More than 200 state laws will become effective with the ringing in of the new year. The BGA has compiled a list of overlooked laws that affect consumers and taxpayers statewide. From expanding consumer protections to extending the powers of voters to consolidate local units of government, here is what you need to know in 2018.

Local government consolidation

Illinois has nearly 7,000 units of government. Senate Bill 3 empowers voters to dissolve units of local government such as townships and some special districts via referendum. The BGA testified in support of SB3 during the budget impasse.

Debt transparency

House Bill 3649 requires every state agency to submit a monthly report to the state comptroller that outlines all its financial liabilities and indicates whether the liabilities are covered by its budget. This change will provide greater fiscal transparency and accountability. The BGA was strongly supportive of HB3649 and submitted a legislative witness slip in favor of its passage.

No pension for part-time officials

In an effort to save taxpayer money, House Bill 3122 prohibits a person who is elected or appointed to a part-time office after December 31, 2017, from participating in the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund. The law also determines that an office is part-time if less than 1,000 hours per year are spent performing the duties of the position. For example, this law would apply to commissioners in mosquito districts, as long as their annual duties are fulfilled in less than 1,000 hours.

Trauma training for cops

House Bill 1895 amends the Illinois Police Training Act to include training on how to recognize and respond to stress, trauma, and post-traumatic stress experienced by police officers. Such training can help prepare officers to deal with stress they experience or that their peers experience, potentially improving their work and the public’s safety.

Harsher penalties for e-bullying

House Bill 3711 allows intimidation, stalking, cyberstalking, or transmission of obscene messages to be prosecuted as hate crimes and felonies. The law also creates a civil penalty of up to $1,000 for hate crimes.

Expulsion protection for preschoolers
House Bill 2663 requires that early childhood programs find services to help children resolve issues before expelling them from preschool. If a child is expelled, the law requires programs to create a plan for them to transition into another program or access other services.

Daycare database

House Bill 2388 requires the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to establish and maintain a searchable online database that provides information on daycares, including information about reports of child abuse, revoked licenses, and denied license renewals. DCFS is required to have the system up and running by July 1, 2018.

Right to Yelp

Senate Bill 1898 protects the rights of consumers to publicly review restaurants and other retailers, without fear of retaliation. The law has been touted as allowing people the “right to Yelp.”

Price gouging protection

Senate Bill 298 requires that, upon request, dry cleaners, barbers, and tailors provide customers with a standard price list, so customers can make better informed decisions.