18 New Illinois Laws to Know in 2018

Video: Amanda Vinicky reports on a failed challenge to the abortion law and other state laws going into effect on Jan. 1, 2018. 

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Jan. 1, 2018 signals the start of more than 200 new laws in Illinois, ranging from health care to animal welfare to child care, transportation and criminal justice.

Last week, both state Democrats and Republicans released their picks for the top new laws for 2018. (See Democrats’ top 10 here; Illinois GOP members released a YouTube video listing their 18 new laws.)

Below, a selection of 18 new laws that take effect on New Year’s Day. 

New Training for Restaurant Managers

This law could make the dining experience more palatable to people who have food allergies. Under the new rules, managers of category 1 restaurants must undergo accredited food allergen awareness and safety training within 30 days of being hired, with recertification required every three years. Also, at least one manager who has received the training must be on site at all times while the restaurant is open.

Abortions to Remain Legal

The multi-pronged measure House Bill 40 removes a “trigger law” that could make abortions illegal in Illinois should the U.S. Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade. It also covers abortions under both Medicaid and state employees’ health insurance plans. (Chicago Tonight reported on the law after Gov. Bruce Rauner signed it in September.)

Insurers Must Cover MRI for Some Women

MRI of an entire breast or breasts must be covered by an insurer if a mammogram demonstrates heterogeneous or dense breast tissue (a risk factor for cancer), when such tests are determined medically necessary by a licensed physician. (A Glenview woman is advocating for a state law that would require mammography reports inform women if they have breast dense tissue.)

Schools Must Accommodate Nursing Mothers

Public and charter schools must provide space for nursing mothers in a private and secure room with an electrical outlet – other than a bathroom. Under the law, students will be permitted to bring any equipment needed to express breast milk, such as a breast pump. In addition, students must have access to a refrigerator to store their milk and can’t be penalized for time they spend pumping or breast-feeding. 

Changing Gender on Birth Certificates

Transgender and intersex individuals will be allowed to change the gender marker on their birth certificates without undergoing gender reassignment surgery, as long as the individual is under a doctor’s care.  

Pets’ ‘Well-being’ to be Considered in Divorce Cases

Determining who gets the dog when a marriage sours will now require a court to consider the pet’s “well-being” during divorce proceedings. Sponsored by Sen. Linda Holmes, SB1261 states all “companion animals” or pets are considered marital assets and the court can allocate joint or sole ownership of a pet, in part, based on their well-being. Service animals are exempt.

Elephants Banned from Big Tops

Illinois will become the first state to ban the use of elephants in circuses and other traveling exhibits, putting an official end to a practice that animal rights activists have been protesting for decades. The law does not ban elephants in zoos or other non-traveling institutions that ensure adequate conditions for the animals. 

Cyclists Can Ride on the Shoulder

In an effort to improve cyclist safety and traffic flow, a new law permits bicycling on road shoulders and allows motorists to pass cyclists in no-passing zones. A driver is allowed to cross into the oncoming lane in a no-passing zone to safely pass a cyclist who is riding at less than half the posted speed limit when there is sufficient distance to do so. Drivers must not exceed the speed limit and pass with at least three feet of clearance. At night, cyclists can use rear red taillights instead of (or in addition to) the standard reflector, which is currently required by law.

(Azri / Flickr) (Azri / Flickr)

No More Driving with ‘For Sale’ Signs

Buying or selling a car in the new year? Pay attention to this rule: All signs, decals or paperwork on a car’s front windshield or windows that could obstruct a driver’s vision must be removed before a test drive. HB0733 stems from the death of Brendan Burke, who was killed in a car accident by a driver whose vision was obstructed by decals and paperwork. 

Teen Drivers Can Register as Donors

Illinois residents who are at least 16 years old can join the First Person Consent Organ and Tissue donor registry when they receive their driver’s license or state ID cards. Parents and guardians will still have the right to give or revoke consent until the donor turns 18.

Schools Can’t Expel Pre-K Students

Early childhood programs will be prohibited from kicking children out for exhibiting difficult behaviors. Rather than expulsion, the law requires early childhood programs to document any steps taken to make sure children who do exhibit those types of behavior are still able to participate safely. If those efforts fail, it also allows day cares to transfer children to other programs, but only with parental permission. (Chicago Tonight covered HB2633 after it was signed into law.)

Online Threats Could be Considered Hate Crimes

Initiated by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, the new law will better protect Illinois residents from hate crimes by addressing the increasing use of technology to attack victims. The law states cyberstalking, transmission of obscene messages and certain acts of intimidation could be considered hate crimes.

Consumers’ Online Reviews, Complaints Protected

The new law SB1898 prevents companies and service providers from enforcing non-disparagement clauses included in sales contracts that typically prohibit consumers from leaving negative feedback. Only two other states, California and Maryland, have laws in place banning non-disparagement clauses. 

Domestic Violence Survivors Can Keep Cellphone Numbers

Survivors of domestic violence can petition to keep their current cellphone numbers without the approval of the primary account holder as part of an order of protection. Survivors would become financially responsible for the number(s) transferred to them. They can also petition to have their children’s numbers transferred as well.

Foster Children Should be in Most ‘Family Like’ Setting

Children and adults in the care of the Department of Children and Family Services who are placed in foster care should be placed in the least restrictive and most “family like” setting available. In addition, the new law requires children in foster care be placed in close proximity to his or her parent’s home, consistent with the child’s health, safety, best interests and special needs.

Dry Cleaners, Hair Salons Need to List Prices

Spearheaded by Sen. Melinda Bush, SB0298 requires hair salons, barbers, dry cleaners and tailors to provide customers with a price list of services upon request. “Women have been unfairly charged more than men for the same services for far too long,” Bush said in a statement after the bill was signed into law. “Transparent pricing among service providers will help women know whether they are getting a fair deal for services.” These service providers have been shown to charge women more than men in gender-based pricing studies. 

Training on Mental Health Issues for Police Officers

All law enforcement officers must take a course on mental health issues to learn about the types of illnesses, including signs and symptoms of mental illness, and common treatments and medications. The course will also cover possible interactions between officers and individuals with mental health issues, their families and service providers. In addition, HB0375 stipulates that all officers in counties of more than 3 million people must complete Crisis Intervention Team training as part of initial basic minimum training. 

Funds to Manage Feral Cat Colonies

Counties in Illinois will be able to tap into their animal population control funds to support programs aimed at reducing feral cat populations. Under the new law, counties can opt to use a portion of the revenue collected from pet registration fees to pay for the four-step program known as trap, neuter, vaccinate and return, or TNVR. The funds come from the same revenue pool – $10 set aside from each pet registration – used to spay, neuter or sterilize dogs or cats for low-income residents, according to Sen. Linda Holmes, who sponsored the legislation. 

Contact Kristen Thometz: @kristenthometz | [email protected] | (773) 509-5452

Note: This story was originally published Dec. 18.

Related stories:

Restaurants, Advocates Prep for New Food Allergy Law Starting Jan. 1

Dec. 15: Starting next month, some restaurant managers must be formally trained in food allergy safety. But an informal survey by the Illinois Food Allergy Education Association indicates not all restaurants are aware of the new rules.

Cancer Survivor Pushing for State Law on Dense Breast Notifications

Dec. 6: Glenview resident Patti Beyer is advocating for a state law that would require mammography reports to inform women if they have dense breast tissue, a risk factor for cancer. “It’s already in the lab report to the doctor but unless the doctor tells you, it’s kept from you,” she said.

Rick Steves Advocates for Marijuana Legalization in Illinois

Nov. 28: The host of the popular PBS travel show testifies before a legislative panel on the legalization of marijuana. “I’m not pro-marijuana,” Rick Steves told us. “I’m really anti-prohibition and I’m pro-civil liberties.”

17 New Illinois Laws to Know in 2017

Dec. 29, 2016: Higher city property taxes and a slew of new state laws go into effect at the start of the New Year. We give you the rundown.

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