New Laws, Real ID, Madigan Trial, and More

New laws you should know about

More than 300 new state laws went into effect this week. They cover a wide variety of issues including gun registration rules, minimum wage, and new protections against fentanyl overdose, just to name a few.

Despite ongoing legal challenges to the Illinois Democrats’ new gun ban and registration law, the law’s January 1 deadline remained in place for gun owners to register firearms and ammunition they currently own that are listed under the law. The Illinois State Police has been tasked with creating rules for the registration process and have provided registration information here.

Illinois’ minimum wage also increased on January 1. With the new year, it automatically increased to $14.00 per hour. The minimum wage for tipped employees has risen from $7.80/hour to $8.40/hour. These increases are mandated by a schedule enacted within the Illinois Minimum Wage Law.

Other new laws you should know about include:

  • Drivers are now prohibited from video conferencing while behind the wheel (HB 2431).
  • Electronic cigarettes and vapes are prohibited in public places and near building entrances (HB 1540).
  • Utility companies cannot cut off electric or gas service to residential customers when the temperature reaches 90 degrees (HB 1541).
  • Paid Leave: allows workers to earn up to 40 hours of paid leave in a 12-month period. Workers will accrue one hour of leave for every 40 hours worked (SB 208).
  • All new single and multi-family homes must include electric vehicle-capable parking, including the electric panel capacity and conduit needed for charging (SB 40).
  • Children testifying in abuse cases do not have to confront their abusers in open court (HB 2607).
  • Pharmacies and retail stores are now permitted to sell fentanyl test strips over the counter (HB3203), and schools are required to have an opioid antagonist in secure locations where an opioid overdose may occur (HB 3428). 

Some of these new laws represent positive changes, but there were so many serious problems left unaddressed by the Democrat majority and the governor; chief among them is the increase in crime in our communities fueled by their so-called Safe-T-Act. We are also left with tough decisions on where to cut spending in 2024. The budget passed by the majority this past spring creates new, permanent programs paid for with temporary income; and there are no more pandemic relief funds to bail the Democrats out. We must change course in 2024.

Real ID

The deadline for Illinoisans to make the switch to “Real ID” has changed multiple times.  Current Illinois driver’s licenses or ID cards will continue to be accepted at airports, military bases and secure federal facilities until May 7, 2025. You can read more information at this link.

New director named for embattled DCFS

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) has a wide-ranging set of responsibilities that center on monitoring children at risk and keeping them safe. The top leadership of DCFS, appointed by Gov. Pritzker, has repeatedly been accused of failing to support Illinois children at risk, and failing to support Illinois’s child welfare field service personnel. At one point, DCFS Director Marc D. Smith had more than ten separate findings of contempt of court against him, based upon acknowledged situations of child endangerment, inappropriate housing, and inappropriate treatment. Embattled Director Smith will step down at the end of January 2024.

Governor Pritzker announced this week that he is transferring his director of Juvenile Justice, Heidi Mueller, to head DCFS. The Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice is the custodial guardian of troubled youth who have been committed to the State by Illinois courts.

Madigan trial postponed until October

As pretrial work continues on the approaching corruption trial of former Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan, a court has granted a six-month extension with respect to the trial’s opening date. The federal court trial, originally scheduled to begin in April 2024, is now tentatively set to begin on October 8, 2024.  

Happy New Year!

A new year is always an opportunity for a new start. Here’s to hoping we can make 2024 the best yet!