The new year usually brings with it hundreds of new laws in Illinois. But like everything else in recent history, the coronavirus pandemic has changed that up, too.
On Jan. 1, 2021, only a trio of new laws will take effect.
Why? Members of the Illinois General Assembly met in May for a four-day special session to pass a budget and respond to the pandemic, but were unable to pass a bill that would allow legislators to convene virtually.
Amid a resurgence of coronavirus cases, legislative leaders canceled the scheduled November veto session.
The new laws taking effect on New Year’s Day were actually passed in 2019. A fourth law establishing income tax brackets would’ve gone into effect had voters in November had passed the “fair tax” amendment — which they didn’t.
Here’s a breakdown of the new laws:
Capping insulin costs
Illinois is the second state in the country to limit out-of-pocket costs for prescription insulin by capping copayments at $100 for a 30-day supply, regardless of the type and amount of insulin needed.
“Just over a year ago the legislature passed Senate Bill 667, and by doing so sent a resounding message to health insurance companies and Big Pharma that routinely prioritize profits over the wellbeing of people,” state Sen. Andy Manar, who sponsored the bill, said in a recent press release. “We don’t have to accept the status quo. We can change the fact that prescription medication costs more in the United States than any place in the world.”
Roughly 1.3 million Illinoisans are living with diabetes and rely on insulin to manage their blood sugar levels, according to Manar’s office.
Protecting the privacy of survivors
HB2818 allows survivors of sexual assault and stalking to keep their addresses confidential, making that information accessible only to law enforcement or other government entities.
“People who have lived through sexual assault and stalking deserve protection from their assailants, both in and out of the courtroom,” state Rep. Terra Costa Howard, who spearheaded the law, said in August 2019 when Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the measure into law. “This new law keeps victims’ addresses confidential, so they can stand up and seek justice without fear of their attacker using court records to find out where they live.”
Previously, these protections were limited to survivors of domestic violence and those who have a credible fear for their own safety or of the safety of their children, according to Costa Howard’s office.
Using DNA to find missing people
Law enforcement can collect DNA samples when someone goes missing, including from family members who volunteer to submit samples.
“Finding people who have gone missing is difficult, but there are modern tools that will make that easier,” state Rep. John Connor, who sponsored the bill, said in August 2019. “This legislation is about ensuring those tools are utilized.”
The new law also requires law enforcement to submit information to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, which Connor says acts as a national clearinghouse for missing people and unidentified bodies.
“This legislation is about ensuring that when we search for missing people we pool our resources, and make the search national as soon as possible when the situation warrants,” Connor said. “When lives are on the line, we need to ensure we are dedicating every available resource to bring missing persons home safely and swiftly.”
Note: This story was originally published Dec. 28, 2020. It has been updated to include our “Chicago Tonight” video.