State Government

Turn to 2012 means 200-plus new Illinois laws

When you wake up Sunday morning, you’ll greet more than 200 new Illinois laws that go into effect with the new year.

If you take a drive to the pharmacy to get something to deal with that four-alarm hangover, everyone in your back seat, adults and children alike, have to be buckled up. If you’re instead looking for your lost pet, animal shelters have to be more diligent in efforts to reunite you with Fido.

And if, for whatever reason, you take the family to ring in 2012 by shining laser lights into airplane cockpits, you could start the year with a misdemeanor ticket.

Here are a few of the laws that the General Assembly has passed that are taking effect Sunday:

Driving: House Bill 219 requires all back-seat riders, not just minors, to wear seat belts or face a fine of up to $25. The law, which exempts buses, taxis and emergency vehicles, was the last sponsored by local Republican state Rep. Mark Beaubien before he died in June.

The law also exempts people who are riding in trailers, farm wagons or other towed vehicles. Parade participants, too, are exempt.

Motorcycles now can proceed through red lights under House Bill 2860 if the light does not change after a “reasonable amount of time” because it fails to detect the driver.

Right to know: Andrea’s Law, or House Bill 263, requires all people convicted of first-degree murder to register for 10 years after their release, with that information available on a searchable online database.

The law was named for Andrea Will, a Batavia woman strangled in 1998 by ex-boyfriend Justin Boulay. He was released in 2010 after serving only 12 years, or half his sentence, and moved to Hawaii to be with his new wife.

People now will be able to view Illinois hospital report cards on the Illinois Department of Public Health website with the passage of House Bill 1562. As of July 1, 2012, the Illinois Department of Revenue website will have a database of all local government tax rates with the passage of Senate Bill 43.

House Bill 1670 requires elected officials to take the Attorney General’s training program on the Illinois Open Meetings Act. Officials who fail to comply are ineligible for re-election. Public bodies that mandate having an attorney or parliamentarian present at each meeting are exempt.

Drugs: It is now illegal in Illinois to buy, sell or possess synthetic marijuana. House Bill 2592 widened a ban that took effect in 2011 on specific brands, such as Spice and K2. A separate bill that took effect in July makes it illegal to possess bath salts, which can create a euphoric high if ingested. Illinois joined 10 other states in a ban after a downstate woman overdosed on bath salts and died.

Abuse and exploitation: Two laws passed by lawmakers toughen penalties on the sexual abuse of children.

House Bill 3283 makes it a Class X felony to produce or possess film, videotape or other moving image of child pornography, which is harsher than the Class 1 felony for shooting or possessing still photographs.

Senate Bill 1038 increases penalties for child sex offenses if the person has a prior sex offense conviction. The law also requires people convicted of trying to lure children for sexual purposes to undergo sex offender evaluation before sentencing.

Another law, House Bill 1689, stiffens the penalties for financial abuse of the elderly or disabled, such as stealing money or possessions and cashing Social Security checks without permission.

School safety: School boards have the power to suspend and expel students who make explicit online threats against fellow students or school employees under House Bill 3281.

House Bill 147 allows school bus companies with a reasonable suspicion that a driver is impaired by drugs or alcohol to require testing before driving. Refusal to take the test results in an automatic three-year suspension of the driver’s permit.

Pets: Senate Bill 1637 aims to increase the odds of reuniting lost pets with their owners.

Animal shelters as of Sunday must scan animals for microchips twice – once within 24 hours of their arrival and again prior to adoption, transfer or euthanasia. Gov. Pat Quinn signed the bill in August, several weeks after his beloved Yorkshire terrier, Bailey, died at age 14.

Trash: As of 2012, it is illegal for residents to dispose of electronic waste in their trash, or for landfills to accept such waste. Consumers must take their e-waste, such as computers, TV sets, video game consoles and recorders, to registered recyclers for proper management.

Odd and end: House Bill 167 makes it a misdemeanor to shine a laser light into a plane cockpit during takeoff or landing.

The bill was inspired by a Federal Aviation Administration report that pilots reported the second-highest number of such instances in the Chicago area. The 2,800 pilot-reported instances nationwide in 2010 was double the number in 2009.

Loading more

Digital Access

Digital Access
Access from all your digital devices and receive breaking news and updates from around the area.

Home Delivery

Home Delivery
Local news, prep sports, Chicago sports, local and regional entertainment, business, home and lifestyle, food, classified and more! News you use every day! Daily, weekend and Sunday packages.

Text Alerts

Text Alerts
Stay connected to us wherever you are! Get breaking news updates along with other area information sent to you as a text message to your wireless device.

Email Newsletters

Email Newsletters
We'll deliver news & updates to your inbox. Plan your weekend and catch up on the news with our newsletters.