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New Year Brings 214 New Laws in Illinois

From a new murderer database to stricter seat-belt enforcement, here’s a look at some of the new legislation taking effect in the new year.

As the clock strikes midnight Jan. 1, more than 200 new laws will go into effect in Illinois, including a database of first-degree murderers, stricter seat-belt enforcement and legislation that gives the public greater access to government information.

“Though many Illinois residents may not realize it, every Jan. 1, hundreds of new laws take effect in Illinois," said State Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-). "While some of the measures will have a greater impact than others, I always think it’s a good idea to let the public know about the new laws—some of them could have a significant influence on someone’s life or career."

Here's a look at some of the new laws:

Andrea's Law

Illinois residents and law enforcement agencies will be able to easily identify individuals convicted of first-degree murder with the .

House Bill 263, better known as "Andrea's Law," will require all former first-degree murder convicts to be on a registry for 10 years following their release from prison. They will be placed on the existing Sex Offender Registry or the amended Murderer and Violent Offender Against Youth Registry.

The law is named after , a Batavia woman who was strangled to death by her boyfriend, Justin Boulay, while she was attending Eastern Illinois University in 1998. There was significant public outcry last winter when after serving a sentence of only 12 years, and moved to Hawaii with his new wife. To read about the restrictions Boulay must live under on the island, click .

“House Bill 263, Andrea’s Law, would not only finally service justice for Andrea, but also for all of the families who have lost a loved one at the hands of another,” Will's mother, Patty Rosenberg, . “We need to make sure there is accountability for first-degree murder beyond the prison gate.”

Stricter Seat Belt Enforcement

For the first time, adults sitting in the back seat of a vehicle next year could be ticketed should they fail to wear a seat belt.

House Bill 219 requires all adult passengers sitting in the back seat to wear a seat belt. Failure to comply could result in a fine not to exceed $25.

Previously, the only passengers required to wear seat belts were those in the front seat, children younger than 8 years of age and passengers younger than 19 being driven by someone younger then 18.

Increased Penalties for Financial Abuse of the Elderly

Criminals who take advantage of the elderly for financial gain will face stiffer penalties in 2012.

House Bill 1689, sponsored by Rep. Emily McAsey (R-Lockport), increases criminal penalties for financial exploitation of the elderly, based on the amount of money that is stolen. Exploitation includes taking seniors' money, property or valuables, denying services to conserve funds, or cashing pension or social security checks without permission.

“Financial fraud and abuse of senior citizens is an often underreported crime that requires greater attention from lawmakers and law enforcement,” McAsey said. “By imposing stiffer penalties on criminals who defraud their own elderly family members or other members of the senior community, we can help better protect those who are sometimes unable fight for themselves.”

Other laws taking effect Jan. 1:

  • Senate Bill 98 provides residents at federal veterans facilities with the same voting options and assistance as residents at state facilities and nursing homes.
  • Senate Bill 1833 makes changes to language in state law to replace the term "mental retardation" with "intellectual disability" and "crippled" with "physically disabled."
  • House Bill 3238 expands the list of those arrested or convicted of certain crimes who are required to submit to DNA testing. Crimes include first-degree murder, home invasion, predatory criminal sexual assault of a child, aggravated criminal sexual assault and criminal sexual assault.
  • House Bill 3283 enacts tougher penalties for filming, videotaping or creating a moving image of child pornography, or possessing such items.
  • Senate Bill 1038 provides tools to prosecute individuals who attempt to lure children for sexual purposes. Under the new law, individuals convicted of child luring must undergo a sex offender evaluation prior to sentencing. The law also increases the penalty to a Class 2 felony for the second offense when the person has a prior conviction of a sex offense.
  • House Bill 167 prohibits shining a laser into a cockpit when a plane is taking off or landing.
  • House Bill 2595 enacts new penalities for selling manufactured substances known as "cannabinoids," which produce a high similar to marijuana.
  • House Bill 1562 provides the public access to hospital report cards through the Illinois Department of Public Health website.
  • Senate Bill 43 provides access to information on income, sales, property and business taxes imposed across the state—all of which can be access through the Illinois Department of Revenue's website.
  • House Bill 1359 allows fire departments to prohibit open burning on an emergency basis when wind, weather or other factors create a risk of fire spreading.
  • House Bill 3033 establishes a statewide criminal street gang prevention and intervention grant program, which will be operated by the Illinois Department of Justice using federal dollars.
  • House Bill 2875 states that the natural mother, father or spouse of an Illinois veteran, who was killed in the line of duty, is entitled to admission to Illinois veterans homes if there is space.
  • House Bill 2099 requires all employees of licensed child care facilities who care for newborns or infants to complete training every three years on sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and on safe sleep recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
  • House Bill 3281 allows a school board to suspend or expel a student who has made an explicit threat on a website against a school employee or student.
  • House Bill 1670 requires all current and future elected and appointed officials in Illinois to take Open Meetings Act training courses administered by the Public Access Counselor in the Attorney General’s office.
Cincinnatus December 30, 2011 at 12:07 AM
Here's a link with a summary of the new laws: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Citizens-for-Kirk-Dillard/139938489438006 You'll need to scroll down a bit to see the actual link.
Steve Osterling December 30, 2011 at 04:48 PM
The fine is not to exceed $25, which seems laughable - hard to imagine local governments using this as a money making device. But the law allows the ticketing of the passenger - not the driver. Seems like a law that could be used to inconvenience or harass passengers that could otherwise not be ticketed for driving violations. I suspect if the law is enforced at all, it will be targeted at, for example, carloads of young adults cruising around - I doubt there will be many grey-haired grandparents being ticketed. Much more lucrative for lawyers than local governments.
Brian Mc December 30, 2011 at 05:14 PM
I'll never understand why motorcycle riders and passengers are not required to wear a helmet, but those inside a car with myriad airbags are required to wear seatbelts. If safety was the goal, I'd think helmets and proper road rash clothes would be just as prudent as a seat belt.
Cincinnatus December 30, 2011 at 05:42 PM
People who create or are caught with films, videotapes or moving images of child pornography will face tougher penalties under a measure sponsored by Sen. Kirk Dillard, R-Hinsdale. Such a crime will now be a Class X felony, which could lead to increased jail time and fines of up to $100,000. That's more serious punishment than the penalties for photographing or possessing still pictures of child pornography. Dillard said that's because moving pictures are "more provoking than still images" and could make sexual predators "more likely to act on their urges." http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-new-laws-20111230,0,4117348,full.story
Jim Court January 03, 2012 at 03:15 AM
Melanie, You are absolutely correct. Everyone should read the book, "The Tyranny of Good Intentions, How Prosecutors and Police are trampling the constitution in the name of justice by Paul Craig Roberts. A compelling yet frightening book.

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