The year is already nearing the end of the first quarter, and numerous laws that were promised have already gone into effect – with a few more trailing behind.
Illinois lawmakers have passed over 200 new laws that were expected to hit January 1, 2018, and many of these laws will affect you as a resident; therefore, you should be aware of them and what they mean for the rest of the year.
What are the New Laws for 2018 in Chicago?
You have a handful of laws that might seem silly, but they were explicitly designed to protect consumers and residents of the state. Other laws will protect business owners, and many others you would not have to worry about unless you were in a specific situation yourself.
Price List for Services
Here is an interesting new law that went into effect January 1, 2018. In Chicago and the rest of the state, all dry cleaners, hair salons, and tailors are required to provide a price list of their services. The purpose of this law is to create transparency between company and consumer. Historically, women have paid more for services. Therefore these laws are designed to protect the female consumer and ensure they are paying the same prices as their male counterpart.
Car Dealerships See Changes Too
Car dealerships typically have “for sale” and price lists on the windows of vehicles on their lot. However, the new laws require that all dealerships remove the stickers properly before that car leaves the lot. This law was created in response to the death of a young man who was test driving a vehicle and a “for sale” sign on his windshield made it impossible for him to see.
Teen Drivers Become Organ Donors
Another interesting transportation law released in 2018 is that teen drivers can be organ donors. Before, you had to be 18 years or older to designate yourself as an organ donor on your license. However, 16-year-old drivers can now also register as an organ donor when they receive their drivers’ license.
Traveling circuses coming into Illinois need to abide by new rules. In 2018, elephants are no longer allowed in circuses, and all traveling exhibits are banned from having elephants in their display as well. Illinois is the first state to implement this law, but not likely to be the last. Elephants are still allowed in the state’s zoos.
Pets Become a Matter of Custody
Another interesting law for 2018 is how pets will be handled in a divorce. The courts will now consider dogs, cats, and other domestic animals as part of the custody discussion. Judges will consider what is in the best interest of the animal, and that is because animals are often a contested issue in divorces, but the law never allowed for there to be a custody arrangement – unless couples agreed outside of court.
A highly controversial law for 2018 is that abortions will now be available to women on Medicaid and state employees. The approval of the bill sparked negativity, but for many, it is a long overdue law.
Laws on Gun Violence
With the school shootings and increased gun violence throughout the nation, Emanuel and Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson won approval for his law, which was to increase the sentencing for anyone who commits a crime repeatedly with guns. Instead of the usual three to 14 years, judges can use seven to fourteen years for repeated gun violence.
Harsher penalties are assumed to deter criminals from repeating bad behaviors, but also reconsider bringing deadly weapons. There are also several provisions in that same law that work to reduce the prison population.
Other Laws Affecting the Criminal Sector
Some of the other laws that will affect how criminal proceedings are handled in the state include:
- Murder Accusations – Any defendant accused of murder cannot reduce their potential sentence by using the “gay panic” defense. This once accepted defense was that a person could say their violent acts were excused because they just learned that the victim was gay. Sexual orientation is no longer acceptable provocation for second-degree homicide.
- Religious Crimes – Any crime committed in a religious structure will now be considered for the hate crime charge too.
- Cyberstalking – Stalking and cyberstalking will now be considered a matter of hate crimes, which was pushed by Attorney General Lisa Madigan in concerns over the increased number of cases where victims are harassed via phone and email.
- State Prison Releases – To help prisoners get back on their feet, those leaving the system will receive a copy of their birth certificate free of charge. This prevents them from being unable to obtain housing or employment, and it will also ensure that they can quickly enter rehabilitation programs.
- Forfeiture Laws – The state’s civil forfeiture laws have been addressed. These laws allow law enforcement and the prosecution to seize land, money, and other assets of a suspected criminal and auction them.
Changes to Health Laws
A few healthcare laws have been enacted for 2018 as well, and these could affect any health care changes you see or how insurance companies and healthcare providers treat you. These changes include:
- Federal versus State Healthcare Changes – Illinois is pushing back against the potential federal changes in the healthcare system. They created laws that will bar health insurers from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, and they also will prevent employers from penalizing any employee who does not want to give genetic information or use the company’s wellness program.
- Transgender Healthcare – Another law was passed to allow those who are transgender to change their sex on their birth certificate. The law provides for a change if a mental health professional and physician both confirm that they have received the treatment to transition into their preferred gender.
Laws Regarding Life Insurance and Consumer Affairs
Another change that was pushed by Treasurer Michael Frerichs is that life insurance companies must now tell families if they are owed any benefits from policies starting in 2000. These companies must compare electronic records with SSA’s Death Master File to determine what payouts are due.
Customers can also now post their reviews online without any retribution. The new law ensures businesses cannot enforce any no disparagement clause to prevent customers from writing negative reviews about their business – and ensures consumers can share their opinion and experiences without being sued by the company.
Laws Regarding Illinois Schools
A few interesting bills went into effect January 1, 2018 for educators, including:
- Preschool and early education programs cannot expel students for bad behavior. Instead, they are required to find the right program or service that helps the child so that they may adjust their behaviors and move on to kindergarten. If there is a safety concern, however, the school still has the right to remove the child, but only temporarily.
- Public schools now must create a designated space for students who have children and need to breastfeed. Also, these schools must provide their students feminine hygiene products for free. Some students have missed days at school because these services are not provided to them; therefore, the school district feels they will have better attendance records offering these to their students for free.
Protections for Domestic Violence Victims
Victims of domestic violence can break cellphone contracts to change their phone number without penalty from the provider. The new law lets them also keep their phone number and plan if they choose to leave the abuser’s plan under SB57.
Honoring the Dead
A new law also allows rules for the public to scatter a loved one’s ashes in state parks if there is a request made in their loved one’s estate plan under SB1586.
Barack Obama Day
Illinois will now have Barack Obama Day, which is the state holiday and will be celebrated for its first time in 2018. The holiday is observed to honor President Obama and will be done each year on August 4th – the former President’s birthday.
To prevent the growing numbers of veteran suicide, SB 866 now forces the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to give all vets information and provide resources for mental health, including assisting them with the treatment necessary so that they can cope with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Protections for Military Members
Military members often receive orders to leave, only to find themselves battling utility companies over contracts. The new HB2449 allows active duty military to cancel these contracts without any penalties. If they have a 90-day warning, they can cancel all or suspend them without breach of contract fees.
Have a Legal Question about an Injury? Speak with an Attorney
Most of the laws passed this year will have nothing to do with personal injury, but even so, many changes in tort law are not published in the news – and most people would never realize are happening in the background.
Luckily, you have attorneys who stay apprised of the latest changes, verdicts that influence case outcomes, and they remain up-to-date on legislative changes to ensure nothing will affect your case negatively.
If you have been seriously injured, speak with an attorney from Malman Law today and let us help you receive the compensation you deserve. Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation today at 312-629-0999.