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New Illinois Laws 2017: 25 Laws That Could Change Your Life

Nearly 200 new laws will take effect Jan. 1, 2017, in Illinois. While the state’s Democratic and Republican lawmakers still couldn’t agree on a state budget, they were able to pass laws applying to feminine hygiene products, synthetic drugs disguised as consumer products, marijuana, health, fishing, driving violations, privacy and more. Here are 25 of the most significant and interesting changes to Illinois law and how they might affect you.


Synthetic Drugs

Prosecutors will have an easier time going after gas stations, convenience stores and other retailers caught selling synthetic drugs disguised as “bath salts,” which mimic cocaine and other powerful drugs. Retailers in violation face fines of up to $150,000 and revocation of their business licenses by local governments.


People caught with small amounts of marijuana of up to 10 grams will now face citations carrying fines of $100 to $200 instead of six months possible jail time and fines of up to $1,500.


New Adoption Registry Disclosures

New bills adding to list of adoption disclosures, including reasons stated by birth parents for placing a child for adoption and making it easier for birth and adoptive parents to exchange medical and background information if beneficial to the adoptee.

Grandparent Visitation

Grandparents and great-grandparents will be allowed to visit grandchildren in the custody of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

Sick Leave Flexibility

Employers that provide sick leave benefits are required to allow employees to use their leave to care for immediate family members due to illness, injury or medical appointment of the employee’s child, stepchild, spouse, sibling, parent, parent-in-laws, grandchild, grandparent or stepparent.


Breakfast After the Bell

Illinois schools with 70 percent or more low-income students are mandated to serve breakfast after the instructional day has begun, as well as before school.

Excused to Play Taps

Students may be excused from school to play “Taps” at military funerals.

Driver Education

All driver education teachers will be required to instruct students on proper actions to take during a traffic stop by law enforcement.


Railroad Crossings

Drivers who drive around lowered gates at grade crossings will face stiffer fines for violating railroad crossings laws. Fines will increase to $500 for the first offense and $1,000 for each subsequent violation.

Smile — You’re on Camera

Private transportation companies that transport people or goods on a contracted basis will be allowed to have a video recorder operating, provided there is a sign posted stating that a passenger’s conversation may be recorded.


Hero Highways

Families of fallen military members killed in action may request an honorary sign around designated roads.


Renter Scofflaws

People who fail to return $500 or more in rental equipment within three days after the rental period has expired will be charged with a felony.

Employees’ Online Privacy

Employers will no longer be able to ask employees or prospective employees for their user names and passwords to personal online accounts, including social media accounts.

Domestic Violence Awareness

Hairdressers, nail technicians, braiders, cosmetologists and estheticians applying for or renewing their state licenses are now required to take one hour of continuing education to spot signs of domestic violence or sexual assault and provide clients with resources to get the help the need.


Retired Police K-9s

Police officers will be given first preference to adopting their retiring canine partners so that the K-9 can remain part of the officer’s family. If the human officer is unable to adopt his or her K-9, the bill also ensures that a fellow officer or employee can give the retired dog a home rather ending up in a shelter.

Catfish Beware

Anglers can now catch catfish with a pitchfork, spear gun or bow and arrow.



Mandates Illinois insurance companies to provide coverage for almost all FDA-approved contraceptive drugs without additional costs, including contraceptive drugs, devices, supplies and voluntary sterilization. Insurance companies are required to cover up to 12 months of contraceptives.

Strengthening Patient Rights

Ensures patients receive information about treatment options, regardless of the medical provider’s religious beliefs, including abortion referrals.

Tampon Tax

Sales tax will be eliminated on feminine hygiene products, such as tampons and menstrual pads.


Freedom of Information

Allows courts to fine public bodies between $2,500 and $10,000 if they willfully and intentionally failed to comply with Freedom of Information Act requests, including daily fines of $1,000 if the public body fails to comply with the court’s order after 30 days to address FOIA.



Child victims will be allowed to testify in battery and domestic abuse cases to via closed-circuit television to spare them the trauma of testifying in open court.

Juvenile Offenders

Raises the age from 13 to 15 for minors accused of homicide and certain sex offenses to be represented by legal counsel throughout the interrogation process.


Official State Artifact

Designates the pirogue, a long narrow canoe made from a single tree trunk, as the official state artifact.

Egg Candling

No grade A or AA eggs may be sold to consumers 45 days or more after candling, a method used by poultry keepers in which a bright light is shined through the shell to determine the quality of edible eggs.

Redefining Amputations

“Amputations” — meaning amputations of the human foot, in whole or in part — are limited to “10 centimeters proximal to the tibiotalar articulation.”