On January 1, 214 new laws went into effect for the State of Illinois. Here are a few that have a wide impact. Please visit http://www.senatorradogno.org for a complete list of the laws.
Illinois State Police will now begin enforcing the new seat belt law that requires all passengers in a car to wear a seat belt.
The previous law only required that the front seat driver, passenger, and passengers under the age of 19 to wear a seat belt. The new legislation requires all occupants in a car to wear their belts.
"One of the simplest ways to reduce your chances of being seriously injured or killed in a car crash is to wear your seat belt, and that now includes every driver and passenger," said Illinois State Police Division of Operations Colonel Mark Piccoli.
State Police contend that seat belts and child safety seats, along with safety education programs and initiatives, have saved countless lives and contributed to the reduction of traffic crash fatalities in Illinois. According to 2011 statistics, Illinois experienced 895 traffic crash fatalities, 26 fewer fatalities than the previous year.
Seen as one of the worst scenarios of exploitation, often times, the elderly are preyed upon, sometimes losing life savings for retirement.
A new law, spearheaded by state Rep. Emily McAsey, aims to fight back against those taking advantage of the elderly, instituting stiffer new penalties at the start of this year.
"Financial fraud and abuse of senior citizens is an often underreported crime that requires greater attention from lawmakers and law enforcement," McAsey said. "By imposing stiffer penalties on criminals who defraud their own elderly family members or other members of the senior community, we can help better protect those who are sometimes unable to fight for themselves."
Public Act 97-0482 was sponsored by McAsey as a means to increase penalties on those who prey on the elderly. The legislation increases criminal penalties for financial exploitation of an elderly person based on the amount of money that is stolen. According to the AARP, who worked with McAsey to pass the legislation, financial exploitation takes many forms including taking a seniors' money, property, or valuables, denying services or medical care to conserve funds, and cashing pension or social security checks without permission.
"Many of the worst cases of financial exploitation involve family members or trusted care takers who either think they are entitled to the money or think they will never be caught," Nancy Nelson, Senior Advocacy Manager of AARP Illinois said. "Furthermore, some seniors know they are being exploited but do not report the crime for fear of abandonment. It is the worst kind of exploitation and at its most severe it deserves the strongest punishment. "
For more information on financial abuse of the elderly and how to prevent it, call McAsey's constituent service office at 815-372-0085.
Making room for new electronics just got a little tougher. Effective Jan. 1, 2012, a number of personal electronic items will not be accepted into any Illinois landfills.
However, Will County, working with municipalities and townships, have permanent electronic recycling drop-off sites across the county for the convenience of residents. The county currently operates 13 permanent electronic recycling sites and works closely with Vintage Tech Recyclers in Romeoville to provide this service at no cost to taxpayers.
This public-private partnership between Will County and Vintage Tech is the first of its kind in the state of Illinois that allows for free front door pick-up of electronic recycling items.
Due to recent Illinois State legislation, electronic manufacturers are required to cover the cost of recycling their products. Manufacturers contract Vintage Tech Recyclers to recycle their products responsibly. These contracts help cover the costs and by doing so give residents this free service.
As of Jan. 1 the following items are banned from landfills in accordance with the new law:
Video Game Consoles
Digital Converter Boxes
Small Scale Servers
Portable Digital Music Players
Computers (including desktop /notebook/net- book/tablet)
Digital Video Disc Recorders
For more information about Will County's electronic recycling sites visit the website: www.willcountygreen.com. For more information about the residential electronic recycling pickup program through Vintage Tech Recyclers, visit the website: www.vintagetechrecyclers.com, or call 866-631-1707.
Motorcyclists and bicyclists got the right to ride through a red light... under certain conditions, that is. The new state law that went into effect this month allows the two-wheelers to proceed, with caution, through a red light, should the light fail to change to green.
It's a problem with technology, experts say, as the ground sensors on weighted stoplights aren't sensitive enough to detect the presence of anything smaller than a car. But while this may appear to be a bonus for riders, many say it falls short of solving the real problem, which is a lack of adequate technology.
"The law helps the situation, but it's not really a good fix," said motorcyclist Rod Williamson of Plainfield. "Basically, it becomes a bit of ride-at-your-own risk." Cyclists and motorcyclists will be assessing the traffic situation on their own.
Complicating matters is the fact that the new law offers no guidelines as to how much time waited is "reasonable," as the law states.
"A patient person might wait three or four minutes, while someone in a hurry could speed through after 30 seconds," he said.
A new law has been introduced to solve that problem, calling for a specific, 120-second wait rule before proceeding through a red light. As the traffic light sensors are designed to operate on a ninety-second loop, proponents say the 120-second waiting period should be more than ample to combat the situation.
Still, the pressure remains on the rider, as the current law specifies it is the rider's responsibility to make certain the intersection is clear of other vehicles and pedestrians.
"We'd really prefer the sensors be able to know we are there." Williamson said.
The law is only applicable where populations are less than 2 million, so riders in the City of Chicago will have to wait it out.
The new year brings with it new laws, and none more publicized than a coming ban on the sale of synthetic marijuana.
The sale or possession of synthetic marijuana is now a Class 3 felony crime, carrying with it a sentence of up to five years in prison, up to a $150,000 fine and the seizure of illegal stock as well as any property used to facilitate the sale. However, penalties can range as high as 30 years in prison and $500,000 in fines for someone who sells 200 grams or more of synthetic marijuana.
The ban on the sale of synthetic pot came amidst health risks and increasing teen use of the products. For the most part, the drugs contain herbs treated with chemicals that when burned, produce a pot-like high for consumers.
And while sold as "incense" in packages that often state: "Not For Human Consumption," lawmakers contend people have been smoking these products - sometimes with encouragement from shop owners - in the same way people would smoke illegal marijuana. Health risks posed by smoking synthetic cannabinoids include seizures, hallucinations, tremors, paranoia, convulsions, high blood pressure and rapid heart rate.
Anyone who simply possesses synthetic marijuana could be charged with a Class 4 Felony that carries a penalty of up to three years in prison and up to a $25,000 fine.