New Year, New Laws

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You’ve probably heard a lot about the massive federal tax overhaul Congress pushed through before the end of the year, but there are also some changes coming closer to home. More than 200 new Illinois laws are in effect now with the New Year as well as some new local Naperville ordinances.

One law we’ve been tracking allows Illinois 16 and 17-year-olds to sign up to be organ and tissue donors when they receive a driver’s license.

Governor Bruce Rauner signed the Drive for Life Act into law in august, with Matt and Jill Zuleg present.

After a falling tree limb fatally struck the Zulegs’ 16-year-old son Kyle in 2010, the couple made the difficult decision to donate his organs.

“Kyle was wearing his donate life bracelet a lot, and we had gone camping that weekend and he had left it on his desk, and when we got home from hospital it was sitting there,” said Jill. “And I just knew we had made the right decision and if he would have had the chance, he would have been one of those 16-year-olds that signed up to be an organ donor.”

Illinois lawmakers are also cracking down on hate crimes. Under one new law, crimes committed at churches, mosques, synagogues, and other places of worship can now be tried as hate crimes.

“We have not had any of those issues recently in our area,” said Commander Cammiso of the Naperville Police Department. “I think it’s more nationally what’s been going on, and some of these attacks at those places is probably what spurned the law to be beefed up.”

Another new law allows that stalking, cyberstalking, and sending obscene messages can now be considered hate crimes.

“I think it makes for stronger consequences and additional, and I think it depends on the situation because many of these charges we have to get approved through our state’s attorney’s office. If they feel it qualifies, they’ll charge the most severe charge they can,” Cammiso said.

And now in Illinois, pet owners can create custody plans for their pets as part of divorce agreements.

And there were also some new designations this year: cycling is the state’s official exercise; corn is now the state grain; and Illinois will now recognize August 4 as Barack Obama Day.

Naperville News 17’s Beth Bria reports.