Starting July 1st, a handful of new laws came into effect in Illinois, covering a wide range from education to minimum wage to training and more. Sometimes it can be hard to keep up with what’s being implemented when so, to help you out, we’ve put together the 10 new Illinois laws in effect right now.
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An Increase To Minimum Wage
Illinois workers already saw a $1 increase in the minimum wage at the beginning of the year from $8.25 to $9.25. The new law brings that up even higher to a solid $10 per hour. January 1st, 2021, will come with another $1 increase to stay on track with Illinois’s plan to have the minimum wage reach $15 starting January 1st, 2025.
This law requires public schools in the state to teach, at a minimum, one semester of civics between sixth and eighth grade. Content around pressing societal issues, government institutions, and democratic process simulations must be the focus.
Complete Employee Discrimination Protection
The Illinois Human Rights Act expanded its definition of an employer to include anyone employing even one person or more in the stat for 20+ weeks, a revision from the previous language which defined an employer as having 15 or more employees. These employees will be protected from discrimination on the basis of race, sex, age, sexual orientation, religion, and other protected categories.
Increased Penalties for Texting and Driving
The Illinois Vehicle Code has been changed to include a 12-month suspension of a license and a fine minimum of $1,000 for drivers who cause bodily harm, disfigurement, or permanent disability to another because they were texting and driving.
Increased Penalties for Drivers Injuring Someone While Violating Right-of-Ways
Any driver violating a right-of-way at crosswalks or in school zones that causes serious injury to another will incur a 12-month license suspension.
No Suspension of License for Fine Payment Failure
A person’s license or registration will no longer be suspended by the secretary of state for failing to pay a fine or penalty on time. Lawmakers believe a person still has the right to travel to work even if they cannot afford to pay a ticket.
Increased Gas Tax
A 0.7 cent-per-gallon increase took effect yesterday in an attempt to match the rate of inflation. This comes on top of the gas tax doubling last year to 39 cents-per-gallon in an effort to fund road improvements.
LGBTQ+ History Education
The 2020-21 school year will require public schools in Illinois to teach LGBTQ+ history as well as purchase textbooks that are non-discriminatory, meaning that they “include the roles and contributions of all people protected under the Illinois Human Rights Act.”
Annual Training and Sexual Harassment Prevention
Under this law, every employer must annually provide sexual harassment prevention training at least once. Restaurants, bars, hotels, and casinos must provide their sexual harassment policy within the week of employment to all new employees. Hotels and casinos must also supply employees working alone a safety/notification device to call for help if trouble arises. In addition to that, employees can take paid time off to file a criminal complaint or police report.
Furthermore, it is a civil rights violation now for an employer to harass an employee based on race, religion, age, sex, marital status, disability, sexual orientation, pregnancy, citizenship status, and more factors. Employers are also now responsible for employees, consultants, and contractors harassing others if the employer “fails to take reasonable corrective measures” once they are aware of the conduct. Annually, companies must disclose any rulings, judgments, or settlements against them that are related to discrimination or harassment to the Illinois Department of Human Rights.
Illinois Government’s Coronavirus Response
This establishes a commission with members from the House and Senate in an effort to address the needs in revitalizing different aspects of the state’s economy due to the coronavirus pandemic. The commission is called the Restore Illinois Collaborative Commission. These new measures allow meetings for government bodies to occur over audio or video conferencing methods if meeting in person would be deemed impractical by the governor or the Illinois Department of Public Health due to a disaster declaration being issued.
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