New laws for 2020

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The Illinois General Assembly passed hundreds of new laws last year that will affect citizens in 2020. 

Here are some of the most impactful. 

Starting today, adult-use, recreational marijuana is legal in the state. 

Illinois residents are allowed to possess 30 grams of cannabis flower, 500 milligrams of a marijuana-infused product and five grams of cannabis concentrate. Non-residents can possess half those amounts.

Consumption of marijuana is banned in public places, however, unless a licensed marijuana facility or certain lounges obtain local government clearance for allowing use at their facilities.

Cannabis legalization also provided for the expungement of low-level cannabis convictions and criminal records in Illinois. 

The other headliner is the minimum wage, which increased by $1 to $9.25 an hour on Jan. 1. The wage will increase to $10 hourly in July before increasing $1 per hour each January until it hits $15 by 2025.

Similarly, a new law says tips must go to the employee, not the employer. The law provides that gratuities are the property of employees and that employers shall not keep gratuities. 

It also requires tips be paid to employees within 13 days after the end of the pay period during which the gratuities were earned. 

Starting this month, Illinois will also be taking some more money out of citizens’ pockets through new taxes and fees that help fund a multi-year $45 billion capital infrastructure plan. 

Registration fees for passenger vehicles increased to $151 from $101, while electric vehicle registration fees increased to $251 annually from $34 every other year.

The licensing fee for a trailer weighing less than 3,000 pounds increased to $118 from $18, with every weight class above that also seeing a $100 increase.

A new tax on parking garages also takes effect this month, with a 6 percent rate applied to hourly and daily garages and a 9 percent rate applied to monthly.

Finally, the state now taxes the value of traded-in vehicles starting after $10,000 of value, down from $20,000.

In other automobile-related legislation, the maximum fine for hitting a construction worker with a vehicle will increase to $25,000, up from $10,000.

Additionally, those violating Scott’s Law by failing to reduce speed or change lanes when an emergency vehicle is stopped on the side of the road will see increased fines in the new year. 

The minimum fine for a first offense will increase to $250 from $100, while the minimum for a second offense will be $750.

Money collected from such violations will go to a Scott’s Law Fund to produce driver education materials. The maximum fine will remain at $10,000. 

The law also increases the severity of violations that result in the death or harm to a first responder to a Class 2 felony.

In a related matter, the burial benefit for a firefighter, state police or local law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty will double to $20,000.

Passing a stopped school bus that has its “STOP” arm extended will now result in a $300 fine, up from $150 for the first offense. The second offense will cost drivers $1,000, up from $500.

Offenses like that may happen less now because the state looked to curb distracted driving by clarifying that motorists can not watch streaming video while driving. 

Also in the area of law enforcement, penalties are getting harsher for crimes committed in places of worship. 

A new law states that a person commits aggravated assault or aggravated battery when he or she commits an assault or battery in a church or any place used for religious worship.

Another new law removed the statute of limitations for other serious crimes: criminal sexual assault, aggravated criminal sex assault or aggravated criminal sex abuse.

In the realm of education, efforts to make schools safer continued with the expansion of the offense of disorderly misconduct, which now covers threats against schools that are made online or do not specifically mention a bomb. 

The state also now mandates that sex education in grades 6-12 is required to include an age-appropriate discussion on the meaning of consent. 

In the insurance field,  insurers in Illinois will be required to cover the costs of medically necessary epinephrine injectors, commonly referred to by the brand name EpiPen, for persons under 18 years old. 

Insurers must also cover skin cancer screenings and diagnostic mammograms.

Last, pets got a little safer because a law requires a kennel operator to install a fire alarm monitoring system that notifies local first responders or fire sprinklers when activated. 

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