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More than 250 Illinois laws to take effect following Democratic shake-up

January 1, 2019

Not only did the year 2018 mark the state of Illinois’ bicentennial, but it also denoted some big political shifts.

In November, Democrats regained supermajorities in both chambers, improving the chances of Governor-elect J.B. Pritzker signing off on some of the flagship proposals of his campaign, such as legalizing recreational marijuana and putting a progressive income tax plan on the ballot for voters to consider.

Lawmakers also managed to pass 253 new pieces of legislation that will go into effect Jan. 1, with changes ranging from what kind of car seats children would have to sit in to how long an individual must wait before it can purchase a firearm.

Gun laws

Tom Dorsch, director of On Target Range and Tactical Training Center in Crystal Lake, said his customers have come to terms with Senate Bill 3256, which creates a 72-hour waiting period on all firearms.

The bill will also eliminate current exemptions from the waiting period requirements for the sale of a firearm to a nonresident of the state while at a recognized gun show.

But with another law limiting gun sales in effect, Dorsch said he was concerned what restrictions future legislation might have to gun owners.

“Now that there’s another limit to our freedom to possess firearms, what’s next?” Dorsch said.

Lawmakers also passed House Bill 2354, which would allow family members or law enforcement to petition the court with an allegation that an individual is a threat to his or herself or others by possessing a firearm. The court can then issue search warrants to law enforcement to seize any weapons.

Dorsch said in cases of domestic dispute, common sense would dictate there should be more than one source claiming someone poses a risk before the court can issue such an order.

Opioid epidemic

Those with licenses to prescribe opioids must complete three hours of continuing education on safe opioid-use practices before renewing their prescription licenses.

Another law bars insurance and managed-care companies from requiring prior notification for specified in- or outpatient substance-abuse treatment in order to get those with drug-use disorders the help they need quickly.

The state’s Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, part of the Department of Human Services, will be renamed the Division of Substance Use Prevention and Recovery, and the law governing it will be rewritten to better reflect the priority given to the opioid-abuse epidemic. The aim is to provide clearer guidelines for medical and community-based organizations that provide intervention and treatment, and for insurance companies to adopt a standardized approach to such care.

School safety

In the aftermath of fatal school shootings in Maryland, Kentucky, Texas, Florida and other parts of the country this year, Illinois lawmakers passed several bills to help students and staff be prepared in the event of such a tragedy.

House Bill 4658 requres licensed school personnel and administrators who work with K-12 students to be trained once every two years on how to identify and address the warning signs of mental illness and suicidal behavior in youth.

Senate Bill 2350 requires active shooter or threat safety drills within 90 days of the start of the school year. Drills must be conducted at times where students are present, all school personnel and students present must participate and local law enforcement must observe the drill.

Severance agreements

In a response to a number of lucrative severance packages doled out to government employees that have cost taxpayers millions, lawmakers passed the Government Severance Pay Act.

This new law, Senate Bill 3604, would eliminate “golden parachutes’ for any government employees fired for misconduct and would otherwise set severance pay at an amount not to exceed 20 weeks worth of compensation.

Sen. Tom Cullerton, D-Villa Park, who sponsored the bill, was a vocal critic of the $600,000 severance agreement Northern Illinois University paid to its former president, Doug Baker, who resigned in 2017 following the release of a report from the Office of the Executive Inspector General that concluded he had mismanaged the university.

Child safety

Under House Bill 4377, children younger than two must ride in rear-facing child-restraint seats in automobiles. Children taller than 40 inches or weighing more than 40 pounds are exempt.

The first offense carries a $75 fine at the discretion of local authorities.

Smoking

In addition to local law enforcement agencies, Senate Bill 2514 would give the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and Illinois State Police agencies the ability to enforce soking violations under the Smoke Free Illinois Act.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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