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New Year’s Day brings more than 250 new Illinois laws into effect

The Illinois State Capitol. | Sun-Times file photo

The Illinois State Capitol in Springfield. | Sun-Times file photo

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois lawmakers completed the state’s 100th General Assembly in its bicentennial year, and will ring in 2019 with 253 new laws on the books.

The youngest children in cars will be required to ride in rear-facing seats, blaze pink will be acceptable for hunters’ wardrobes, opioid abuse and school safety will take center stage and a Route 66 centennial planning commission will convene.

Here’s a look at some of the new year’s new laws:

Child restraint and traffic safety

Children younger than two must ride in rear-facing child-restraint seats in automobiles. Children taller than 40 inches or weighing more than 40 pounds are exempt.

The first offense carries a $75 fine at the discretion of local authorities.

Sun-Times file photo

Sun-Times file photo

Rescue vehicles in Chicago will be required to use sirens and lamps only when “reasonably necessary to warn pedestrians and other drivers” of their approach.

The law also tasks the secretary of state with updating the “Rules of the Road” with information on the “Dutch Reach” method of opening car doors. While sitting in the driver’s seat at the curb, the Dutch Reach involves reaching across the body with the right hand to open the door, thereby encouraging a glance over the shoulder at oncoming traffic.

Backup vehicular lights will be required to emit a white or amber light without a glare.

100 years of 66 kicks

Route 66, the storied “Mother Road” that connected Chicago to Santa Monica, California in one of the nation’s earliest interstate highways, turns 100 in 2026. A commission to celebrate its centennial begins work.

AP file photo

AP file photo

Firearms

A 72-hour waiting period for purchases of firearms takes effect after a year of scuffling over gun restrictions in the wake of continued mass shootings.

Sun-Times file photo

Sun-Times file photo

Legislative Democrats wanted to impose a 72-hour waiting period on assault-style weapons, similar to the one in place for handguns. Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner decided consistency demanded a 72-hour waiting period for all guns.

Another law will allow family members or police to petition courts to take guns away from people who pose a danger to themselves or others. A judge may issue the order without notice but a hearing must be conducted within 14 days.

Opioid epidemic

Those with licenses to prescribe opioids must complete three hours of continuing education on safe opioid-use practices before renewing their prescription licenses.

Another law bars insurance and managed-care companies from requiring prior notification for specified in- or outpatient substance-abuse treatment in order to get those with drug-use disorders the help they need quickly.

The state’s Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, part of the Department of Human Services, will be renamed the Division of Substance Use Prevention and Recovery, and the law governing it will be rewritten to better reflect the priority given to the opioid-abuse epidemic. The aim is to provide clearer guidelines for medical and community-based organizations that provide intervention and treatment, and for insurance companies to adopt a standardized approach to such care.

Military veterans

Veterans and active duty military service members who are believed to have physical or mental health problems may now be considered “high risk” if they go missing.

Health-care facilities will have to provide a free copy of a homeless veteran’s medical records when requested by the veteran or an authorized agent for the purpose of supporting a veteran’s claim for disability benefits.

Hunters

Blaze pink joins blaze orange as acceptable hunting apparel to ensure that sportsmen and -women are seen by other hunters.

Public safety

Every school in Illinois must conduct at least one active-shooter safety drill administered by local police annually.

Carnival operators must conduct criminal background checks on every ride operator they employ. A background check was previously required but state officials had no capacity to revoke a violator’s permit.

Stalking laws will expand to include unwanted messages sent through social media apps. And the law allows businesses, churches and other places of worship, and schools to seek restraining orders against stalkers.

The Department of Corrections will be required to collect and report violence in prisons and publish public-safety reports. They’ll include numbers of assaults, sexual assaults, contraband, weapons, suicide and segregation.

Rights at work, elsewhere

If the boss requires you to use your personal phone or computer for work, the boss must have a reimbursement policy.

The Equal Pay Act expands to prohibit employer discrimination by paying African American employees at rates less than non-African American workers.

And in an expansion of #MeToo anti-sexual harassment protections, any company wishing to do business with the state must have policies on addressing sexual harassment complaints. The same is true for companies participating in the EDGE job-creation tax-credit program.

Another law allows nursing mothers to be excused from jury duty at their request.

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