2015 saw its first Republican governor in 12 years–ushering in a new sense of bipartisanship that has challenged the status-quo and made reforming state government a top priority.
While Senate Republicans continue to push for passage of a balanced budget for this fiscal year and reforms that will boost Illinois’ economy and create jobs, there were many legislative achievements this year that are moving Illinois forward. Click here to watch an overview of the most notable new laws that go into effect Jan. 1, 2016.
The Senate Republicans also want to wish you and your family a happy holiday season!
Also, in addition to passing much needed reforms to state government and a balanced budget, Senate Republicans are looking forward to 2016 and making Illinois an even better place to live and work. Check out this video to see what some of their other goals are for 2016.
Both the Illinois Senate and House of Representatives are scheduled to return to Springfield Jan. 13.
New laws taking effect Jan. 1, 2016
On Jan. 1, 2016, 237 new laws go into effect in Illinois, including measures that impact fighting crime, government transparency, business, hunting, health, and family.
When it comes to fighting crime, several news laws are making public safety a top priority. For example, individuals who continue to endanger citizens on Illinois roadways by repeatedly driving under the influence of alcohol, will have another barrier that can prevent them from getting back behind the wheel. Sen. Jason Barickman’s Senate Bill 627/PA 99-0467 requires individuals convicted of two or more DUIs or reckless homicide convictions to install a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device as a condition of a Restricted Driving Permit.
Another new law taking effect Jan. 1, spearheaded by Sen. Kyle McCarter, goes after designer drug manufacturers. Senate Bill 1129/PA 99-0371 combats dangerous synthetic or designer street drugs by targeting how they are made and allowing prosecutors to not have to wait as long for lab tests to show if the synthetic drug involved was illegal.
In addition, the sale of powdered caffeine to anyone younger than 18 and the sale of products consisting of or containing powdered alcohol will be prohibited under two new laws (Senate Bill 9/PA 99-0050 and Senate Bill 67/PA 99-0051).
Those who call 9-1-1 in 2016 better be sure it’s a legitimate emergency. Individuals convicted of making false or prank calls to 9-1-1 call centers or making other false reports to emergency responders could be held responsible for reimbursing the costs incurred by the responding emergency agency under House Bill 3988/PA 99-0160.
As more police officers start to use body cameras, Senate Bill 1304/PA 99-0352 establishes new rules and regulations for officers who use the technology. The new law requires police officers who wear a body camera, to keep it on when conducting any law enforcement activities, among other rules.
Addressing health concerns
Keeping people healthy and avoiding terrible diseases are the goals of a new law sponsored by Sen. Christine Radogno. Any child-care facility that takes care of children ages 6 and younger, must show proof their employees received the Tdap vaccine and have received two doses of the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine or provide proof of immunity under a new law (Senate Bill 986/PA 99-0267) that goes into effect Jan. 1.
Major airports in Illinois will have one year to establish a private breast-feeding area set up behind the security screening process in 2016. Senate Bill 344/PA 99-0228 also requires this area to include a chair and an electrical outlet and be outside the confines of a public restroom.
Illinois joins several other states Jan. 1 with a new law that can help save or prolong people’s lives. Terminally-ill patients in Illinois will have access to clinical-trial, experimental medical treatments and medications, thanks to the Right to Try law (House Bill 1335/ PA 99-0270) sponsored by Sen. Michael Connelly.
Increasing government transparency and efficiency
In keeping with the late Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka’s tradition of government transparency, Senate Bill 903/PA 99-0393 ensures that the Online Ledger and The Warehouse will continue to provide state financial records, official reports, and local government finances to taxpayers. Sen. Karen McConnaughay sponsored this legislation in honor of Judy Baar Topinka.
Improving our economy, boosting jobs
Illinois continues to rank near the bottom when it comes to being a business-friendly state. In 2015, however, Sen. Sue Rezin led the effort in one of the very few pro-growth, pro-jobs business reforms passed by the General Assembly during the spring session. Senate Bill 1672/PA 99-0463 will allow businesses to file and receive a permit directly from the state, instead of going through the federal government. That will speed up the application time and provide for more certainty for job creators.
New hunting laws
Hunting is a very popular activity, especially in downstate Illinois. In 2016, under a new law spearheaded by Sen. Sam McCann, hunters will be able to hunt bobcats to control overpopulation and keep the animal at healthy numbers. House Bill 352/PA 99-0033 sets the dates for the bobcat hunting season from Nov. 1 through Feb. 15.
In an effort to boost tourism for downstate communities and to put a focus on the family, Sen. Chapin Rose sponsored House Bill 3234/PA 99-0307 to raise the age cap for youth hunting licenses from 16 to 18.
Civics in our classrooms
In the classroom in 2016, to help high school students better understand government and the democratic process, a civics course requirement has been added to high school curriculum through House Bill 4025/PA 99-0434.
Pumpkin pie becomes the official state pie
With 90 percent of pumpkins grown in the nation produced in Illinois, House Bill 208/PA 99-0364 recognizes that fact by making pumpkin pie the official state pie.
Christmas tree disposal in Illinois
Following the Christmas holiday, it is important to know how and where to dispose of real Christmas trees.
According to pickyourownchristmastree.org/Illinois, before putting your Christmas tree on the curb for pick-up, it is important to remove all lights, wire, tinsel, ornaments, nails, tree stands, other NON-organic decorative materials, and other materials that are not part of the original tree. Flocked trees are usually accepted, but not artificial trees. Large trees (larger than the standard 6-7 ft. tree) may need to be cut in half to be picked up by your garbage hauler.
In many city and suburban areas, trees are chipped and made into mulch and are usually available for free to residents. It is advised that you do not burn your Christmas tree in a fireplace or wood stove.
Click here for more information about tree pickup and disposal in your city or town. If your area have other questions, contact your local trash collection agency.
Record number of holiday travelers expected in Illinois
Lower gas prices and higher incomes are expected to increase holiday travels to record highs this year, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA).
A projected 4.8 million people are expected to travel in Illinois this holiday season. AAA reports this is a two percent increase from 2014.
While concerns over crowded roadways and traffic this holiday season should be considered, AAA says travel should be manageable, as it is spread out over a 12-day period between Christmas and the New Year.
Some tips for holiday traveling: make sure to properly prepare your car by ensuring you have a spare tire, jumper cables, and a full battery. It’s also advised to check your air pressure in your tires.
For traffic and construction updates, check out this website: travelmidwest.com.