New laws '14: No ifs, ands or butts

New laws '14: No ifs, ands or butts


SPRINGFIELD — New Illinois laws banning motorists’ use of most cellphones and increasing the speed limit on most interstate highways to 70 mph aren’t the only major changes in the Illinois statutes on Jan. 1.

Also going into effect: 


Medical marijuana

Illinois will become the 20th state to legalize marijuana for medical use on Jan. 1, although it’s going to take a while for draft rules to become enacted and sales to begin. 

Lawmakers last spring approved legislation authorizing a four-year pilot program where physicians could prescribe up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks to a patient with whom they had an ongoing relationship. 

The marijuana, prescribed to ease pain and other effects of illnesses and disease, would be sold at state-licensed and regulated dispensaries. The sponsor of the bill (HB 1), Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, said that sales of medical marijuana in Illinois would be tightly regulated and “that every ounce of medical marijuana would be tracked.”

Users would have to suffer from one of 33 disabilities listed in the law, such as cancer, muscular dystrophy, glaucoma and AIDS. 

Among area lawmakers, only state Sen. Mike Frerichs, D-Champaign, and Rep. Naomi Jakobsson, D-Urbana, voted for the bill.


Teen tanning

The law, HB188, bans anyone under the age of 18 from using equipment that emits ultraviolet radiation, including sun lamps and tanning booths. They also will not be able to use tanning beds that emit certain electromagnetic radiation wavelengths. 

The law doesn’t apply to devices used in private residences, phototherapy devices used by physicians or spray tans. 

Most area senators voted for the measure, although Sens. Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington, and Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, voted against it. In the House, however, all area representatives opposed the measure except Jakobsson.


17-year-old primary voting

Seventeen-year-olds in Illinois will be allowed to vote in a primary election if they will be 18 by the time of the November general election. 

Nineteen other states already allow 17-year-olds to vote in primaries, according to supporters of the measure (HB 226). 

Among area lawmakers, Reps. Jakobsson; Adam Brown, R-Champaign; Bill Mitchell, R-Decatur; and Brad Halbrooke, R-Shelbyville, voted yes. Reps. Chad Hays, R-Catlin, and Josh Harms, R-Watseka, voted no. Only nine senators opposed the bill, among them was Rose.


Sex education

Public school sex education courses offered to sixth- through 12th-graders would have to be medically accurate and age appropriate, and the Illinois State Board of Education would make available resource materials and may take into consideration materials from other states as well as “materials suggested by education experts and other groups that work on sex education issues.” 

It’s unclear how much the impact the law (HB 2675) will have since many schools say they already teach both, and the legislation gives school districts the option of not providing any sex education program. 

Frerichs voted for the measure, but all area Republicans voted no. In the House, Jakobsson voted yes while all area Republicans voted no.


Pet ‘lemon’ law

Under SB 1639, pet owners can return a pet or be reimbursed for veterinary costs if an illness was not disclosed by the seller.

In the House, Jakobsson voted yes and all area Republicans voted no. In the Senate, Frerichs, Rose and Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, voted yes, while Barickman and Dale Righter, R-Mattoon, voted no.


Cigarette butts as litter

Lawmakers added cigarette butts to anti-litter laws in HB 3243. First-time offenders could face a fine of up to $1,500 and a Class B misdemeanor. 

Third-time violators could get slapped with a fine up to $25,000 and possibly go to prison.

In the House, Jakobsson voted yes and all area Republicans voted no. All area senators voted for the measure.

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