More than 250 new laws, fees in Illinois
Hinsdale’s legislators in Illinois House, Senate, offer their insight on a handful of bills
Last updated 1/14/2020 at 4:01pm | View PDF
Jan. 1 marks the start of a new year — and the enactment of a number of new laws and fees for Illinois residents.
Most are aware of the law making recreational marijuana legal, but it’s just one of more than 250 that went into effect last week.
“We were happy to be able to get as much done as we did,” said state Sen. Suzy Glowiak-Hilton (D-24, Western Springs), who represents Hinsdale and 11 other western suburbs.
State Rep. Deanne Mazzochi (R-47, Elmhurst), whose district also includes Hinsdale, offered praise and criticism of legislators’ work in 2019.
“I think that there are obviously some good things, and certainly some of them I’m happy about because they are bills that I sponsored or co-sponsored,” Mazzochi said. “One of the things I’m obviously disappointed about is the things that need to get done in terms of true structural reform to get the state back on track and get its fiscal house in order didn’t happen.”
One bill Mazzochi co-sponsored will allow any high school student whose grade point average is in the top 10 percent of the class to be automatically accepted to Northern, Southern, Eastern or Western Illinois universities. The law is designed to help avoid the “brain drain” from the state, she said.
“The fewer barriers we have and the easier we can make it to make sure our top students stay in Illinois, the better off we’ll be,” Mazzochi said.
Glowiak-Hilton pointed to a new law passed after a 29 dogs died in a January 2019 kennel fire near West Chicago. The law requires kennels to have monitoring or sprinkler systems.
“I think that’s a great piece of legislation that people weren’t thinking about, and it’s something we can do and help these dog and cat owners. We were all happy to support that,” she said.
Each legislator lauded bills designed to keep Illinois residents safer.
Mazzochi pointed to a bill she co-sponsored that eliminates the statute of limitations on criminal sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual assault and aggravated criminal sexual abuse. In the past, prosecutors had 10 years to bring charges if an offense was reported within three years after it occurred.
“Say you’re engaged in human trafficking or you’re underage, 13, 14,” she said. “By the time you get to a point where you might be able to do something against your abuser, the statute of limitations period could have expired. This gives women a lot more options to actually hold their abusers accountable.”
A cyber security bill Glowiak-Hilton supported requires companies to report a breach to the Illinois attorney general if the data affects 500 or more residents.
“Before there was no accountability,” she said. “There is so much data out there that is being collected by so many people. We have to tighten up what’s happening with it.”
The two cast opposite votes on the minimum wage bill, which increases hourly pay by $1 to $9.25. Subsequent increases will bring the rate to $10 an hour July 1 and $15 an hour on Jan. 1, 2025.
Mazzochi said she would have liked to see a provision to adjust the rate in parts of the state where the cost of living is much lower. She also is concerned businesses will send manufacturing work overseas, automate more jobs or be unable to survive.
“You’re going to get paid more to work this job, it’s just going to disappear next year — that’s not really a win for workers,” she said.
Glowiak-Hilton said she was pleased to support the increase to help a group of workers who have a tough time making ends meet — especially in her district.
“It’s a gradual increase so businesses can adjust,” she said. “We’re giving people time to adjust to the new rates and things they’ll have to do.”
All residents will have to devote more of their earnings to the state. The renewal fee for license plates has tripled ($151 from $50) as part of the “Rebuild Illinois” infrastructure program.
Mazzochi said the fee increase is an unfortunate component of a much-needed capital plan.
“It is absolutely critical to Illinois’ economic growth and development,” she said. “I don’t like raising fees, but I do believe in necessary infrastructure and that was just part of the compromise that got worked out.”
Glowiak-Hilton supported some of the infrastructure programs but did not agree with the funding mechanism.
“I did not believe we should increase fees and taxes in order to pay for that,” she said.
Glowiak-Hilton also lauded legislation that increases fees for drivers who fail to slow down or more over for emergency vehicles on the side of the road and the creation of a full-time Alzheimer’s/dementia coordinator for the state.
“My husband died of Alzheimer’s disease at a very young age,” Glowiak-Hilton said. “It’s very personal to me and important that we support caregivers and support those with the disease.”
Mazzochi praised a new law that allows for harsher penalties when crimes are committed in places of worship and criticized one that makes it easier for people awaiting trail in county jails to cast their ballots, which she believes opens the door for abuse.
“It will make history during the 2020 presidential primary as the first polling place in a jail,” she said.
Other new laws
• The maximum fine for a hitting a construction worker with a vehicle will increase to $25,000 from $10,000.
• Passing a stopped school bus that has its “STOP” arm extended will now result in a $300 fine, up from $150 for the first offense. The second offense will cost drivers $1,000, up from $500.
• Public locations must convert single-occupancy restrooms into all-gender restrooms and designate them for use by no more than one person at a time, or for families or assisted use. Public locations must change exterior signage as well.
• Public buildings will be required to have baby changing facilities in any of their public restrooms.
• The burial benefit for a firefighter, state police or local law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty will increase to $20,000 from $10,000.
• Insurers in the state will be required to cover the costs of medically necessary epinephrine injectors, commonly referred to by the brand name EpiPen, for persons under 18 years old.
— Jerry Nowicki of Capitol News Illinois contributed to this story.