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Local legislators enact new laws for 2015

While many people wonder what work actually gets done by legislators in Springfield, more than 200 new laws enacted over the past year took effect on Jan. 1.

As state Sen. Christine Radogno (R-41st) said, the new laws touch Òmany areas of state government from technology and transportation, to employment and criminal law.”

One of the new laws likely to affect the most people is the the new 70 mph speed limit for the toll highway system in the Chicago area, bringing it into line with the speed limit for the rest of the state highway system, where the speed limit was raised to 70 mph earlier in 2014. The speed limit does remain at 60 mph for semi-tractor trailers on interstates.{{more}}

Gov. Pat Quinn had vetoed the new bill, but the General Assembly voted to override that veto during the fall veto session.

In addition to Radogno, local chief sponsors of the bill included state Senators Steve Landek (D-12th) and Martin Sandoval (D-11th).

Among the new laws involving technology is House Bill 4594, which allows services like Skype, which provides simultaneous audio and video transmission, to be used to request search warrants from judges.

State Rep. Michael J. Zalewski (D-23rd) sponsored that bill. Zalewski, along with Reps. Esther Golar (D-6th) and Andre Thapedi (D-32nd), were among the sponsors of SB3411, which eliminates the use of ticket quotas for police officers statewide. Drivers with valid licenses will also be able to hold onto them if they receive a ticket.

In a move toward better communication, House Bill 5623 requires that units of local government or school districts that maintain official websites must post an email address that members of the public can use to communicate with elected officials of that body.

The issue of Òcyber bullying,” in which students use social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to bully and harass, is addressed in House Bill 4207, sponsored by state Reps. Monique Davis (D-27th), Dan Burke (D-1st) and Sandoval.

It requires schools to address electronic bullying under certain circumstances, even if the bullying occurred off-campus and was conducted using private computers, cell phones and other tools.

Concerns about underage access to newly popular e-cigarettes are addressed by House Bill 5868, which requires e-cigarettes to be sold from behind the counter in an age-restricted area, or in a sealed display case. Refills must be in child-proof packaging.

A new law dubbed ÒBan the Box,” eliminates the requirement that anyone convicted of a misdemeanor or felony check a box on a job application, usually eliminating themselves from consideration.

House Bill 5701, sponsored by state Senators Landek and Jacqueline Collins (D-16th), prohibits private employers with 15 or more employees from asking a job applicant about their criminal history until the applicant has been selected for an interview or until after a conditional offer of employment is made if there is no interview.

Any past criminal history can then be discussed face to face.

Collins was also among the sponsors of a new law expanding current prohibitions against parents or guardians allowing underage drinking at a residence or other private property. Under House Bill 4745, it is now illegal for them to allow underage drinking in vehicles and trailers, mobile homes and campers, and watercraft under the control of a parent or guardian.

Boating under the influence now will also result in the boat being impounded.

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