Beginning New Year’s Day, parents in Illinois can be charged with a crime for allowing their underaged children – or anyone else younger than 21 – to drink alcohol on any property they own or rent.
The state also has made it more difficult to use a cellphone while driving; day care facilities need to be tested for radon; car owners will need to pay more for their license plates to help pay for state parks; nonviolent offenders can avoid prison time; intentionally not paying sales tax may result in jail time; and local governments now can hide from the public how much in sales taxes they are rebating to businesses that open new shops, hotels, restaurants or dealerships in town.
These changes to state law mark just a few of the more than 150 laws taking effect today.
Some laws already have made headlines, such as Public Act 97-1049.
That law specifically makes it a crime to allow underage drinking at parents’ or guardians’ homes, barns, cabins, boathouses and any other property they own.
Others in Illinois may be familiar with the changes brought by Public Act 97-830, which makes it illegal to use a mobile phone while driving in any construction or road maintenance zone, not just those with reduced speed limits.
The state also has moved in Public Act 97-829 to prohibit all handheld mobile devices use while driving commercial vehicles.
And in Public Act 97-795, the state has redefined commercial vehicles to include vans, capable of transporting nine to 15 people, if the driver is being paid to transport the occupants of the vehicle.
Other laws that will take effect today include:
• Public Act 97-976, which requires counties, cities and villages to file standard reports to the Illinois Department of Revenue on all sales tax rebate agreements the local governments enact with businesses. The forms would include the names and locations of the businesses with which the local government is entering into the agreements, which typically are used to spur economic development by helping new stores, restaurants, hotels and other businesses offset costs of building their facilities. The reports will include the amount that would be rebated and how it would be rebated. But the law also allows the local government and the state to withhold certain specifics of the deal, including the amount of sales tax that is expected to be collected and rebated from the public, making that information exempt from the Freedom of Information Act.
• Public Act 97-981, which requires licensed day care centers and day care homes to be tested for radon at least once every three years. Those results need to be posted at the center or home.
• Public Act 97-1074, which creates the crime of sales tax evasion. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said the law is the result of an ongoing investigation of gas stations to recover sales taxes from station operators who the state believes underreported revenues to avoid paying taxes. Those convicted of sales tax evasion now could face sentences of up to 15 years in prison, depending on the amount of taxes not paid.
• Public Act 97-1136, which enacts a host of fees, including entrance and use fees, to raise an estimated $32 million for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to maintain public lands in the state. Those fees also include a $2 surcharge tacked onto the cost of every license plate renewal sticker sold.
• Public Act 97-1118, which creates a 12-month diversion program to allow those charged with nonviolent felonies, including burglary, theft and possession of a stolen vehicle or of certain amounts of illegal drugs, to avoid jail time.
• Public Act 97-733, which makes it illegal to possess, sell or distribute shark fins in Illinois.
• Public Act 97-1035, which requires those entering “adult entertainment facilities” to pay a $3 fee to fund sexual assault prevention efforts in Illinois.
• Public Act 97-1063, which eliminates “unnecessary delays” in adoptions of children in which the child is already living with the prospective adoptive parents, and all parties have consented to the adoption.
• Public Act 97-850, which allows the IDNR to require people to clean boats and other watercraft before putting their craft in bodies of water in Illinois.
• Public Act 97-743, which imposes a fine of $1,000 on anyone who pops a wheelie on a motorcycle while speeding.
• Public Act 97-723, which requires those attempting to sell scrap metal to provide greater proof that they actually own the metal, and which provides for tougher penalties for those illegally selling or buying stolen scrap metal.