On the eve of midnight on New Year’s Eve, Illinoisans will see more than 300 new laws go into effect — and the changes will affect the state’s health care, public safety and employment.
The Paid Leave for All Employees Act requires most employers to provide their employees with at least 40 hours of paid leave per year. And minimum wages will rise from $13 to $14 an hour.
Illinois Legal Aid Online offers online support for some of the state’s most vulnerable residents. CEO Teri Ross said she understands many people want to know how the new laws will affect them.
“We’re taking legislation that’s often hard to read and somewhat opaque and translating it into plain language explanation,” Ross said, “and in some cases tools that people can use to assert and understand their rights.”
According to the new Telehealth Services Act, mental health and substance abuse patients in Illinois will continue to receive telehealth care.
And the patient’s medical treatment cannot be delayed when a hospital employee checks his payment method or insurance.
Ross said hospitals must also screen uninsured or underinsured patients for eligibility for public financial assistance before their bills are sent to collections.
Another new law on the books has raised concerns about immigrants applying for public safety jobs.
It allows a person who is not a citizen – but is legally authorized to work in the United States – to apply to become an Illinois police officer.
Ross said the low numbers in the police force were due to the retirement of veterans and a lack of new applicants – and argued that the police force as a whole needed to change.
“One of the problems we have in our society in general,” Ross said, “is that law enforcement is focused on communities of color, and it’s often not made up of people of color.”
Applicants who are not citizens and have a green card that allows them to live and work in the United States must be authorized by federal law to acquire, carry, purchase, or otherwise possess a firearm.
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