A new year brings new laws – good, bad and ugly – in Illinois. There’s a lot of them, but here are three in particular that stand out.
The Good: Speed limit raised to 70 mph
One piece of good news is that the state speed limit has been raised to a maximum of 70 mph outside of urban areas, generally on interstate highways, bringing Illinois closer in line with other states across the country. Unfortunately, the law excludes Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, Madison, McHenry, St. Clair and Will counties from the new maximum by reserving them the right to set lower speeds, which may mean that the impact of the change isn’t as far reaching as some might hope. Still, even a marginal increase in personal freedom should be applauded in a state that so often reduces freedom.
The Bad: Cigarette butt-flicking made a felony
On Jan. 1, an update to Illinois’ Litter Control Act will subject anyone who tosses a cigarette on the ground to increased penalties – the first offense now comes with a Class B misdemeanor and a fine up to $1,500.The second time offense becomes a Class A misdemeanor, and the third time, it’s a felony that can come with a one-to-three year jail sentence and a $25,000 fine.
But if that’s not enough, the Act forces private property owners to furnish trash receptacles in places where littering is illegal. After a warning, the property owner must provide the trash cans within 10 days or face a daily fine of $25 and a petty misdemeanor.
The Ugly: Teens banned from tanning, even with parent’s permission
Another outrageous law going into effect in 2014 prohibits people younger than 18 from using tanning beds at salons – even with a parent or guardian’s permission. Supporters of the law cited the potential risk of developing skin cancer later in a life as their justification. Good intentions aside, however, what these proponents fail to recognize is that life naturally involves trade-offs between risks and health. Individuals – including minors, in consultation with their parents – are best positioned to decide what’s best for themselves. At the very least, individuals are better positioned than politicians in Springfield, who do not have a strong record of responsible adult behavior.
image credit: David Spencer/The State Journal-Register