Week in Review | December 16-20, 2019; January 1 New Laws Edition, Part II

McHenry, IL — As people throughout Illinois prepare to ring in a new year, the Senate Republican Caucus is continuing to highlight new laws that will take effect as the clock strikes midnight on January 1. 

The new laws kicking off 2020 cover everything from protecting children under DCFS care to safeguarding individuals’ privacy and personal information.

Also, I visited Crosby Elementary School, met with a princess and toured the Easter Seals facility on Chicago’s southwest side. 

New DCFS requirements seek to better protect children
The Department of Children and Family Services spent much of 2019 under scrutiny following its mishandling of the abuse of five-year-old Andrew “AJ” Freund, who was later beaten to death by his parents. 

This horrific and heinous fatal abuse, along with other mishandled issues inside the Department, led the General Assembly to take a more in-depth look into the agency and pass several new requirements, all of which I supported, to better protect the children under DCFS care. 

Beginning January 1, DCFS will have to meet the following requirements:

  • House Bill 831/Public Act 101-0043: DCFS must notify the Department of Public Health and the Department of Healthcare and Family Services of all reports involving children alleged to have been abused or neglected while hospitalized.
  • House Bill 1551/Public Act 101-0237: DCFS must comply with several new guidelines when a child in its custody is returned to their parents or guardian.
  • Senate Bill 1743/Public Act 101-0166: DCFS must develop and conduct a standardized survey to gather feedback from children who are aging out or have transitioned out of the foster care system, and place a locked suggestion box in each group home and shelter.
  • Senate Bill 1239/Public Act 101-0583: DCFS must report alleged abuse or neglect of a child by a person who is not the child’s parent, a member of the child’s immediate family, a person responsible for the child’s welfare, an individual residing in the same home of the child or a paramour of the child’s parent to the appropriate local enforcement agency.
  • House Bill 3587/Public Act 101-0155: DCFS must establish and maintain a toll-free number to respond to requests from the public about its post-placement and post-adoption support services.

Baby changing stations required in all public buildings
Finding a location to change your little one’s diaper will be a lot easier for parents starting in 2020. House Bill 3711/PA 101-0293 requires all public buildings with restrooms open to the public to have at least one baby diaper changing station accessible to both men and women. Additionally, signs must be posted near the entrance indicating the location of the diaper changing station. 

New laws protect pets
Laws protecting pets are among those that will take effect January 1.

HB 3390/PA 101-0210 requires pet boarding facilities that do not have 24/7 staffing to be equipped with a fire sprinkler system or a fire alarm monitoring system that triggers notification to local emergency responders. This new law, which I supported, was in response to a fire at a West Chicago kennel that killed 29 dogs. 

Also, at the start of the new year, cat owners will be required to have their cats vaccinated for rabies. All cats four months or older, excluding feral cats, must receive a rabies vaccination and have a subsequent vaccination within a year of the first one occurring. 

New laws ensure privacy, protect personal information
In this age of high-tech convenience and vulnerability, protecting individuals’ personal information is the intent behind several new laws taking effect January 1, all of which I supported. 

House Bill 2189/PA 101-0132 prohibits direct-to-consumer commercial genetic testing companies from sharing any genetic test information or other personally identifiable information about a consumer with any health or life insurance company without written consent from the consumer. 

Under Senate Bill 1624/PA 101-0343, data breaches impacting more than 500 Illinois residents as a result of a single breach must be reported in the most expedient time possible to the Attorney General. 

House Bill 2408/PA 101-0385 prohibits a person from posting private compromising images of another person online. It also provides for a process for a person to obtain a “take-down” order to have the images removed. 

The full list of January 1 new laws
To see the entire list of new laws for 2020, go to my legislative website at SenatorWilcox.com. Click on the Legislation tab at the top of the page. 

After a break from politics during Christmas week, the final installment of January 1 New Laws will be released on Jan. 3. 

Local happenings
Crosby Elementary School
On Dec. 19 I visited Crosby Elementary to learn how the school is using the Evidence-based School Funding Formula, which was passed and signed into law in 2017.

I also had the pleasure to meet with and read to a group of our future citizens and leaders in the school library (pictured left).

A visit with a princess
On that same day, I also met with Princess Aaliyah Garza-Vela who attends Harvard High School (pictured right and below).

Miss Garza-Vela is a Miss Teen Illinois International. I met with her to discuss her pageant platform of “Support our Service Siblings.”

We talked about her ideas and offered support and assistance with contacting various military support organizations. Her brother is serving our country as a U.S. Marine. 

Easter Seals
On Dec. 17 I toured the Easter Seals Health and Medical facilities on Chicago’s southwest side. They do tremendous work with children with disabilities and their families, and offer health services for very young children with early intervention programs to at-risk teens.

Easter Seals serves more than 1.4 million people each year. There are three Easter Seals locations in the suburban Chicago area. 

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