Many of the 200 new laws were widely reported by the mainstream press, for example the laws that fine backseat riders 16 and older, if they are not wearing a seatbelt. The driver gets the ticket for younger riders. But there are a few laws that were not reported that may affect you — some good, some bad.
Motorcycle riders have long complained that the sensors that cause streetlights to change don’t detect bikes and therefore, if they are the only vehicle at the light, it never changes. Finally, relef is here. According to WGN-TV’s website that has an aggregate list if the laws:
Motorcycle Red Lights (HB 2860/PA 97-0627): Allows motorcyclists stopped at a red light to proceed through the light if, after waiting a reasonable length of time, the red light fails to change to green. Governor Quinn issued an amendatory veto to change the language of the measure, however both the House and Senate overrode his changes and the bill became law as originally passed.
The “reasonable length” language, unfortunately, makes the violation of the offense a judgment call by law enforcement. Better language would have specified the number of light cycles the bike must sit through to be in compliance.
A win for transparency and simplicity is the Illinois Tax Disclosure Act that “Directs the Dept. of Revenue to create an online searchable data base of all tax rates in the state, which will be publicly available by January 1, 2012. It must include all taxes: income, sales, property, and business taxes imposed by taxing districts and by the State.”
Now when you retire, if for some inexplicable reason you decide to stay in this state, you can at least determine the municipality that gives you the least taxes for the most services.
For small cottage industries that may make cakes, pastries or, as the new law calls them, “non-potentially hazardous food,” that’s produced or packaged in a home kitchen, the General Assembly deregulated the industry “so only “State-certified local public health departments” would be permitted to regulate cottage food operation.”
This should relieve some budding entrepreneurs of some of the hoops they have to jump through while trying to get their business started on a shoestring. On the other hand, one would hope mayonnaise laden products such as elotes — corn on the cob with mayonnaise on it, frequently sold by street vendors — would not fall into the “non-hazardous food” category.
Those are a few wins for taxpayers, but there were some losses too.
The Closed Meeting Act requires that boards of public agencies hold open meetings with exceptions for certain sensitive items such as employee issues. The 2012 version of the law adds the following exception, according to WGN-TV:
Closed Meetings (HB 1277/PA 97-0318): Creates an exemption in the Open Meetings Act to allow public bodies to hold closed meetings with auditors or financial committees, if the meeting was called to discuss suspected or potential fraud, or internal control weaknesses.
One would think, especially in Illinois, that this type of issue is precisely what the Closed Meetings Act was trying to prevent — the opportunity for boards to sweep fraud and “internal control weaknesses” under the rug.
Ten points if you can name the agency that had just this problem, only last year.
Again the representatives of Illinois vote with their wealthy campaign contributors, rather than their cash-strapped, overtaxed constituents.
Debt Collection (HB 1513/PA 97-0120): Allows employers to deduct wages without the employee’s consent in order to collect a debt owed to a municipality or to recoup excess money that was paid by a municipality in error.
Pay up those parking tickets. Emanuel will jump on this one to collect past-due parking fines. One would hope the law requires a court order and that it follows federal laws that prohibit wage garnishments that reduce your pay to less than minimum wage.
In a nod to rental companies, who no doubt are complaining about all the red light cameras and the tickets they have to pay when their customers blow them, Illinois decided this was too burdensome for them and beginning in January, if a red light camera catches you blowing a light in the rental car, guess who gets the ticket now – you do.
Rental Car Traffic Citations (HB 1593/PA 97-0029): Allows for a rental car company to provide the name of a previous renter to the SoS to ensure the renter of a car, not the rental company, receives any citation issued to them as the result of an automated traffic camera.
Funny how that works. Parking tickets go with the car, moving violatons go with the driver. Since red light tickets are parking violations rather than moving violations, if you loan your car to someone who gets caught by a camera, you get the ticket. Somehow that axion no longer applies to rental companies. Will companies renting moving trucks be next for this break?
And if you thought you were immune to paying the surcharge for 9-1-1 calls because you have a pre-paid cell phone, you were until they passed 9-1-1 Surcharge (SB 2063/PA 97-0463), which requires merchants to collect the surcharge at the point of sale.
By far the most hypocritical law passed, since it seems all but possessing a cell phone in a car is illegal here, is the new law that allows “video cameras in cars featuring entertainment or business applications to be displayed on the front monitor so long as the images are not viewable by the driver while operating the vehicle.”
Next they’ll allow web conferences to be attended while driving as long as you promise not to look at the presentation material.
Welcome to Illinois 2012.