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Circus elephants banned
Among new laws in Illinois
By Steve Metsch
It wouldn’t be the new year without dozens of new laws on the books in Illinois.
Here’s a look at some of the more interesting laws that take effect on Monday, Jan. 1:
More people in need of transplants may benefit as drivers who are 16- and 17-years-old will have the option of agreeing to be organ or tissue donors when they apply for their driver’s licenses. Previously, you had to be 18 to agree to help save lives. HB 1805
If you are going through a divorce, there’s more to consider than who gets the china. When pets are considered marital assets, divorce proceedings can now include which partner gets custody of Fido, Tabby or the fish. SB 1261.
It won’t be the same going to the circus. Illinois is the first state to ban the use of elephants in circuses and other traveling exhibitions. The only place you can see elephants will be in non-traveling institutions and zoos. SB 1342.
If you’ve ever driven through rural parts of the Land of Lincoln, you won’t be surprised to know that corn is now the official State Grain of Illinois. Sources say the soy bean boosters were not amused. HB 470.
A new law prohibits motor vehicle dealers from allowing a driver to leave the premises in a vehicle with any type of signs or decals on windows that would obstruct the driver’s view. Insert your own “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” joke. HB 733.
In a serious note, each law enforcement agency is now required to develop a written policy to have for the investigation of criminal sexual assaults that involve officers. HB 270.
In a nod to more students having babies, public and charter schools now have to provide reasonable breastfeeding accommodations. HB 2369.
Crimes that are committed on the grounds of a religious facility will be defined as hate crimes, and courts will be allowed to impose a fine based on how severe the crime and damages are, by ending the cap of $1,000. HB 2390.
Intimidation, stalking, cyberstalking and transmission of obscene messages are seen now as possible hate crimes and under a new state law that creates a civil penalty for such crimes. HB 3711.
We’ve all heard of people dying years after they’ve suffered serious injuries in a vehicle accident. A new law removes the statute of limitation on prosecution for aggravated driving under the influence cases that result in death. HB 3084.
You can change the gender designation on your birth certificate without undergoing gender transition. HB 1785.
While we’re not sure how one gets expelled from preschool – perhaps by eating too much pasteg? – early childhood programs will need to find services for young children, helping them resolve their problems instead. HB 2663.
Victims of domestic violence will no longer have pay off or break their cell phone contracts, and they can keep their numbers when they leave their abusers. The new law permits them to keep their number and save on related costs of creating a new account. SB 57.
You no longer have to honor the dead in secret as a new law will provide the Department of Natural Resources to establish rules for the safe and appropriate ways to scatter cremated remains in a state park. No word on what to do about the 2017 Chicago Bears and Soldier Field. SB 1586.
Dogs and cats that have been used in research may have new homes. A new law provides that research facilities make reasonable efforts for the adoption of such animals. SB 1884.
If you’ve seen packs of feral cats roaming around, help may be on the way. A new law allows county animal control agencies to use funds for the trapping, neutering, and vaccination of feral cats. SB 614.
Anyone who’s had a bad meal at a restaurant and wrote about it online will be safe from legal woes. A new law protects the right of customers to leave negative reviews online by prohibiting the enforcement of non-disparagement clauses. SB 1898.
Those with food allergies may have safer dining experiences. A new law requires managers of specified restaurants to undergo accredited food allergen awareness and safety training within 30 days of being hired. And they must be recertified every three years. And, at least one manger who’s been trained must be on duty when the doors are open. HB 2510.
Customers will no longer need play a guessing game when it comes to prices at hair salons, barbers, dry cleaners and tailors, which are now required to provide a price list upon request. SB 298.
Finally, who doesn’t like birthday cake? We can all enjoy a piece on Aug. 4 when Obama Day is celebrated, marking the birthday of our 44th president, Barack Obama. SB 55.
After each is the corresponding House Bill or Senate Bill number. Happy New Year!
— Desplaines Valley News
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Email Steve Metsch at email@example.com