News Report Staff

From bans on elephant traveling shows to accommodating breastfeeding in high schools, the list of new state laws for 2018 offers some commonsense and a few head scratching moments.

The Illinois General Assembly approved more than 200 laws in 2017 that take effect January 1. After perusing the full list compiled by lawmakers, some of the new laws stuck out for different reasons.

Consider House Bill 2369/PA 100-0029 that requires all public schools in Illinois to provide reasonable accommodations to a lactating student on a school campus for breastfeeding an infant or addressing other needs related to breastfeeding. This also allows for a reasonable time so students can fulfill breastfeeding responsibilities or expressing breast milk.

If you dream of marching elephants into the center of a traveling circus someday, well you can pack that wish away in Illinois. Senate Bill 1342/PA 100-0090 makes participation in traveling elephant shows a Class A misdemeanor. This law reflects on the history of mistreatment of elephants by different traveling shows. The potential cost for this crime is not peanuts. It ranges from $500 to $10,000. This law does not apply to non-mobile exhibits, including zoos.

If your child is a terror to other children at the daycare, there is an alternative to expulsion from the facility. HB 2663/PA 100-0105 provides steps for planned transitions, not expulsions, for children who exhibit persistent and serious challenging behavior.

Illinois residents will now have more protection from cyberstalking. HB 3251/PA 00-0166 expands the cyberstalking statute by prohibiting the electronic harassment of a person using spyware or electronic tracking software to transmit a threat of immediate or future bodily harm, sexual assault, confinement or restraint toward a person or family member of that person.

In addition, HB 3711/PA 100-0197 adds cyberstalking, transmission of obscene messages and certain acts of intimidation to the list of crimes that can be prosecuted as hate crimes to address the increased technology to attack people. This adds a civil penalty up to $25,000 for each violation confirmed by the Attorney General’s office.

HB 2390/PA 100-0260 removes the cap on restitution for a hate crime committed in or causing damage to a place of worship. It requires offenders to perform at least 200 hours of public or community service and also enroll in an educational program discouraging hate crimes as a condition of probation or conditional discharge.

There are many new laws regarding public education in Illinois. Here are just a few.

Apparently, the CEO program here might have drawn some attention in Springfield with the passage of HB 3368/PA 100-0174. This legislation has the Illinois State Board of Education posting resources regarding teaching entrepreneurial skills in secondary schools. ISBE will gather input from universities and business groups when developing the list of resources.

Another piece of legislation might enhance the teaching of high-skilled manufacturing in Illinois. HB 3369/PA 100-0175 requires ISBE to post resources on manufacturing education in high schools and vocational education programs.

On school employee investigations, HB 3394/PA 100-0176 authorizes the Department of Children and Family Services to recommend that a school district remove a school employee who is the subject of an investigation.

There are also some “It’s About Time” legislation taking effect in 2018.

House Bill 470/PA 100-0121 names corn as the official state grain of Illinois. Anyone driving through the state from June to September won’t be surprised, and the state’s deer population undoubtedly appreciates the abundance of corn, too.

The Recreational Trails Program Fund, established by House Bill 2725/PA 100-0127, ensured money received from the federal government for recreation trails for grants or contracts will not be considered for use as aid in construction of highways by being placed in the “Park and Conservation Fund.”

Injured police dogs will receive added respect under House Bill 2661/PA 100-0108. This allows emergency medical professionals to transport police dogs injured in the line of duty to a veterinary clinic. Of course, human casualties will take precedence on medical treatment or emergency transport, but this legislation recognizes the heroic efforts of police dogs.

And pets can be part of a divorce settlement with SB 1261/PA 100-0422. This law allows a court to allocate sole or joint ownership or responsibility for a companion animal, or pet, of the parties involved in a divorce. The decision will be based on the well-being of the animal. It does not concern service animals trained for helping people with disabilities.

On medical care, HB 223/PA 100-0293 authorizes physicians and Alzheimer’s disease facilities to provide any nursing home resident with an identification wrist bracelet. This would apply to residents with a history of wandering, but the resident’s guardian or attorney can deny use of the wristlet.

A change in birth certificate rules is established by HB 1785/PA 100-0360. It allows for the issuance of new birth certificates for those who have undergone gender transition treatment. This requires confirmation by licensed health care or mental health professionals.

Some employees might ask their bosses if August 4 will be a day off, starting in 2018. After all, SB 55/PA 100-0037 designates August 4 of each year as Barack Obama Day.