A fast-food restaurant worker affixes a Fight for $15 sign to a window at a McDonald’s in the city. --Photo courtesy of FightFor15.org
New laws taking effect
Statewide jump in minimum wage ‘just a start’
By Bob Bong and Peter Hancock
Capitol News Illinois
Minimum-wage workers across Illinois will see a boost in their hourly pay to $12 per hour starting Jan. 1, while tenants in affordable housing units will be allowed to keep pets.
Those are just some of the more than 300 new laws that take effect in the new year.
The minimum wage increase is actually the result of a 2019 law that phases in a state minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025. This year, it will increase by one dollar to $12 an hour.
Last July, the minimum wage in Chicago increased to $15 per hour for employers with more than 20 employees and to $14 per hour for employers with 4 to 20 employees. The minimum wage for employers in suburban Cook County remains $13 per hour.
Nonetheless, leaders of the Fight for $15/Chicago labor advocacy organization said this week that a rising minimum wage is “just a start” and that they continue to press for higher wages, improved working conditions and employee unionization at worksites across the metro area, especially at fast-food restaurants.
The law allowing public housing tenants to keep pets is the result of Senate Bill 154, by Sen. Linda Holmes (D-Aurora) and Rep. Stephanie Kifowit (D-Oswego). It provides that tenants of multifamily housing units that are acquired, built or renovated with money from the Illinois Affordable Housing Trust Fund may keep up to two cats or one dog weighing less than 50 pounds.
It applies to residents of housing units that are designated as affordable housing for low- and very-low-income families. The bill passed both chambers in its final form on May 30 and Gov. JB Pritzker signed it into law Aug. 6.
Other new laws include:
- Vehicle taxes: SB58 raises the private vehicle tax, which is a sales tax paid on the purchase of vehicles, by $75 for each model year where the purchase price is less than $15,000 and by $100 for vehicles priced above that amount. However, the registration fee for trailers weighing less than 3,000 pounds will drop to $36 instead of $118.
- College admissions: HB226, establishing the Higher Education Fair Admissions Act, prohibits public colleges and universities from requiring applicants to submit SAT, ACT or other standardized test scores as part of the admissions process, although prospective students may choose to submit them if they wish.
- Drug prices: SB1682 requires pharmacies to post a notice informing consumers that they may request current pharmacy retail prices at the point of sale.
- FOID card changes: HB562 enacts several changes to the Firearm Owner Identification card law. Among other things, it provides for a streamlined renewal process for FOID cards and Concealed Carry Licenses for people who voluntarily submit fingerprint records. It also allows the Illinois State Police to issue a combined FOID card and Concealed Carry License to qualified applicants, and it establishes a new Violent Crime Intelligence Task Force to take enforcement action against people with revoked FOID cards.
- Student mental health: HB576 and SB1577 allow students in Illinois up to five excused absences to attend to their mental or behavioral health without providing a medical note. Those students will be given an opportunity to make up any work they missed during the first absence and, after using a second mental health day, may be referred to the appropriate school support personnel.
- Official flags: HB605 requires state agencies and institutions to purchase Illinois and American flags that are made in the United States.
- Hair styles: SB817 prohibits discrimination in schools against individuals on the grounds of wearing natural or ethnic hairstyles, which include dreadlocks, braids, twists and afros.
- Lemonade stands: SB119 prohibits public health authorities from regulating or shutting down lemonade stands or similar operations that are operated by children under the age of 16. Known as “Hayli’s Law,” it was inspired by 12-year-old Hayli Martinez, whose lemonade stand in Kankakee was shut down by local officials.
- Juneteenth: HB3922 recognizes June 19, or “Juneteenth,” as an official state holiday that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. In June, President Joe Biden also signed a bill designating Juneteenth as a federal holiday.
- Animal abuse:HB168prohibits people who have a record of felony offense like torture or animal fighting cannot own or live with animals.
- Deceased termination fees: HB122. Families have enough to worry about when a loved one passes. Illinois is ending early termination fees on utility contracts for deceased residents.
- Trailer registration: SB58lowers the registration fee for trailers weighing less than 3,000 lbs. from $118 to $36.
- Test scores: HB226.To increase enrollment among Illinois students, Illinois public universities will make admissions decisions regardless of students’ ACT/SAT scores. Students can now choose whether to submit a standardized test score when applying to Illinois public institutions.
- Speech and debate: SB2534allows for students to take one year of forensic speech and debate in high school as a replacement for music, art or foreign language classes that are currently required.
Tim Hadac contributed to this story.
Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government and distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.
Crime reports courtesy of swchicagopost.com. Police report information is provided by law enforcement agencies. Charges are not evidence of guilt. They are a record of police actions taken, and people charged with a crime are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Charge man with murder in Chicago Lawn slaying A 33-year-old Woodlawn…
Reputed gang member tried to hire hitman, Dart says
From staff reports A man in custody at Cook County Jail, as well his fiancé, have been charged after an undercover Cook County Sheriff’s Office investigation concluded that they had sought to hire someone to kill a witness in the man’s current murder case, Sheriff Thomas J. Dart announced recently. Sheriff’s investigators said they learned…
Armed robbers hit Back of the Yards
From staff reports A cluster of four armed robberies in the south end of Back of the Yards has prompted to police to issue a community alert. Crime scenes include: 5400 block of South Seeley at 5 p.m. Friday, June 17. 5400 block of South Hoyne at 9:10 p.m. Friday, June 17. 5400 block of…
Days off are days off, Tabares says
Cops cheer call for City Hall to stop ‘abusing’ police By Tim Hadac Until the Lightfoot Administration comes up with a plan to stop canceling regular days off of police officers, 23rd Ward Ald, Silvana Tabares is asking that city government withhold permits of all public parades and festivals that rely on the protection of…
Pianos in the parks
As part of the annual Make Music Chicago celebration, pianos have been placed in six public parks across the city, including McKinley Park, 2210 W. Pershing. Now through July 31, Chicagoans are invited to play songs on the instruments, which are typically available during fieldhouse hours. This year, the International Music Foundation will include a…
Rush cheers ‘desperately needed’ gun law
From staff reports Provisions based on gun-safety legislation introduced by U.S. Rep. Bobby L. Rush (D-1st) has passed the U.S. House of Representatives as part of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. The legislation has also passed the Senate. Rush’s Gun Trafficking Prohibition Act (H.R. 30) prohibits the trafficking and straw purchasing of guns and bars the…
Chuy hails ‘consumer protection’ legislation
From staff reports Legislation designed to prevent large technology companies, retail firms and payday lenders from owning an industrial loan company (ILC) charter and operating a bank without any of the oversight, safeguards and limitations that apply to such institutions, has passed the House Financial Services Committee, said U.S. Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García (D-4th), a…
Newman notes fed funds coming
From staff reports As part of this year’s community project funding from the House Committee on Appropriations, U.S. Rep. Marie Newman (D-3rd) said she has secured more than $15.9 million in federal funding to invest in community and health services and strengthen transportation networks across the Southwest Side and suburbs. Most of the community project funding requests…
Boy Scout earns his Eagle wings
Boy Scout Michael Kozel (center) of Troop 1441, sponsored by the St. Mary Star of the Sea Holy Name Society, recently passed his Eagle rank Board of Review process—in which adults in authority checked his required number of merit badges, service hours to his position in the troop and his Eagle Scout service project. Kozel’s…
Pro Soccer Report: Red Stars will miss three big guns during World Cup qualifying
By Jeff Vorva Staff Writer Having world-class players on your team is a blessing. But during times like these, it can also be a curse. World-class players help NWSL teams win games. They also miss chunks of time during the season because of their commitments to playing in international competitions. For much of July, the…
CAPITOL RECAP: Pritzker to call special session after Roe v. Wade overturned
By CAPITOL NEWS ILLINOIS SPRINGFIELD – Gov. JB Pritzker will call a special session of the General Assembly in the coming weeks to focus on legislation to strengthen women’s access to abortion and other reproductive health services in Illinois. Pritzker made that announcement Friday, just hours after the U.S. Supreme Court released an opinion overturning…
6 Republicans vie to unseat Pritzker
By PETER HANCOCK & JERRY NOWICKI Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – Republican voters in Illinois will choose from six candidates to challenge incumbent Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker in the upcoming June 28 primary. The field includes a conservative farmer and state lawmakers who is the recent polling frontrunner, the mayor of Illinois’ second largest…
Candidate interview: Alexi Giannoulias looking to reclaim statewide office
By JERRY NOWICKI Capitol News Illinois [email protected] Illinois voters might know Alexi Giannoulias as the state’s treasurer from 2007 to 2011, or they might know him as the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate who lost to Republican Mark Kirk in 2010. He’s now looking to get back into public life as he runs for secretary…
Pritzker to call special session on reproductive rights
By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – Gov. JB Pritzker will call a special session of the General Assembly in the coming weeks to focus on legislation to strengthen women’s access to abortion and other reproductive health services in Illinois. Pritzker made that announcement Friday, just hours after the U.S. Supreme Court released…
Candidate interview: Anna Valencia running for secretary of state
By JERRY NOWICKI Capitol News Illinois [email protected] This story is part of Capitol News Illinois’ coverage of the race for secretary of state ahead of the Tuesday, June 28 primary. We’re reaching out to the candidates this week to discuss their policy positions and plans for the office should they be elected. Chicago City Clerk…
Republicans see opening in secretary of state race
By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – For the first time in nearly a quarter century, there is an open race for the office of Illinois secretary of state as incumbent Democrat Jesse White prepares to retire, and Republicans hope that will give them an opportunity to pick up a statewide elected office.…
Candidate interview: Secretary of state hopeful David Moore
By JERRY NOWICKI Capitol News Illinois [email protected] This story is part of Capitol News Illinois’ coverage of the race for secretary of state ahead of the Tuesday, June 28 primary. We’re reaching out to all of the candidates this week to discuss their policy positions and plans for the office should they be elected. Chicago…
Tom Cullerton sentenced to 1 year in prison for embezzlement
By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – A federal judge in Chicago handed down a one-year prison sentence Tuesday for a former state senator who once chaired the Senate Labor Committee. Tom Cullerton, a Villa Park Democrat, pleaded guilty earlier this year to one count of embezzlement for receiving salary and benefits from…
CAPITOL RECAP: State Supreme Court again declines to rule on FOID Act
By CAPITOL NEWS ILLINOIS SPRINGFIELD – In a 4-3 decision with a blistering dissent from the Republican minority, the Illinois Supreme Court declined to rule on a question of whether Illinois Firearm Owners Identification Act is unconstitutional. It was the second time the case of the People v. Vivian Brown came before the court and…
State audit finds billions in unemployment fraud
By BETH HUNDSDORFER Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – A state audit released Thursday found nearly $2 billion in federal money intended to help unemployed Illinoisans during the pandemic was lost to fraudulent claims in Illinois. The Illinois Department of Employment Security blamed “insufficient and flawed federal guidance” and a lack of controls on a…