2020 is bringing a number of new laws to Illinois. As the year progresses, you’ll see changes in education, consumer protection, rights and resources for inmates, labor and workers’ rights, protections for animals, safety on the road, law enforcement, insurance and medical care, and more.
At Prince Law Firm, we make sure to stay as up-to-date as possible on all the newest laws and amendments. Let’s start the year off by taking a look at just a few of the changes you can expect to see this year.
Increased Traffic Violation Fines
Drivers who disobey traffic-control devices like stoplights in highway construction or maintenance zones face fines between $100 and $1,000. In addition to that, the maximum penalty for hitting a worker in a construction zone is increasing from $10,000 to $25,000.
To keep students safe, the fine is being doubled for illegally passing a school bus. Now, the fine rests at $300 for a first offense. Subsequent offenses will cost a negligent driver $1,000.
Changes are also being made to Scott’s Law. The law requires drivers to change lanes, slow down, and proceed with caution when an emergency vehicle approaches or a car is disabled on the road. The penalty is increasing from $100 to $250 for a first offense. Second-time offenders could see fines up to $10,000.
Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act
One of the highest-profile laws going into effect in 2020 is the legalization of recreational cannabis. Illinois is now the eleventh state to legalize marijuana for adults over the age of 21. On June 25, 2019, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed House Bill 1438, effectively ending cannabis prohibition.
Starting January 1, 2020, those old enough may purchase and possess cannabis products from licensed stores. Possession is limited to 30 grams of raw cannabis, cannabis-infused products containing no more than 500 mg of THC, and five grams of cannabis product in concentrated form.
Additionally, HB 1438 brings with it criminal justice reforms, including a clemency process used for convictions up to 30 grams. Those expungements are automatic. For amounts of 30-500 grams, the clemency process applies but the individual must file a petition. It’s estimated that 770,000 cannabis-related records will be eligible for expungement.
Amending the Illinois Human Rights Act
Changes were made to the Illinois Human Rights Act back in August 2019, but the new laws do not become effective until July 1, 2020. Essentially, the definition of employer is being expanded from those with at least 15 employees to those with one or more.
Previously, the Illinois Human Rights Act only applied to businesses with 15 or more employees, except in cases of sexual harassment and disability or pregnancy harassment. Under the new definition, however, many small businesses in Illinois will be subject to race, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and age discrimination claims.
It’s likely that employers who are now included in the expanded definition will need to review their employee handbooks, personnel procedures, and training materials to ensure they are in compliance with the state laws.
The Workplace Transparency Act
The new Workplace Transparency Act, which went into effect January 1, 2020, features elements involving arbitration agreements, employment agreements, and separation agreements. It’s important for employees and employers to be aware of the potential implications.
Under the Act, there are new limitations on how to enforce confidentiality requirements in settlement and separation agreements. Overall, confidentiality must be beneficial to both the employee and employer, as well as the documented preference of the employee. The employee must be aware of their right to receive legal advice prior to signing and they have up to 21 days to consider the agreement. If they accept the agreement, they have seven days to revoke their acceptance, but that revocation period can be knowingly and voluntarily waived.
The Hotel and Casino Employee Safety Act
In an effort to protect individuals at work in the hospitality industry, the Hotel and Casino Employee Safety Act was signed. This Act requires hotels and casinos to equip employees with safety devices, like a panic button, when they’re working alone in a guest room, restroom, or casino floor. If activated, the device will summon help to the employee’s location. They are to be provided to employees at no additional cost.
The Act also implements a sexual harassment policy. Hotel and casino employers are required to implement a policy that protects employees from sexual assault and harassment by guests. The policy should encourage employees to immediately report instances of assault or harassment.
In addition to that, the policies must include a description of the procedures that need to be filed once a complaint has been brought forward. The employee is allowed to cease work and leave the area immediately. Employers should offer employees temporary work assignments that remove them from dangerous situations. The employee is also eligible for paid time off to file a police report or criminal complaint against the offending guest and to testify as a witness if need be.
Prince Law Firm is dedicated to helping the residents of Marion with their legal matters. That involves explaining laws that could potentially affect a personal injury case. If you have questions about the laws mentioned above, other law changes coming to Illinois in 2020, or a potential claim, get in touch with our attorneys today.