Fresh set of laws ushered in Jan. 1

With a new year comes new laws for Illinois. Here are a few notable additions to the state’s rule book:


• To address a shortage of substitute teachers throughout the state, students enrolled in approved teacher training programs who have earned at least 90 credit hours are now allowed to obtain a substitute teaching license. Before, applicants had to hold a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited institution of higher education.

Cheryl Moore, director of human resources for Hinsdale High School District 86, welcomed the measure.

“I appreciate the Illinois State Board of Education looking for ways to assist school districts with the staffing challenges we have all faced. District 86 would consider someone for a substitute position who met the qualifications, and especially if they had completed student teaching with us and did a good job,” Moore said.

But she noted that the college students would need to live in the area and have ample availability during the day, not often the case for enrolled students.

“I do not anticipate there will be a large number of candidates,” she said. “It would have to be the right scenario. I think it’s worth a shot, though.”

• In an effort to get more people to pursue careers in human services, college loan repayment grants will be given to qualified individuals who work for a human services agency that contracts with or is grant-funded by a state agency that provides “direct or indirect services that ensure that individuals have essential elements to build and maintain physical, emotional, and economic well-being at every phase of life.” Maximum grant amounts, for up to four years, are $3,000 per year earning an associate degree, $15,000 per year for earning a bachelor’s degree and $25,000 per year for earning a master’s degree or higher, with a $5,000 per-year add-on for holding certain professional licenses.


• To expand the number of behavioral health care professionals in Illinois, lawmakers have accelerated the process for out-of-state clinicians to receive licensure in Illinois and streamlined requirements for social workers, professional counselors and clinical psychologists with recently inactive licenses.

“This effort will improve opportunities for residents needing mental or behavioral health care and workers willing and able to provide that care,” said state Sen. Suzy Glowiak Hilton (D-24, Western Springs), Hinsdale’s state senator and a supporter of the measure. “With this law, Illinois aims to reduce barriers for potential patients, so that all who seek mental and behavioral health care could get better access.” 

The law also includes initiatives to support diversity in the mental health field and establishes tax credits to encourage more quality, accessible care to those seeking assistance.

• Insurance policies in the state must now cover prenatal vitamins to promote healthy pregnancies and fetal development, according to Glowiak Hilton.

“Prenatal supplements can be vital to the safety and wellness of mothers and their children,” she said. “With this law, Illinois is offering protections to pregnant women and reducing barriers to quality care.”

SAFE-T Act stay

Implementation of the SAFE-T Act provision that would have eliminated cash bail on Jan. 1 was put on hold following Kankakee County Judge Thomas Cunnington’s Dec. 28 decision that lawmakers overreached their constitutional authority in abolishing cash bail. The ruling initially applied to just 64 of the state’s 102 counties, but the Illinois Supreme Court Dec. 31 stayed the no cash bail provision statewide.

Attorney General Kwame Raoul, who is appealing Cunnington’s ruling, and the other parties agreed last week that oral arguments before the Supreme Court would begin sometime in March.

In addition to eliminating cash bail, the criminal justice reform act limits the number of offenses for which pretrial detention can be ordered but gives judges authority to keep an individual incarcerated pretrial if they’re accused of more serious offenses.

Other additions

 • People who own vehicles that were manufactured in Illinois can apply for a one-time $25 rebate on their registration fees if the vehicle is manufactured in the state. The application for title almost must be made no more than one year after the month in which the vehicle was manufactured.

• Illinois has two new state symbols: the eastern milksnake is now the official state snake, and dolostone has been established as the official state rock. Both designations came about as the result of initiatives by middle school and elementary students.

­— Capitol News Illinois contributed to this story

Author Bio

Ken Knutson is associate editor of The Hinsdalean