Motorcycle safety; Protecting animals; Helping military families

More than 200 new laws take effect on January 1

Every year the General Assembly passes dozens or even hundreds of new laws with effective dates of January 1. This year is no different, as more than 200 new laws will go into effect with the start of the new year. Many of these you have already heard much about, like the watered-down ethics bill. But there are many others which have not gotten as much attention. Below are some of the new laws which will be taking effect on January 1. Check back here next week for a few more.

Motorcycle safety and organ transplant anti-discrimination bills take effect

Three of the bills I sponsored last spring will become law on January 1. One of them is House Bill 656, which enhances motorcycle safety by requiring that a motorcycle passenger must be capable of resting their foot on the footrest while the motorcycle is in motion. Senate Bill 595 changes some requirements for notifications in mortgage proceedings. The other is Senate Bill 500 which prohibits the denial of an organ transplant solely on the basis of a person’s mental or physical disability.

College prep and high school graduation requirements

Minimum college preparatory curriculum requirements for admission to a public university oblige a student to complete three years of science. Effective January 1, a student may count an agricultural sciences class toward meeting that requirement. An agricultural education class may be counted toward the requirement for two years of electives. Another new law allows students to use a speech class to meet a graduation requirement. Students may choose a forensic speech course as an elective to meet the one-year prerequisite for high school graduation.

New state laws assist military families

Military families face the hardship of frequent moves as their loved one is reassigned to different posts around the nation. A change in Illinois state law will help members of these families restart their careers once they move to Illinois by expediting the professional licensing process for servicemembers and their spouses by reducing the processing time from 60 days down to 30. The change also makes it easier for a military spouse who already holds a professional license in another state to obtain one in Illinois.

Protections for animals

Several new laws have to do with keeping animals safe from harm or abuse. Oftentimes people who are convicted of crimes against animals are prohibited from owning animals in the future. Legislation passed this year would extend that prohibition to people living in the same household as anyone who has multiple convictions for crimes such as aggravated cruelty to an animal, or a charge such as dogfighting.

Another new animal protection law makes it illegal to import with the intent to sell any animal part or product, expanding the current ban on ivory and rhinoceros horns. This legislation was proposed by the Humane Society as a way to ensure that Illinoisans do not unwittingly contribute to the illegal wildlife trade. It contains exemptions for museums or antiquities.

Flags at state parks

The Department of Natural Resources will be required to fly the United States flag, the Illinois state flag and the POW/MIA flag at all state parks with the enactment of Senate Bill 2089. Those flags will have to be American-made due to the newly-enacted House Bill 605 which requires all flags flown at state buildings and facilities to be made in the United States.

Happy birthday Ann!

I stopped by the Apostolic Christian Home in Eureka recently to wish Ann McCloud a happy 105th birthday! She said she feels great and that she had received more than 130 birthday cards from friends, family and members of the community. Ann has seen much change over the years. It was great to talk with her and her daughter Sara Kaufman. They are a great family in the Eureka community. Happy birthday Ann!

Helping our furry friends

All this month my Watseka district office is a drop-off location for those wishing to help the Iroquois County Animal Rescue. The office is located at 342 W. Walnut Street. Items like toys, beds and food are welcome. We are not able to accept monetary donations.

How much do we owe?

As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $4,891,879,861 in unpaid bills to state vendors. One year ago, the backlog stood at $7.8 billion. This figure represents the amount of bills submitted to the office of the Comptroller and still awaiting payment. It does not include debts that can only be estimated, such as our unfunded pension liability which is subject to a wide range of factors and has been estimated to be more than $141 billion.

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Here’s how Illinois has spent and plans to spend COVID-19 relief funds