As Illinois marches into the new year, at least 214 new laws will go into effect, thanks to a busy state legislature.
While many of these lack the headline-grabbing appeal of provisions like the civil unions law, casino expansion, the death penalty or the CME Group-Sears tax break package, there are some important nuggets of knowledge to be gleaned from giving them a closer look, especially as both the state and the city of Chicago are increasing their fines for all sorts of rule-benders.
Below is a roundup of 12 of the state's most noteworthy new laws ringing in 2012:
BUCKLE UP, BACK SEAT RIDERS
As of Jan. 1, adults riding in the back seat of a vehicle without being buckled in could be ticketed and fined. House Bill 219, sponsored by the late State Rep. Mark Beaubien, Jr. (R-Barrington Hills), states that failure to comply with the new law could result in a fine of up to $25. Prior to the law, only the front-seat passenger and driver were required to buckle up. Illinois is the 26th state to approve such a law.
Gov. Pat Quinn approved the law in June alongside another piece of legislation which makes it illegal for passengers to ride in trailers, wagons and other similar vehicles being towed on highways.
KEEP ON TRUCKING
A measure sponsored by state Sen. John Sullivan (D-Rushville) allows large trucks to travel the same speed as other vehicles throughout the state, rather than in just some parts, as was previously the case, as CBS Chicago reports.
Truckers, newly banned from using their cell phones while driving, also will now be forced to use hands-free devices, The Expired Meter reports.
RUN A RED LIGHT, BIKERS? YOU'RE OK
Motorcycles and bicycles, often not heavy enough to trigger sensors that switch traffic lights from red to green, will now be allowed to legally pass through that light after waiting two minutes. Previously, the riders would have had to wait for another vehicle to arrive at the traffic light to set off the sensor, as WJBC reports. The measure was sponsored by State Rep. Dan Beiser (D-Alton).
NO PHOTO REQUIRED
The Illinois Secretary of State is now authorized to issue state identification cards to applicants without a photograph, so long as they have a religious objection to being photographed. Rep. Adam Brown (R-Decatur) sponsored the legislation after Amish leaders came to him to request the change. Many in the Amish community reportedly believe that posed photography leads to idolatrous vanity.
House Bill 263, i.e. "Andrea's Law," also goes into effect Jan. 1. The law requires that all individuals convicted of first-degree murder be included on a public database registry for 10 years after their prison sentence is up. The law was inspired by the murder of Andrea Will, a Batavia, Ill. woman who was strangled to death by her boyfriend Justin Boulay.
SURRENDER YOUR FOID
Individuals with an order of protection issued against them must now surrender their Firearm Owners Identification card while the order is valid, per an Associated Press report. Anyone convicted of domestic battery is ineligible to either obtain or keep their FOID, which firearm owners are required to carry to lawfully buy or possess a gun.
FAKE WEED, REAL CONSEQUENCES
2011 was a tough year for the synthetic marijuana industry, at least when it comes to Illinois, as fake weed was banned both statewide (HB 2595) in addition to in Chicago in a provision that went into effect earlier this month, as the Chicago Tribune reports. Possession or sale of products sold under names such as "K2," "Black Mamba" or "Head Trip" is now a felony accompanied with a penalty of one-to-30 years in prison.
The law was sponsored by House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) and crafted by Will County State's Attorney Jim Glasgow.
DISCARD ELECTRONICS WITH CARE
The state's newly expanded Electronic Products Recycling and Reuse Act, approved in August, goes into effect at the start of the year, a law that outlines 13 electronic products that are illegal to throw out in a landfill. As ABC Chicago reports, outlawed products include televisions, laptops, digital converter boxes, printers, computer keyboards, DVD players and digital music players. First-time offenders face a $25 fee.
The rationale behind the law is to cut down on electronic waste and keep toxic materials out of the soil and groundwater, according to the Tribune.
(Scroll down to watch an ABC Chicago report on the new electronics recycling law.)
SCHOOLS CAN TAKE ON WEB BULLYING
House Bill 3281, sponsored by state Rep. Dwight Kay (R-Glen Carbon) goes into effect Sunday and allows school boards and administrators to suspend or even expel a student who threatens another student or a school employee via the Internet.
"Bullying no longer takes place only at school," Kay told the Belleville News-Democrat of the new law. "Bullies use the Internet to follow their victim home and harass them through social networking. This bill gives school boards and administrators a way to deal with online threats from students towards other students, faculty or anyone else."
GOOD NEWS FOR OUR FURRY FRIENDS
Gov. Quinn in August signed into law a measure that will make it more probable that lost pets are reunited with their owners. A new state law requires animal shelters and control centers to scan for implanted microchips, implanted in many dogs or cats, within one day of being taken in. A second scan is also required before the pet can be either adopted, moved to another shelter or center or euthanized.
"When you lose a dog or someone who has been with you with unconditional love for years and years, it really grieves everyone in the family and we want to do everything possible in Illinois to reunited pet owners with their pets," Quinn said of the law, as reported by the Tribune.
LOCK CHANGE REQUIRED IN COOK
A new amendment to the the Illinois Landlord and Tenant Act requires most landlords in Cook County to re-key or otherwise change the locks of the apartments and other properties they own whenever new tenants move in.
The law, as Evanston Now reports, excludes locks on common areas of buildings and does not apply to owner-occupied buildings with four or fewer apartments, nor to the rental of a room in an owner-occupied private home.
In response to acid attacks reported against two Chicago women, including Esperanza Medina, a new state law will require any individuals who buy commercial-grade hydrochloric or sulfuric acid to show identification. Their information will then be entered into a statewide database. As WSIL reported, the law could require that individuals buying products such as pool chemicals or toilet bowl cleaners are added to the database.
WATCH WHERE YOU POINT THAT THING!
House Bill 167, signed by the governor in July, outlaws shining a laser light into a plane cockpit in the midst of either a takeoff or landing. The measure, according to the Northwest Herald, was introduced in response to a Federal Aviation Administration report that 2,800 pilots nationwide reported such an occurrence in 2010, including many in the Chicago area.
For a full rundown of Illinois' new laws going into effect Jan. 1, including tougher laws for those accused of creating and possessing child pornography, stricter penalties for those who take advantage of an elder financially and a number of other provisions, visit the Illinois Review.
WATCH and learn more about the state's updated Electronic Products Recycling and Reuse Act:
Start your workday the right way with the news that matters most. Learn more