SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WGEM) - From minor changes to major reforms, 286 new laws will take effect Saturday in Illinois.
Illinois will become the first state in the country to require the teaching of a unit of Asian-American history in public schools. Another law requires schools to incorporate contributions of Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh and Buddhists into American history curriculum.
School leaders will also be banned from discriminating against students based on their hairstyle. Sen. Mike Simmons (D-Chicago) championed the bill this year as a Black man who proudly sports his hair in free-form dreadlocks. His legislation honors Jett Hawkins, a 4-year-old boy who faced the dilemma with his elementary school when they said his braids violated the school dress code.
Illinois State Police will combine FOID and concealed carry licenses into one digital card. Gun owners will also have the opportunity to have their cards automatically renewed if they provide fingerprints. The law requires state police to remove guns from people with revoked FOIDs who never gave up their weapons. It also creates a stolen gun database to prevent more violence and crime.
“I think something that we can agree on as a common interest is that we need to make sure that our communities are safer,” said Sen. Dave Koehler (D-Peoria). “Whether it be rural, urban, upstate or downstate, our communities have to be made safer.”
This bipartisan plan invests in trauma-informed mental health programs to help communities hardest hit by gun violence. The FOID modernization and gun control legislation came after years of advocacy following the 2019 Aurora warehouse shooting.
Also starting Jan. 1, mental health professionals will treat people experiencing mental health crises instead of police. The Community Emergency Services and Supports Act requires emergency service providers to coordinate between a 911 and 988 call to help anyone seeking assistance.
Sponsors say the change can truly help people feel safer if they’re going through trauma by ensuring they receive care from professionals trained to do it.
“Receiving treatment from someone who is a trained professional in mental health support is the best and safest way to address a mental health crisis,” said Sen. Robert Peters (D-Chicago). “When police or firefighters show up, it sometimes creates a more dangerous situation for everyone.”
All public school students will receive up to five excused absences each year for mental or behavioral health. Medical notes will not be required for the excused absences.
Meanwhile, standardized tests will become optional for prospective college students in Illinois. The Higher Education Fair Admissions Act blocks public universities from relying on ACT or SAT scores from students.
June 19 -- known as Juneteenth -- will be recognized as National Freedom Day in Illinois following a push to make Juneteenth an official state holiday. The day marks the historic moment in 1865 when Union soldiers told slaves in Galveston, Texas, that they had been freed.
Sponsors joined Gov. JB Pritzker to celebrate the bill’s signing on June 16 of this year.
“This is a blessed day,” said Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood). “For I know whose shoulders I stand on. For I know the sacrifices and the pain and the resilience my ancestors endured. And I am thankful to all of them.”
The Preventing Youth Vaping Act puts new restrictions and regulations on electronic cigarettes. State lawmakers worked with the Illinois Attorney General’s office to prohibit advertisements for vaping products that are targeted toward teenagers. The law also requires vape shops to verify that customers are 21-years or older when purchasing e-cig products. It specifically bans vape shops from offering coupons on vape products within their store. The language also addresses misleading advertising for vaping products that promote e-cigs as an alternative to tobacco products with low risk.
People with trailers will be happy to see their license plate fee go down. The state is cutting the $118 price tag to $36 after many complained about the significant hike in 2019.
Another law requires water utility companies to replace their lead service lines. This comes as Illinois has more lead pipes than any other state. Lawmakers had the opportunity to address the problem with the 2019 Rebuild Illinois plan. However, sponsors say lead pipes were overlooked.
“We did not put anything in place to tackle this issue, so no dollars went to it,” said Rep. Lamont Robinson (D-Chicago). “Everyone should be able to drink clean water without any issue, no matter what financial capabilities you have or where you live in this state.”
Illinois will ban police from lying to children and teens during interrogations starting Jan. 1. This makes Illinois the first state in the country to ban the deceptive tactic.
Terrill Swift was one of four Black teens framed for murder and rape by Chicago police in 1995. Police brought the then 17-year-old in for questioning, even though he knew nothing about the crime. Swift spent more than 15 years in prison before his release for the wrongful conviction. He feels this law could have saved his life.
“We still have so much work to do,” Swift said. “We still have so much work to do because there are so many brothers and sisters still there now wrongfully. And we can all agree that one day in prison wrongfully is too long.”
Senate Bill 471 requires all insurance providers to cover services and treatment for mental, emotional, nervous or substance use disorders. Another law requires insurance companies to cover comprehensive biomarker testing for Illinoisans.
Another new law will protect people from prosecution if they seek medical attention for an opioid overdose. Sponsors hope it will bring attention to the ongoing opioid epidemic in Illinois. The law ensures a probation sentence won’t be revoked if someone stays with the person overdosing to get help.
Democrats from Naperville introduced the measure to honor the life of Alex Green, a 25-year-old who overdosed. A friend dropped Alex off at a gas station. Then, they left the scene fearing they would be caught.
Bill Green, Alex’s father, told lawmakers in March that this legislation could have prevented his son from dying.
“If that person had actually gone into the gas station and said, “My friend is overdosing,’ he might still be here today. But that didn’t happen,” Green said through tears. “I ask you please make this a law.”
And the minimum wage in Illinois will go up to $12 per hour in 2022. That is part of a 2019 law that will gradually raise the wage to $15 by 2025.
You can see a full list of the 2022 new laws by clicking here.
Copyright 2021 WGEM. All rights reserved.