Dale Righter

Illinois State Senator | 55th District


New laws to take effect January 1, 2012

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


You can access a pdf. list of all the January 1 New Laws, as well as a pdf. list of all the January 1 New Laws by topic

January 1st doesn’t just mark the advent of the New Year—it is also the day more than 150 new Illinois laws take effect. While many of the measures are relatively mundane, others target serious criminal activity, including tougher penalties for a variety of offenses and making it easier for victims of crime to receive compensation for financial losses.

Additionally, new information on driver's licenses could also make it easier for service providers to identify veterans and steer them toward available services under another new law that begins January 1.

Last spring, lawmakers focused on measures that will increase protections for some of the state’s most vulnerable citizens. Notably, the Legislature approved “Caylee’s Law” (SB 2537//PA 97-1079) in response to the nationally-covered case surrounding the death of two-year-old Caylee Anthony, whose mother, Casey, failed to report her daughter missing and then lied about circumstances surrounding the child’s disappearance and death.

The new law will increase penalties for a parent, guardian or caretaker who fails to report the death or disappearance of a child 13 years or younger within 24 hours, or one hour if the child is younger than 2. The law also expands the definition of obstruction of justice to parents, guardians or caretakers of a child younger than 13 who provide false information to law enforcement or other authorities investigating the child’s disappearance or death.

Protecting the state’s elderly residents was also a top priority for state lawmakers, who approved legislation (HB 5653/PA 97-865) that seeks to make it easier to prosecute cases involving financial exploitation of an elderly person, or a person with a disability. Upon taking effect the new law will also allow prosecutors to freeze the assets of a defendant, which can be used for the purpose of restitution to their victim.

Additional laws seek to educate and inform first responders about elder abuse. House Bill 5098/PA 97-862 requires the police training curriculum to include a course in the recognition of elder abuse and neglect, while HB 5266/PA 97-864 allows law enforcement and fire department agencies to access all records that are generated after a report of elder abuse, financial exploitation, or neglect.

And every year one of lawmakers top legislative priorities is to help members of the Armed Forces and Illinois veterans. Senate Bill 2837/PA 97-739 will take effect Jan. 1 and will allow for Illinois Drivers Licenses, Identification cards and Disabled Person Identification Cards to clearly designate that the individual is a Veteran. One goal of the law is to make it easier for social service agencies to assure that Veterans receive all services and benefits to which they are legally entitled, such as healthcare, education assistance, and job placement.

Additionally, SB 3287/PA 97-913 will extend additional benefits to active duty service members and members of the National Guard who have been called to duty by the Governor for more than 30 days. Members of the Armed Forces can be called to duty with little advance notice, which can make it difficult for them to attend to many of the day-to-day obligations that most people take for granted—including paying bills and attending legal hearings and other proceedings.  

Upon taking effect Jan. 1, the new law will extend additional benefits to Illinois service members called to duty by the Governor, including the right to terminate a residential property lease; allow for a stay of an administrative proceeding and default judgment protection; ensure protection from property repossession on installment contracts; and allow for a court authorized adjustment to a loan obligation in foreclosure proceedings. Currently all these protections are available for members called to duty by the President; the new law extends the same protections to those called into action by the Governor.

On a lighter note, Illinois employees worried their boss may try to view their personal social media content can rest easy as of Jan. 1. A new law (HB 3782/PA 97-875) will prohibit employers from requesting or requiring any current or prospective employee to provide any account information, including passwords, in order to gain access to the employee’s social networking site(s).

Though obviously intended to protect Illinois workers’ reasonable rights to privacy on the Web, the bill also protects employers, who are not allowed to ask employees or job applicants about age, sex, race, or sexual orientation—all information that could be easily gleaned from a social networking site.

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