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Update from the Capitol 1/5/2018

Friday, January 05, 2018 - Posted 9:29:22 AM by Rep. Tom Bennett
As always, you can contact me via webform at, or by phone at (815) 844-9179 (Pontiac) or (815) 432-0106 (Watseka).

2018 brings more than 200 new state laws

With the arrival of the new year, more than 200 bills which were passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor took effect. For the full list of new laws which took effect on January 1, and click on "New Year, New Laws 2018." Keep reading for a quick rundown of some of these new laws.

Protections for relocating service members

Legislation enacted by House Bill 2449 fills in the gaps in the existing Illinois Service Member Civil Relief Act by providing that any service member, at any time after receiving military orders to relocate for a period of service of at least 90 days, may terminate or suspend contracts for Internet services, television and cable services, athletic club or gym memberships or satellite radio services. The new law also provides that a returning member of the military may reinstate the original provisions of contracts upon the completion of their service.

Finding unclaimed life insurance benefits

Insurance providers are required to immediately perform a comparison of certain policies, contracts and accounts in force on or after January 1, 2012, by using the Illinois Death Master File to find unclaimed life insurance benefits. Insurers are given until December 31, 2018, to perform the same comparison in force on or after January 1, 2000. In addition, the Vital Records Act is amended so that any information contained in the vital records is available at no cost to the State Treasurer for purposes related to the Uniform Disposition of Unclaimed Property Act. No person or company is entitled to a fee for discovering presumptively unclaimed property. This legislation was House Bill 302.

Transparency in unfunded mandates

An initiative of the Lieutenant Governor, a new law created by Senate Bill 2066 provides that the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity's (DCEO) catalog of state mandates shall also include a statewide cost of compliance estimate. Unfunded mandates include any state-initiated action that requires a local unit of government to absorb a new function at their own cost.

Lower age for organ donor registry

The Secretary of State will begin to offer each applicant for a driver's license or identification card who is 16 years of age or older (rather than 18 years of age or older) the opportunity to have his or her name included in the First Person Consent organ and tissue donor registry. The new law allows the parent or guardian of the donor to amend or revoke the anatomical gift of the donor's body. The legislation was House Bill 1805.

Training police officers for dealing with the mentally ill

Police training is expanded to include an introductory course for all police on mental health issues. This includes history of mental health systems; types of the illness; medications; and the potential interactions law enforcement officers may have with sufferers and their families. Mental health awareness and response training is added to the minimum in-service training requirements every three years. This new law came about through House Bill 375.

Improved safety while test-driving vehicles

This new law is in honor of Brendan Burke who died as a result of a tragic accident that involved a test-driven car with a number of decals and paperwork that obstructed the driver's view. It provides that no car dealer can allow a customer to test drive a vehicle offered for sale or lease off the car lot if the vehicle has signs, decals, paperwork, or other material on the front windshield or on the windows immediately adjacent to each side of the driver that would obstruct the driver's view. The bill was House Bill 733.

Prohibition of illegal electronic monitoring

This act creates the offense of illegal electronic monitoring to protect citizens' privacy and safety from spyware and tracking software being unknowingly installed or downloaded onto cell phones. This offense is added to the cyberstalking statute of the Criminal Code, and will help protect victims of domestic violence from their abusers discovering their locations. It passed the General Assembly as House Bill 3251.

Educational Credit for Military Experience Act

Under a new law which is created by House Bill 3701, each institution of higher education shall adopt a policy to award academic credit for military training applicable to the student's certificate or degree requirements before June 1, 2018. The policy must apply to any enrolled individual who has completed a military training course. Institutions must develop procedures for awarding credit to the Board of Higher Education and Illinois Community College Board every year.

How much do we owe?

As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $8,757,816,486 in unpaid bills to state vendors. This figure represents the amount of bills submitted to the office of the Comptroller and still awaiting payment. It does not include debts that can only be estimated, such as our unfunded pension liability which is estimated to be more than $100 billion.

Did You Know?

Illinois Secretaries of State were appointed by the Governor under the original state Constitution, but they have been popularly elected since 1848. The first Secretary of State of Illinois was Elias Kent Kane of Randolph County. Kane went on to serve in the U.S. Senate, as did some of his successors, including Stephen Douglas, Lyman Trumbull and Alan Dixon.