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New year will bring a higher minimum wage, legalization of marijuana

SPRINGFIELD – The state’s minimum wage will increase by $1 hourly, recreational marijuana will go on sale to those older than 21, and some state taxes and licensing fees will increase when the calendar hits January.

The changes are among hundreds resulting from laws enacted during a busy legislative session that adjourned in June.

Minimum wage: The minimum wage will increase by $1 to $9.25 hourly Wednesday, the first such increase since 2010. The wage will increase to $10 hourly in July before increasing $1 each January until it hits $15 by 2025.

Marijuana legalization: With the legalization of adult-use marijuana in the state, Illinois residents will be allowed to possess 30 grams of cannabis flower, 500 milligrams of a marijuana-infused product and 5 grams of cannabis concentrate. Nonresidents can possess half those amounts.

Consumption of marijuana still will be banned in public places, however, unless a licensed marijuana facility or certain lounges obtain local government clearance for allowing use at their businesses.

Marijuana legalization also will provide for the expungement of low-level marijuana convictions and criminal records in the state, the first of which were filed in Chicago this month.

New taxes, fees for capital plan: Some new taxes and fees that will help fund a multiyear $45 billion capital infrastructure plan also will take effect starting in January.

Registration fees for passenger vehicles will increase to $151 from $101, while electric vehicle registration fees will increase to $251 annually from $34 every other year.

The licensing fee for a trailer weighing less than 3,000 pounds will increase to $118 from $18, with every weight class greater than that also seeing a $100 increase.

A new tax on parking garages also will take effect next month, with a 6% rate applied to hourly and daily garages and a 9% rate applied to monthly slots.

The state also will begin taxing the value of traded-in vehicles starting after $10,000 in value, down from $20,000.

Other new laws

• The maximum fine for striking a construction worker with a vehicle will increase to $25,000 from $10,000.

• Those violating “Scott’s Law” by failing to reduce speed or change lanes when an emergency vehicle is stopped on the side of the road will see increased fines in the new year as well. The minimum fine for a first offense will increase to $250 from $100, while the minimum for a second offense will be $750.

Money collected from such violations will go to a Scott’s Law Fund to produce driver education materials. The maximum fine will remain at $10,000. The law also increases the severity of violations that result in the death or harm to a first responder to a Class 2 felony.

• Passing a stopped school bus that has its “STOP” arm extended will now result in a $300 fine, up from $150 for the first offense. The second offense will cost drivers $1,000, up from $500.

• Public locations must convert single-occupancy restrooms into all-gender restrooms and designate them for use by no more than one person at a time, or for families or assisted use. Public locations must change exterior signage as well.

• Public buildings will be required to have baby changing facilities in any of their public restrooms.

• The burial benefit for a firefighter, state police or local law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty will increase to $20,000 from $10,000.

• The Illinois secretary of state will be required to allow applicants to choose between “male,” “female” or “nonbinary” when designating the applicant’s sex on their driver’s license or ID card.

• Any report received by the Department of Children and Family Services alleging the abuse or neglect of a child by a person who is not the child’s parent or immediate family must immediately be referred to the appropriate local enforcement agency and state’s attorney for consideration of criminal investigation or other action.

• Diesel trucks will be prohibited from idling for more than 10 minutes within one hour if the vehicle is within 200 feet of a residential area.

• Graduate assistants will no longer be classified as “students,” but rather as “employees,” which grants them the right to collectively bargain.

• Insurers in the state will be required to cover the costs of medically necessary epinephrine injectors, commonly referred to by the brand name EpiPen, for persons younger than 18 years old.

• Hospitals must post information on how to enroll in health insurance through the Illinois health insurance marketplace.

The Illinois Senate Democratic and Republican caucuses have each compiled lists of new laws available at their respective websites, illinoissenatedemocrats.com and senategop.state.il.us.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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