in 2019 and on January 1, 2020, 250 new laws took effect. Below is a non-exhaustive list for your perusal. A full description of each new law can be found at https://legiscan.com/IL/legislation/2019?status=passed.

 

Recreational Marijuana: The text of the law states that “[i]n the interest of allowing law enforcement to focus on violent and property crimes, generating revenue for education, substance abuse prevention and treatment, freeing public resources to invest in communities and other public purposes, and individual freedom, the General Assembly finds and declares that the use of cannabis should be legal for persons 21 years of age or older and should be taxed in a manner similar to alcohol.” Anyone under the age of 21 still cannot legally use marijuana.

 

Medical marijuana in schools. Medical cannabis can be administered to qualified patients at all schools, public and private.

 

Illinois minimum wage increases: The law states the wage shall increase by $1 to 9.25 on January 1, followed by a 75-cent increase to $10 on July 1. Ultimately the minimum wage will be $15 per hour by 2025. Tipped workers can still be paid 60% of the regular minimum wage. The new law also includes a payroll deduction tax credit for employers of 50 or fewer workers.

 

Wage History Question Prohibition: Amends the Equal Pay Act of 2003 prohibiting an employer from: screening job applicants based on their wage or salary history, requiring that an applicant’s prior wages satisfy minimum or maximum
criteria, requesting or requiring that an applicant disclose prior wages or salary as a condition of being interviewed or as a condition of continuing to be considered for an offer of employment.

 

Employment Discrimination/Sexual Harassment. Requires employers to train workers annually on preventing sexual harassment in the workplace, expands the Victims Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA) to allow victims of gender violence to take unpaid leave from work for medical, legal, counseling or safety assistance, makes harassment against contract workers/employees illegal (they were not covered in the past), prevents the same union representative from representing both a victim of sexual harassment and the alleged harasser in a disciplinary meeting, clarifies that it is illegal to discriminate against an employee if they are perceived to be part of a protected class (e.g.: gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity) even if they are not, limits the use of employee non-disclosure agreements, arbitration clauses, and non-disparagement clauses in relation to sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation, creates the Hotel and Casino Employee Safety Act, requiring such employers to adopt anti-sexual harassment policies and make safety devices available to employees, and requires employers to report charges filed against it by Illinois employees for employment discrimination and sexual harassment.

 

An amendment to the Illinois Income Tax Act introduces new rules for withholding personal income tax from employees.

 

For parents, minors 12 and older to get preventative STD treatments such as HIV PrEP medications without parental consent.

 

Baby changing stations. Every public building with public restrooms to have at least one safe, sanitary, convenient and publicly accessible baby diaper changing station accessible to women and men in their individual restrooms.

 

Public restrooms. Any single-occupancy bathroom in public must have a sign that notes “restroom” and not any specific gender.

 

Cap on trade-in value for used cars. The law increases the taxable difference amount on your purchase of a vehicle. Currently in Illinois, sales tax only applies to the difference between your trade-in value and the vehicle’s purchase price. That all changed after January 1st when the new law went into effect. Currently, a buyer has already paid tax on their vehicle in Illinois and until 12/31/19, a buyer will receive the full tax value on their trade-in. However, starting January 1st, 2020, the maximum trade-in sales tax credit will be up to $10,000.

 

Domesticated cats. Cats will be required to get rabies inoculations.

 

No more statute of limitations for sexual assault and abuse crimes. The statute of limitations will be lifted for criminal sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual assault or aggravated criminal sexual abuse, regardless of the age of the victim. The statute of limitations is also lifted for the prosecution of female genital mutilation.

 

A savings bond for every baby. A new law also starts the process of the Illinois treasurer creating the Illinois Higher Education Savings Program, which will use tax dollars to provide a $50 college-savings fund for each baby born in the state, though newborns won’t be enrolled until January 2021.

 

Illinois history and sexual harassment policies in schools. Teachers will have to start teaching Illinois history. There are also requirements that schools maintain age-appropriate sexual harassment policies on their websites and in student handbooks. There is also a requirement that sexual education classes teach the meaning of consent.

 

School safety measures. The Illinois State Board of Education can start awarding for school safety and security like a metal detector or professional development.

 

Don’t watch movies while you drive (I still cannot believe this needs to be a law). It will be illegal to watch or stream video while behind the wheel.

 

Stopped school buses. Passing a stopped school bus could get you a $300 fine for the first offense and $1,000 for the
second offense.

 

Law enforcement safety on the road. There are increased fines and penalties for violating Scott’s Law, the state’s “move over” law in construction zones and when approaching stationary vehicles on the side of highways.

 

New license plates. The Secretary of State may issue Cold War license plates, Disabled Veterans license plates and
United Nations Protection Force license plates. Specialty plate decals for universal plates can be issued for K-9 for Veterans, two for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers and its Local Lodge 701, and decals for developmental disabilities awareness.

 

Children of fallen officers and firefighters. Children and stepchildren of deceased police officers or firefighters can get police and fire specialty license plates.

 

Veteran license plates for motorcycles. Another new law makes both the Disabled Veteran and ISERVE license plates available for motorcycles.

 

Employment law. Employers cannot inquire into or use an arrest record as a basis for an employment decision. Arrest records also can’t be used to refuse to engage in real estate transactions.

 

Revenge Porn. In civil law, nonconsensual dissemination of private sexual images will be a civil violation. Another law prohibits posting private compromising images of another person and allows a person to obtain a “take-down” order to have the image removed from the internet.

 

Resuming a maiden name after divorce. And if you’re getting divorced and want to change your name back to your maiden name, the name change does not need to be published.

 

Pretrial detainees’ voting rights. County jails must better facilitate opportunities for pre-trial detainees to vote in
elections.

 

Inmate co-pays. Illinois Department of Corrections inmates won’t have to pay a $5 co-pay for medical or dental services. IDOC also can’t sue an inmate to recoup the cost of their
imprisonment.

 

Inmate release. When an inmate prepares to be released, they’ll go through the Re-Entering Citizen Civics Education Act with information about civics in a nonpartisan program.

 

Some of the more unusual laws passed: If you want to be a Chinese herbologist, you have to get a license from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation; the Secretary of State will have to inform people about the zipper merge method and to include at least one question about Scott’s Law on driver’s tests. If your child is a paid performer, a new law requires at least 15 percent of gross earnings be deposited into a trust fund they can access when they turn 18. Vehicles with smoked or tinted lighting lens covers are now illegal. Some farm wagon trailers and other qualified equipment won’t have to have license plates beginning New Year’s Day. ID cards for minors will cost $5, not $10.

 

Raleigh D. Kalbfleisch is a sole practitioner concentrating in family law. She is a graduate of Purdue University and the Quinnipac University School Law and was a visiting student at Chicago Kent College of Law. She is an active member of the ISBA, DCBA and Family Law Section. She is a past president of DuPage Association of Women Lawyers and the DuPage Bar Foundation.