SPRINGFIELD – Jan. 1 does not just mark the advent of the New Year, it is also the day more than 150 new Illinois laws take effect. State Sen. Sue Rezin (R-Morris) said while many of the measures are relatively mundane, others target serious criminal activity, increase fees, and seek to protect employee privacy.
During the fall Veto Session, legislation (SB 1566/PA 97-1136) was approved, which will stimulate revenue for the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The new law will eventually lead to $32 million in new revenue for DNR through the creation of entrance fees, use fees, shipping fees, consultation fees, and increases to current fees including a $2 surcharge on license plate renewals. A number of lawmakers voted against the legislation, arguing that the measure places the burden of financing DNR on the public and noting there is no language to prevent future fund sweeps. However, the legislation was approved and signed into law with proponents pointing out that budget constraints have forced DNR to struggle to perform necessary functions, such as much-needed upkeep at state parks.
However, revenue-stimulating legislation constituted only a few of the bills passed during the final year of the 97th General Assembly. Lawmakers also focused on measures that will increase protections for some of the state’s most vulnerable citizens. This spring, the Legislature approved “Caylee’s Law” (SB 2537//PA 97-1079) in response to the nationally-covered case surrounding the death of 2-year-old Caylee Anthony, whose mother, Casey, failed to report her daughter missing and then lied about circumstances surrounding the child’s disappearance and death.
The new law will increase penalties for a parent, guardian or caretaker who fails to report the death or disappearance of a child 13 years or younger within 24 hours, or one hour if the child is younger than 2. The law also expands the definition of obstruction of justice to parents, guardians or caretakers of a child younger than 13 who provide false information to law enforcement or other authorities investigating the child’s disappearance or death. This legislation was also amended to specify DHFS/DHS/DCFS social workers, caseworkers and investigators as authorities included in the offense of threatening a public official, if the threat was specific to the individual.
Protecting the state’s elderly residents was also a top priority for state lawmakers, who approved legislation (HB 5266/PA 97-864) that expands the list of people and state agencies that have access to any records generated in response to a report of elder abuse, neglect, financial exploitation or self-neglect investigations. Now, law enforcement agencies, fire departments and fire protection districts can be given a list of at-risk adults from relevant state agencies, to ensure local first responders are aware of possible past abuse and are better able to protect these senior citizens.
For the complete article see the 12-26-2012 issue.
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