The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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December 31, 2012

New year brings new laws

CLINTON — As Illinois residents ring in the new year, more than 150 new laws will hit the state’s books.

These new laws run the gamut from cracking down on parents who permit underage drinking to employers’ rights to their employees’ social media accounts.  

Residents should also be aware of a number of other changes the state has made that restrict when a person can use a cell phone while driving in a construction zone, increase the fees for license plate stickers, impose fines on family members who help a family member evade the law, increase penalties for those who don’t report a missing child, and impose new restrictions on who can obtain a FOID card.  

On Tuesday, Illinois will become the second state to enact a law that makes it illegal for an employer to ask for a potential employee’s social media account information.  House Bill 3782 prohibits employers from asking for usernames, passwords or other related information that would give the employer access to such accounts.  

In addition to barring employers’ rights to get into your Facebook, the Illinois General Assembly also wants to stop parents from hosting drinking parties for those under the age of 21.  House Bill 1554 makes it a Class A misdemeanor with a fine of $500 for parents or guardians who knowingly allow underage drinking to occur at their residence or other property they own. If any great bodily harm or death occurs as a result of the underage drinking, it becomes a Class 4 Felony.  

Family members who aid and abet a fugitive relative will now be subject to criminal charges under Senate Bill 2520.  Husbands, wives, parents, children, brothers and sisters were previously exempt from the law. However, as of Jan. 1 family members over the age of 18 who shelter the offender will face arrest  for a Class 4 felony.  

The state is also putting more restrictions on the use of cell phones will driving in a construction zone. The use of cellphones will now be banned in all construction zones, not just those with reduced speed limits.  

Along with new laws, 2013 will also bring new fees to Illinois residents. A license plate renewal sticker will cost $101, up $2. The increase will go towards funding Illinois’ state parks. This fee, along with others, is expected to bring in $32 million annually to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

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