Top 12 New Laws Effective January 1, 2013
Senate Democrats spent a great deal of time during the 97th General Assembly working to implement new laws that will protect the citizens of Illinois. Here are some of the most interesting and notable measures taking effect on January 1, 2013.
Live adult entertainment surcharge
Businesses deemed to be “live adult entertainment facilities” that either serve or permit the consumption of alcohol on their premises are subject to an annual surcharge amounting to $3 per person that is admitted to the facility. The revenue collected through these means will be used to create grants for sexual assault organizations whose funding had previously been dramatically cut by the state legislature.
Studies have proven a correlation between adult entertainment facilities and increased rates of violence and property crimes in neighborhoods that contain such a facility.
“Victims of sexual assault must be able to access emergency services to fully recover from their traumatic experiences,” bill sponsor Senator Toi Hutchinson (D – Chicago Heights) said. “I am hopeful the extra funding for sexual assault centers will ensure no victim is turned away for care when they need it the most.”
New revenue for DNR
The former governor of Illinois gutted the budget of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, impacting state parks, museums and many other historical attractions. In order to supplement the funding lost, a new law was designed which charges small fees for various permits, registrations and assessments. Additionally, usage fees will be assessed on non-Illinois residents who use Illinois state parks. These fees should help IDNR keep facilities open and continue operations, including maintenance, roadway and facility construction.
Diversion program for first time, non-violent offenders
Starting Jan. 1, Illinois law will allow first-time, non-violent offenders to participate in a two-year diversion program similar to probation. Once they successfully complete the program, their records will immediately be expunged, increasing their odds of getting a job and staying out of prison.
Strengthened laws to protect children
"Caylee’s Law” was drafted in response to the recent death of Caylee Anthony. Caylee was last seen on June 15, 2008, but her mother, Casey, waited a month before alerting the authorities to Caylee’s disappearance. “Caylee’s Law” makes it a felony for a parent or guardian to fail to report the disappearance of a child within 24 hours of the child going missing and also makes it a crime to fail to report the death of a child.
Strengthened human trafficking laws
This bill extends the statute of limitations for sex-trafficking offenses involving child victims to one year after the victim turns 18.
“It is extremely difficult for a child who has been a victim of sex-trafficking to press charges against the exploiter when, as a minor, she is still in a vulnerable and dependent position, often unable to live on her own,” said Sen. Collins, the legislation’s sponsor in the Senate. “Giving victims an extra year past the age of majority can make the difference between living in fear and seeing justice done.”
Insurance coverage for people with autism
Families of people diagnosed with autism are facing a potential crisis: the loss of insurance coverage. This new law requires that an individual diagnosed as having autism spectrum disorder (and who meets the diagnostic criteria in place at the time of diagnosis and whose treatment is determined to be medically necessary) must remain eligible for insurance coverage.
“No parent should ever have to choose between continuing a child’s medical treatment and paying the bills,” Senator Harmon said.
Strengthened sales tax evasion laws
After an Attorney General’s Office investigation that uncovered over 6500 convenience stores across the state that may have willfully withheld sales tax, the General Assembly, led by Senator Jeff Schoenberg, approved a new law that increases the penalties if a person fails to file a return or fraudulently files a sales tax return. The law also creates the crime of sales tax evasion, which involves knowing attempts to evade remitting sales tax. The measure also bolsters penalties for sales tax fraud.
Expedited professional licensure for service members and spouses
In an attempt to provide better support to military families, updates have been made to the state licensure and certification requirements for military personnel which award them and their spouses the ability to receive temporary occupational or professional licenses in the interim when their official license is being processed.
Crackdown on disabled parking abuses
This new law increases fines for unauthorized use of disabled parking placards and for creating or possessing fraudulent placards. It also imposes fines on doctors who falsify disability certification for anyone who does not actually qualify. It also imposes more severe consequences for fraudulent disabled parking at municipal parking meters.
Outlaw “cramming” phone charges
This law eliminates unlawful bill cramming, which is the addition of unauthorized charges to customers' land-line telephone bills by third-party vendors. The law bans the practice of third-party billing altogether, with several limited exceptions.
“When most people look at their phone bills, they assume they're getting billed for the calls they make and the services they purchase—they don’t think to look for extra costs added by third-party companies,” bill sponsor Dave Koehler said. “Illinois consumers lose hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to these scams. We need to put a stop to them.”
Tighter State vehicle use policies
After the state auditor general issued a scathing report on state vehicle use, Senate Democrats passed a law to increase vehicle-use transparency and require state agencies to have formal policies to prevent waste and abuse of taxpayer-financed vehicles.
If an unlicensed entity makes a loan, it will not have legal recourse to collect any principal, interest or charges related to the loan.