Illinois Rings in 2013 with 153 New Laws

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According to an article from NBC Chicago , about 150 new laws will officially go into effect in Illinois starting Jan. 1. The laws follow approval from state lawmakers and Gov. Pat Quinn over the past year. The new laws include everything from specific bans and the diversion of funding to certain programs.

Here is a rundown of the some of the laws going into effect in the State of Illinois starting New Year's Day:

* Known as "Caylee's Law" following the infamous Caylee Anthony case, parents and legal guards of children 13 years old or younger could be charged with a felony is they fail to report their missing child within 40 hours, noted the Chicago Tribune .

* Judges in Illinois will have the option to give first-time, non-violent offenders a two-year diversion program, similar to probation, instead of jail time in order to free up space in the state prison systems and help find offenders jobs.

* Red Eye Chicago reported that starting on New Year's Day, ambulances will no longer have to pay tolls on Illinois' Tollway.

* Strip clubs will have to collect a $3 per person surcharge from customers in order to give a financial contribution to sexual assault crisis programs.

* Child sex offenders are banned from participating in holiday events involving children, like handing out Halloween candy and dressing as Santa Claus, unless under specific circumstances determined by law enforcement authorities.

* The sale, trade, and distribution of shark fins, usually purchased as a delicacy food item in Asian-American neighborhoods, will officially be banned, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch .

* In an effort to protect the privacy of employees in the state, employers will be prohibited from asking workers for their social network usernames and passwords.

* Passenger vehicle license plate fees will increase by $2 to $101 per year with the goal of raising $20 million for Illinois' state parks to operate and perform much-needed maintenance.

* Commercial vehicle drivers will be completely banned from texting and using a handheld phone while driving as a way to make the state's roads safer and prevent more distracted-driver accidents.

* Landlords in the state will now be able to email bills to tenants for damages done to rental properties.

* Police officers will receive special training on how to recognize and respond to issues regarding abuse and neglect of elderly individuals.

* It will be a crime for individuals to use a deceased person's handicapped parking placard or license plate.

* Overall, Illinois will bring in 153 new laws at the start of 2013. This is fewer than the more than 200 laws enacted on Jan. 1, 2012.

Rachel Bogart provides an in-depth look at current environmental issues and local Chicago news stories. Currently pursuing her master's degree in environmental science, she applies her knowledge and passion to both topics to garner further public awareness.

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