New Year Brings Wide Variety of New Illinois State Laws

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It’s a new year, and more than 180 new laws are going into effect, which Illinoisans need to know about. The 2022 General Assembly passed bills ranging from changes to the criminal justice system to a new minimum wage. The most far-reaching new law is the Safe-T Act, an 800-page overhaul of the state’s criminal justice system. However, one controversial clause in the act, the elimination of the cash bail system, is on pause after a state judge ruled it unconstitutional last week. Garien Gatewood, director of the Illinois Justice Project, a group supporting the new law, said it could be tied up in the appeals process for several months.

“This thing was a massive overhaul of the criminal legal system,” Gatewood acknowledged. “We have to continue to work and make sure that this thing is implemented properly, piece-by-piece, with stakeholders who are responsible for that and tracking how that’s going.”

Other notable new laws include increasing the minimum wage to $13 an hour, protecting individuals against discrimination based on their hairstyle, and eliminating fees for carjacking victims to pick up their vehicles from impoundment. Another significant measure is the Workers’ Rights Amendment, which guarantees public employees the right to organize and collectively bargain. Approved as a ballot initiative, the constitutional amendment also prohibits future laws limiting labor unions. Ann Lousin, professor of law at the University of Illinois-Chicago, said it is part of a recent trend of unions returning to the workplace.

“It may be the coming thing,” Lousin pointed out. “There are at least nine states that have a right-to-work amendment in their state constitutions, and many more that have it in their statutes.”

And lawmakers, in their official capacity, designated a couple of new state symbols: the eastern milk snake as the official state snake, and dolostone as the official state rock.

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