Illinois lawmakers have passed more than 400 bills in recent months, many of which crossed the legislative finish line in the past week.
Some 408 changes could be headed to Illinois, should Gov. JB Pritzker sign them into law — a likelihood because he’s a Democrat, and no legislation can pass without the support of Democrats who control the General Assembly.
Beyond public safety measures and the state spending plan (lawmakers passed a budget not just on time, but early), here are eight that stand out:
The Crown Act (SB3616): Last year, Illinois passed a law prohibiting schools from discriminating against students for having natural or protective hairstyles. The Creating a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair Act is an extension of this and prohibits discrimination in the workplace for race, including braids, locs, twists and afros.
State Rep. Jehan Gordon Booth says black people lost jobs and opportunities for advancement because their hair or style didn’t conform to Eurocentric standards.
“It’s not just about banning evil, but it’s a statement that frankly needs to be made and that statement is that black women and the way they wear their hair is more than enough. For too long, many women who have worn natural hair or protective hairstyles have been told their hair is unprofessional or unruly,” Gordon Booth said during the indoor debate. “And there are women across this state and across this country who have unfortunately had to endure very severe pain very specific to their hair. They’ve lost job opportunities, they’ve lost opportunities for advancement in their respective workspaces because their hair hasn’t grown out of their heads in a way that conforms to more Eurocentric standards.
eat your vegetables (HB4089): If schools offer a lunch program, they should offer one that satisfies vegetarian students, providing a plant-based option for those who request it in advance.
No plastic in parks (SB1915): State parks are meant to be places of Illinois’ natural beauty. Plastic forks or polystyrene plates have no place in parks, according to the will of lawmakers. State suppliers providing food for state parks and natural areas will have to remove single-use, disposable plastic items and instead offer choices made from compostable or renewable materials, such as bamboo.
Sales Verification (HB2910): There is a lot of talk about transparency in government; not so much about transparency at the grocery store. Lawmakers want it easy for thrifty shoppers to know they’re actually getting a deal as promised by ads and discount coupons. At checkout, grocers will need to display both the original price and the sale price to shoppers.
Prevention of miscommunications with the police (HB4825): Illinois lawmakers want to establish a way for police to know that someone they arrest or interact with has autism or another communication disorder. The idea came from a DuPage County teenager worried about what would happen if his autistic twin was pulled over during a routine traffic stop. Under the new system, people with autism or other communication disabilities could voluntarily register with the state; the police would see this information when they run the plate. Sponsoring state Senator Julie Morrison, D-Deerfield, said it would make things easier for the driver and the officer.
Suburban Outsourcing Test Fail (SB1234): Chicagoans may recall with annoyance that in 2016, Illinois shut down all of the city’s vehicle emissions testing centers. City lawmakers say that’s more than an inconvenience; some people who can’t afford it may have to take time off work to commute to the suburbs and wait in line to have their car tested. State Sen. Rob Martwick, D-Chicago, took video when he got his emissions test and said he was stunned by the long line of cars. He and Sen. Sara Feighenholtz, D-Chicago, were among those quite irritated they worked to pass a bill that will prompt the state’s Environmental Protection Agency to reinstate testing sites. in Chicago.
Two birds/one stone, two eyes/one blow (HB4929): When the COVID-19 vaccines first came out, there was a mad rush to get them. Public health officials encourage anyone who has not received the vaccine or booster to do so as soon as possible. The General Assembly voted to expand the pool of professionals who can do this. Who else could be up to the task? They ogled… the optometrists. At least, those who are in training. Ophthalmologists will only be able to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to people 17 years of age or older.
rock on (HB4261): Illinois has a state snack (popcorn), a bird (the northern cardinal), a pie (the pumpkin), and an animal (the white-tailed deer). But until some students urged their lawmakers to act on it, Illinois had no official rock. Pending Pritzker’s approval, Illinois will officially make this rock solid, establishing Dolostone as the state rock. “Dolostone is a sedimentary rock that underlies nearly all of Illinois except for the northernmost part of the state. It helps enrich the soil throughout the state by providing valuable nutrients for growth plants and caused a major mineral rush in Galena, Illinois in the early 1800s,” according to a press release from Illinois Senate Democrats.
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