New year, new laws - Republic-Times | News

New year, new laws

By on January 2, 2019 at 3:17 pm

On Jan. 1, a number of new laws took effect for Illinois residents and employees.

Two firearm laws top the  list: 

A 72-hour waiting period will be implemented for all firearms, to Illinois and non-Illinois residents alike, including purchases made at gun shows. Previously, only handguns were subject to this waiting period. Violation of this new law is a Class 4 felony. 

The so-called “red flag law” allows family members or police to petition for a restraining order to temporarily remove firearms from an individual displaying threatening or unsafe behavior. If a judge finds the person is a danger to themselves or others, the court can issue an emergency, temporary order for up to 14 days, or a six-month order after a full hearing. The law also allows the court to issue search warrants for the temporarily seizure of a person’s weapons.

A new Employer Reimbursements for Employee Expenses law mandates employers reimburse employees for items like personal phones and computers if they are used for work. 

Before everyone starts having their mobile phone bills sent to their bosses, it is crucial to note this law only applies to phones and computers the boss approves or requires.

The state of Illinois has finally caught up to what the American Academy of Pediatrics has long been recommending, and is now requiring all children to be in rear-facing car seats until the age of 2. The only exemption is for children who weigh more than 40 pounds or are more than 40 inches tall. In their case, they must ride in an approved forward-facing seat.

The state already requires approved safety seats for all children under 8 years of age, although the AAP recommends booster seat usage until the height of 4 feet, 10 inches or age 12. Booster seats ensure shoulder belts are positioned correctly. Correct placement of a shoulder belt can reduce the chance of injuries in a crash by almost half.

Another new law aimed at keeping Illinoisans safe expands stalking laws to include social media, adding unwanted messages to the list of what can constitute stalking.

The new law also provides for schools, organizations, businesses and churches to take out restraining orders against stalkers.

The Illinois General Assembly was looking out for our furrier residents, too. Police officers may now take temporary custody of pets that are suffering from extreme heat, cold or other life-threatening conditions, including breaking into vehicles to get to them. If veterinary care is needed, it will be provided. The pet’s owner will be responsible for any associated costs.

With Illinois averaging 150,000 births annually since 2010, this next law will potentially have far-reaching effects. 

Nursing mothers can request — and be granted — exemption from jury duty. 

Legislators are also making it easier for addicts to receive potentially life-saving treatment.

Under the Emergency Opioid and Addiction Treatment Act, people with substance use disorders can get immediate access to outpatient treatment. Previously, patients couldn’t receive treatment until receiving authorization from their insurance company. 

And, according to the new law, if treatment is denied by insurance, patients can continue to receive treatment for 72 hours while they appeal the decision.

Continuing the crackdown on illicit drugs, all synthetic cannabinoids are illegal if they are not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or if they’re misused. 

School administrators and other staff may see the scopes of their jobs increase with the new 2019 laws.

A new law allows school nurses to keep asthma inhalers, prescribed in the school’s name and not designated for a specific student, on hand to administer to someone with respiratory distress.

All licensed school personnel and administrators who work with K-12 students must be trained every two years to identify the warning signs of mental illness and suicidal behavior in young people, and how to appropriately intervene.

Drivers education teachers will be required to teach the “Dutch Reach” method of opening car doors. The “Dutch Reach” involves the driver opening the driver’s side door with the right hand rather than the left, altering their line of sight and potentially preventing hitting cyclists with the car door.

Bicycle safety will also likely be included in the written portion of the driver’s license exam.

Andrea F.D. Saathoff

Andrea is a graduate of Gibault High School and the University of Missouri School of Journalism, the University of Missouri Harry S Truman School of Public Affairs and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville College of Education. She lives in Columbia with her husband and their twin toddler sons. When she isn't cheering on St. Louis Cardinals baseball or riding the emotional roller coaster of Mizzou Tigers football, she enjoys attending and participating in the many family events the county has to offer. email: andrea@republictimes.net