As the Illinois Valley heads into 2013 there are a long list of new laws that local community leaders applaud, some that are controversial, and some that are just plain strange.
The NewsTribune examined hundreds of new laws that will take affect Jan. 1 and hand-picked a few of those that are noteworthy and other that are head scratching.
If you are a parent or guardian who thinks it’s OK to let underage people drink alcohol under your supervision you may want to rethink that decision.
While that practice is illegal, upon Jan. 1 that crime will be classified as a Class A misdemeanor (one step below a felony) and carry a sentence of up to one year in jail along with associated fines and court costs.
The move is being applauded by local law enforcement officials because like stronger driving under the influence penalties, increased penalties directly correlates to a drop in that specific crime.
“The stronger the penalty the louder the message that this won’t be tolerated,” said Peru police chief Doug Bernabei. “There have been cases where we’ve proved or had strong suspicion of this going on in the Illinois Valley. As parents, we can’t allow that to happen.”
Here are some other laws going into affect that received high praise.
- “Caylee’s Law” — it will be a felony to fail to report the death or disappearance of a child under the age of 13 within 24 hours, or within an hour if the child is under the age of 2.
- The Illinois Transparency and Accountability Portal will include a searchable database of all current and future county, township and municipal employees sorted by title, current pay rate and year-to-date pay.
- Employers may no longer require workers to divulge the passwords to their social networking accounts and websites.
A new law beginning Jan. 1 may seem like your child’s health records will be open to the public but that isn’t necessarily true.
The law states all public and registered nonpublic schools must make student immunization and health exam statistics publicly available, enabling the public to see how many students have not been immunized among other medical data.
However, Katie Main, a nurse at Putnam County Elementary School District, said schools are still bound by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act privacy rules so no student names will be attached to the data.
“There’s nothing for us to hide,” Main said. “These are statistics that we report to the state and now they will become public.”
Some other controversial laws include:
-Hospitals are required to promote breastfeeding.
- Commercial motor vehicle operators are now banned from using a hand-held mobile phone or engaging in texting while driving, bringing state code into compliance with federal regulations.
-Law enforcement officials no longer need a court order to secretly tape people who are suspected of drug crimes.
Sometimes lawmakers pass laws that never get much publicity, but are nonetheless interesting, comical, or as State Rep. Frank Mautino (D-Spring Valley) calls: “dumb.”
One such “dumb” bill that will become law Jan. 1 makes trading and selling shark fins illegal in Illinois. Mautino voted “no” on the bill.
“I thought it was kinda dumb so I tend to vote ‘no’ on dumb bills,” Mautino said. “We do enough telling people what they can and can’t do. I thought it was dumb to tell a restaurant that legally buys shark fins to make something like soup to sell that they couldn’t do it.”
Some other strange laws include:
- The outlawing of wheelies on motorcycles (it was already subject to fines, but is now outlawed).
- Ambulances no longer have to stop and pay highway tolls.
-The “Road Kill Bill,” which allows people permitted to take fur to collect any fur-bearing animal found dead on a road.
“Sometimes there are reasons for some of these bills but for some, like that shark fin bill, I think we have bigger problems like Asian carp,” Mautino said.
Kevin Caufield can be reached at (815) 220-6932 or firstname.lastname@example.org.