As a new year begins, Illinois residents may be interested to learn about several notable new laws that take effect January 1.
The new laws kicking off 2020 cover everything from protecting children under DCFS care to safeguarding individuals’ privacy and personal information.
New DCFS requirements seek to better protect children
The Department of Children and Family Services spent much of 2019 under scrutiny following its mishandling of the abuse of a five-year-old child, who was later beaten to death by his parents.
This tragic event, along with other mishandled issues inside the Department, led the General Assembly to take a more in-depth look into the agency and pass several new requirements to better protect the children under DCFS care.
Beginning January 1, DCFS will have to meet the following requirements:
· House Bill 831/PA 101-0043: DCFS must notify the Department of Public Health and the Department of Healthcare and Family Services of all reports involving children alleged to have been abused or neglected while hospitalized.
· House Bill 3587/PA 101-0155: DCFS must establish and maintain a toll-free number to respond to requests from the public about its post-placement and post-adoption support services.
· Senate Bill 1743/PA 101-0166: DCFS must develop and conduct a standardized survey to gather feedback from children who are aging out or have transitioned out of the foster care system, and place a locked suggestion box in each group home and shelter.
· House Bill 1551/PA 101-0237: DCFS must comply with several new guidelines when a child in its custody is returned to their parents or guardian.
· Senate Bill 1239/ PA 101-0583: DCFS must report alleged abuse or neglect of a child by a person who is not the child’s parent, a member of the child’s immediate family, a person responsible for the child’s welfare, an individual residing in the same home of the child or a paramour of the child’s parent to the appropriate local enforcement agency.
Senator McClure voted in favor of all of these important new protections for children.
New laws protect pets
Laws protecting pets are among those that will take effect January 1.
HB 3390/PA 101-0210 requires pet boarding facilities that do not have 24/7 staffing to be equipped with a fire sprinkler system or a fire alarm monitoring system that triggers notification to local emergency responders. This new law was in response to a fire at a West Chicago kennel that killed several animals.
Also, at the start of the new year, cat owners will be required to have their cats vaccinated for rabies. All cats four months or older, excluding feral cats, must receive a rabies vaccination and have a subsequent vaccination within a year of the first one occurring.
Senator McClure voted "yes" to both of these new laws regarding pets.
New laws ensure privacy, protect personal information
Protecting individuals’ personal information is the intent behind several new laws taking effect January 1.
House Bill 2189/PA 101-0132 prohibits direct-to-consumer commercial genetic testing companies from sharing any genetic test information or other personally identifiable information about a consumer with any health or life insurance company without written consent from the consumer.
Under Senate Bill 1624/PA 101-0343, data breaches impacting more than 500 Illinois residents as a result of a single breach must be reported in the most expedient time possible to the Attorney General.
House Bill 2408/PA 101-0385 prohibits a person from posting private compromising images of another person online. It also provides for a process for a person to obtain a “take-down” order to have the images removed.
All three of these privacy protections received "yes" votes from Senator McClure.
Recreational cannabis sales begin January 1
Starting January 1, Illinois will join 10 other states and the District of Columbia in allowing the purchase and use of recreational cannabis.
Once the New Year begins, Illinois residents ages 21 and older can buy and possess up to 30 grams of cannabis or 5 grams of concentrate from a licensed dispensary. Out-of-state residents will only be able to purchase up to 15 grams of cannabis or 2.5 grams of concentrate. Furthermore, medical marijuana cardholders will be allowed to grow up to five plants.
Although sales will begin January 1, the number of locations at which consumers will be able to purchase cannabis products will be limited for several months. That’s because the state is currently only approving recreational licenses for existing medical cannabis dispensaries. The state will begin to award licenses for new business owners later in the year.
As of December 11, 30, medical dispensaries had been approved to sell recreational cannabis starting January 1. However, the new law allows local municipalities to deny the sale of recreational cannabis within their jurisdiction. Therefore, depending on local ordinance, not all approved medical dispensaries will be allowed to sell cannabis for recreational use.
As a reminder from law enforcement agencies, public consumption and driving under the influence of cannabis are still illegal.
After significant negotiations to add in protections for businesses and communities, Senator McClure voted in favor of regulating cannabis sales.
New laws ensure children receive proper healthcare
Ensuring children get the medical care they deserve is the goal of several new laws taking effect on January 1.
School-aged children who are registered as medical cannabis patients will be allowed to take their medication at school under Senate Bill 455/PA 101-0370. This new law requires all schools, under the supervision of a school nurse or administrator, to administer medical cannabis to qualifying patients while on school premises or at a school-sponsored activity. The product must be stored with the school nurse at all times and only accessible to themselves or an administrator.
Also, starting January 1, insurance companies will be required to provide coverage for EpiPen injectors for children. EpiPen is the brand name of a device that delivers the drug epinephrine, which is a life-saving medication used when someone is experiencing a severe allergic reaction. House Bill 3435/PA 101-0281 requires companies offering health insurance policies in Illinois to pay for these devices as long as they are deemed "medically necessary" for the child.
And in an effort to prevent infant deaths caused by Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), coroners will have to follow stricter requirements following an investigation. Often, infant deaths are attributed to SIDS, even when there are several unsafe factors present at the scene where the infant passed that could have contributed to the death. Senate Bill 1568/PA 101-0338 requires coroners to fill out a form listing any environmental factors pertinent to the infant's death. It requires the Department of Public Health to use that information to publish materials concerning SIDS.
McClure supported these health protections for children in the Illinois Senate by voting "yes."
New laws address sexual misconduct
Laws addressing sexual misconduct are among those that will take effect January 1.
House Bill 2135/PA 101-0130 removes the statute of limitations for criminal sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual assault, and aggravated criminal sexual abuse. This new law allows victims to press charges at any time after the incident occurred. Previously, victims had to come forward within 10 years of the offense.
Also, at the start of the New Year, schools will have to follow some new requirements. Under Senate Bill 1798/PA 101-0418, school districts must create, implement, and maintain an age-appropriate sexual harassment policy, post it on their websites, and include it in their student handbooks. Under House Bill 3550/PA 101-0579, sex education classes must include an age-appropriate discussion on the meaning of consent.
As a former prosecutor, Senator McClure was proud to vote for these two new important laws.
The full list of new laws taking effect on January 1st
There’s more to know before 2020 kicks off! To view a full list of laws taking effect January 1, visit: http://senatormcclure.com/Resources/b7337b27-572c-458d-996c-15bf7c742641/Jan1NewLawsCategorizedFINAL.pdf.