New Illinois laws of 2017 entered the books January 1st, so Laura Law Office thought it would be a good idea to give a rundown of the most notable ones that will affect residents. So i’ll give some brief descriptions of ten important ones and maybe a brief opinion on them as well.
- Senate Bill 2746: This bill thankfully eliminates the Sales Tax on essential feminine hygiene products such as Tampons and menstrual pads so that women aren’t forced to spend more money on products that they actually need for their health. These taxes are sometimes called “Pink Taxes” in reference to essential health products being sold as luxury items rather than you know, essential health products. Huffington Post’s Julia Craven gave a nice sum up of what these taxes are, “Pink taxes” refer to the extra funds women spend on certain products and services ― such as feminine hygiene products, razors, haircuts, insurance and even pillows ― over comparable products marketed to men.”
The Bill’s sponsor, democratic Senator Melinda Bush commented, “This is just the start of a conversation about the unfair ‘pink taxes’ women face as they buy products priced higher than similar ones marketed to men or, in this case, as they have to spend on products that men don’t.”
It’s nice to see a Republican governor sign this bill into effect and make strides towards gender equality.
- Senate Bill 3129: This bill allows police officers the first preference to adopt retiring police dogs to make sure that the dog and the officer can remain connected even after the dog retires. If the officer doesn’t wish to adopt the dog, than another officer in the department can or the dog would be given to a no kill shelter to help the process of getting adopted by a loving family. I honestly can’t see how anyone would be against this measure, as police dogs have to go through mentally and physically exhausting work to help the force and tend to form special bonds with their commanding officer. Any help in making the dogs retirement more comfortable and loving, while also helping the police officer keep his connection with his canine should be supported.
- House Bill 4264: This Bill requires beauty professionals such as Cosmetologists, estheticians, nail technicians and hair braiders to take an hour long course every two years in domestic abuse and sexual assault education when renewing or obtaining their licenses. This encourages the beauty workers to look for possible signs of assault on their clients and be more educated on what those signs are. It doesn’t require them to submit mandated reports but rather as the Northwest Harold’s Jordyn Reiland explains “provide resources and tools to those in the field to pass along to their clients if and when they’re needed.”
I believe encouraging more awareness about domestic violence and sexual assault signs to employers who may deal with clients that are victims of them is a good thing. Many domestic violence incidents go unreported and beauty workers often provide a safe conduit to their clients to talk to as Reiland explains, “Although more than 4,700,000 women are physically abused by a partner each year, only 34 percent seek medical treatment and only 25 percent report the incident to police, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Salon managers and owners throughout McHenry County have expressed their support for the bill, citing the close relationship many employees develop with their clients on a regular basis.”
Reiland provided some testimonies of supporting beauty workers such as Lisa Mumford, owner of Hair Ink LLC in Mchenry County, “We’re kind of like the psychologists of hair,” Mumford said. “Your clients come in, and a lot of time they get comfortable with you to share what goes on in their lives. You just build that relationship, and they feel very trusted.”
Angela Henderson, manager of Hair Cuttery in Crystal Lake makes similar statements as well, “We’re not only hairdressers; we feel like counselors, psychologists,” Henderson said. “Clients feel comfortable with you, and so they tend to open up more.”
- House Bill 5576: This bill expands birth control coverage beyond what is required by the Affordable care act as the State journal registers Dean Olsen explains, “The 2010 Affordable Care Act requires all health insurance plans nationwide to cover birth-control pills and other contraceptives for women with no out-of-pocket costs. But the law doesn’t require all brands and formulas of pills to be covered without cost sharing. The law also doesn’t prohibit cost sharing for all types of intrauterine and other birth-control devices. HB 5576 requires that all of those options be covered without co-payments or deductibles, at least for women covered through health plans regulated by the state and plans that cover state employees, retirees and their dependents.”
This does not affect women who are covered by self insurance plans but many see it as a step forward in providing easier contraceptive access to all women and gives Illinois “the most comprehensive contraceptive law on the books in the country,” according to EverThrive Illinois’ Kathy Waligora.
Insurance companies naturally opposed the bill citing rising costs for them and no republicans in assembly voted in favor of it. However Waligora sees this bill as a chance to save money in the long run by avoiding unintended pregnancies. She also has cited dozens of complaints by female patients claiming doctors prescribing contraceptives not covered by their insurance. Pro life institutions like the Illinois family institution have claimed that they shouldn’t be forced to cover a contraceptive because they see it as akin to abortion as their director David E Smith claimed, “”No American should be forced to pay for something that violates their deeply held religious beliefs.”
But Waligora makes the point that this isn’t mandating coverage of abortions(which is true) and will save the state in medicaid costs. The American Civil Liberties Union is in favor of the legislation as their spokesman Ed Yohnka comments, “We think that women ought to have access to the full panoply of medications.”
Planned Parenthood also is in favor with public policy director Brigid Leahy stating “This really will be beneficial all around.”
During the debate over the bill in the summer, Republican Representative Dwight Kay was concerned over the affect on public “morality” that the bill would have stating “I seriously question how much promiscuity should an insurance company pay (for).”
I find that quote particularly hypocritical. Advocating against allowing abortions but then refusing affordable access to contraceptives or sexual education that could give women safe options for sex without having to worry about unwanted pregnancies makes little sense. Kay’s comment is indicative of the very real sexism in government with him condemning women wanting to have safe sex as “Promiscuous.”
- SB 2228: This bill will finally decriminalize the penalties for Marijuana possession up to 10 grams and make getting punished for small possession punishable with fines between $100-200 rather than any chance of jail time. Previously, possession of 10 grams would be classified as a Class B felony and punishable by up to 6 months in jail and $1500 in fines. Also importantly, the bill would get rid of the ridiculous zero tolerance policy the law had for drivers who had any trace of Marijuana in their system, even if it was ingested days or weeks ago. Now there needs to be at least 5 nanogram’s of THC in a person’s blood or 10 nanogram’s in a person’s saliva before being punished. This bill is a nice step in the right direction, though it would be nice to see the provisions expand in the future to actually fully decriminalize marijuana and maybe one day fully legalize it. No person should ever have to serve time in a prison for a nonviolent marijuana offense, no matter how much the person has possessed.
- SB 2252 & 2907: I’m putting these two together because they have some similar effects on the public and were sponsored by the same Senator. 2252 will require law enforcement officials to accept cash as bail if the person charged chooses that route. According to 34th District Senator Steve Stadelman’s website, “The idea was brought to the senator by Rockford-area resident Kevin Lunsford, whose minor son was arrested for a traffic offense last year. When Lunsford arrived at the Winnebago County Juvenile Center to bail out his son, the credit card machine was broken and the county has a policy to refuse cash. Because of a technology malfunction, Lunsford’s son was forced to sit in the juvenile center the entire weekend – significantly longer than the law requires and at taxpayer expense.” This seems like a win win idea. 2907 will make it so that for a person to be charged with felony criminal property damage, the damage they inflict must exceed $500, rather than the $300 damage it was previous. There had been questions why the threshold of felony property damage was so low.
- SB 3163: This bill protects workers by banning companies from making their workers sign non-compete agreements if they’re making less than $13.50 an hour. These non compete clauses tend to restrict workers and can be especially harmful to those making around minimum wage salaries.
- HB 4259: This bill restricts lobbying groups from receiving taxpayer funded pensions so as to try to end abuse of state dollars. Seems logical enough to me.
- SB 1564: This bill updates the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience law to require that health care facilities adopt procedures to make sure faith based objections can’t jeopardize the patient’s health. According to Dean Olsen, “When dealing with patients who need services that a professional or facility doesn’t provide because of religious views, patients must receive either formal referrals to other providers or information on how to reach providers that might be able to serve the patients.”
This bill wasn’t supported by any republicans of course as pro life people see it as forcing medical professionals to go against their religious consciences. David E Smith, who was referred to earlier opposing the comprehensive contraceptive law said this, “It is going to force pro-life doctors and nurses to violate their conscience.”
But Brigid Leahy rightfully argues it’s not forcing the doctors to do anything but their job,”This is not a violation of religious freedom. The whole purpose of this is to prevent harm. Religious rights should not be allowed to cause harm to another person.” No medical professional should ever refuse a patient access to crucial health care because of their religious beliefs. It is not fair to the patients.
“This is an important thing for every person seeking health care in Illinois,” ACLU spokesman Ed Yohnka said. “I think this really will improve the provision of health care in this state.”
- HB 6162: This bill requires employers to give their workers greater flexibility in using their sick time. A company providing sick leave to employees now must allow them to use up to half their allotted time to attend to the medical needs of family members. Seems fair to me
The laws i’ve described here are laws that overall i’m in agreement with. Obviously there are two sides of most things but these laws feel humane and not an abuse or overreach of government power. Though that might depend on what your definition of abuse or overreach is. The full list of laws can be found here:
And a brief review of more new laws courtesy of the Illinois State Bar Association can be found http://nprillinois.org/post/illinois-issues-new-laws-2017#stream/0
(Opinions are mine and don’t represent official view of Laura Law Office)