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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

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.

GSWNH FightFor15Sign 123121

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

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.

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