New Laws in the New Year

Happy New Year! With the start of a new year (and new decade) come a number of new laws that took effect in Illinois at the stroke of midnight.  Perhaps most newsworthy was the legalization of marijuana across the State.  However, with the inauguration of Governor J.B. Pritzker at the start of 2019 and the first unified Democratic controlled government in four years, many other new laws hit the books.  As a local law firm, we stay up to date on all laws that may impact our clients. Let’s take a look at some of the more notable legislation:

Marijuana: This past June, Illinois became the 11th state to legalize marijuana.  Under the new law, adults over the game of 21 may possess up to 30 grams of marijuana.  The product cannot be used in public; use is restricted to private residences.  Individuals are not allowed to grow their own marijuana plants without a medical marijuana prescription.

Significantly, ABC7 reports that “for people convicted of possession of under 30 grams prior to legalization [can] have their records referred to the Prisoner Review Board and Governor Pritzker for pardon.”  Additionally, county State’s Attorneys can review and potentially expunge any convictions on a cases by case basis.  In Chicago, State’s Attorney Kim Fox has stated her office will expunge all misdemeanor marijuana convictions once possession becomes legal on January 1, 2020.

Baby Changing Stations: In August, Governor Pritzker signed a law related to baby changing stations.  Under this new law, any public building with restrooms open and accessible to the public must include at least one rest room that includes a changing table for a baby.  These restrooms must be accessible to both males and females and must post public signs in the lobbies of buildings directing visitors to the changing areas.

Minimum Wage and Tips: Illinois Patch reports that the minimum wage will increase for the first time in more than ten years from $8.25 to 9.25 an hour.  This increase is part of a larger change in the State’s minimum wage which is scheduled to increase to $15 an hour by January 1, 2025.

In addition to the minimum wage increase, employees now have the absolute right to keep all of their tips and gratuities.  Under the new law, any tips or gratuities are considered the property of the employee and employers must distribute all proceeds (minus any credit card fees) to their employees within 13 days after the pay period in which the tip or gratuity was earned.

College Admissions: Under the Public University Uniform Admission Act, high school students whose grade point average ranks in the top ten percent of their class in one of the two years preceding their application to college are guaranteed admission at any of Illinois’ public universities.  However, this law does not apply to the State’s flagship school, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Gender: Multiple laws take effect regarding gender identification.  Under the Illinois Identification Card Act, all State issued driver’s licenses, identification cards and other registration forms offered by the Secretary of State must provide the applicant with the option of selecting “non-binary” as a gender designation in addition to “male” or “female.”

Additionally, single occupancy restrooms are prohibited from designating the restroom to a specific gender.  Instead, the restrooms are required to be labeled as single occupancy with no gender designation or for family use.

Health Insurance: There are number of new coverage requirements for Illinois’ health insurance companies.  Beginning in 2020, insurers are required to cover medically necessary EpiPen injectors, mammograms and skin cancer screenings.  Insurance companies cannot pass the cost of these screenings on to their insureds through co-pays or other cost sharing provisions.  A new law also requires insurance companies to offer hearing aids and other hearing related services to individuals over 65 years of age.

These are some of the many laws that are new in the State.  Additional laws and analysis can be found at Illinois’ Patch’s website.  A complete listing of all legislation passed in the 101st Illinois General Assembly can be found at LegiScan.