CHICAGO (CBS) — Recreational use of marijuana will be legal for anyone 21 or older in Illinois; the minimum wage will go up across the state; taxes will go up on parking, restaurants, vehicle trade-ins, and more; and drivers will face stiffer penalties for passing stopped school buses or for failing to move over for emergency vehicles.
Those are just some of the new state and local laws going into effect in the new year.
Starting Jan. 1, anyone over the age of 21 can buy and use recreational marijuana. That doesn’t mean they can carry it or light up anywhere they want, though.
How much can you carry?
Thirty grams of pot in leaf form is the maximum; that’s typically enough for 30 to 50 joints. If consuming cannabis concentrate – think oil cartridges and medicated muscle creams – then five grams is the cap. If it’s edibles, like brownies or gummies, then 500 milligrams is the most you can have.
Where can I buy?
Existing medical marijuana dispensaries will be able to start selling adult-use cannabis on Jan. 1, and can open a second recreational marijuana location as well. The application process for other recreational marijuana dispensaries is underway, but licenses won’t go out until May.
The state’s marijuana law gives local governments power over deciding exactly where pot businesses can set up shop. In Chicago, the mayor and City Council have prohibited marijuana sales in most of the downtown area, and divided the rest of the city into seven zones, with a maximum number of stores selling recreational marijuana in each.
Chicago’s marijuana zoning rules also require anyone seeking to operate a marijuana business in areas of the city typically reserved for storefronts to obtain a city permit and a zoning change, which would require City Council approval and give aldermen more oversight of recreational pot shops.
Where can you smoke?
It will still be illegal to light up in public, or inside any vehicle.
You can smoke at home if you own your home. If you rent, you need your landlord’s permission.
If you live in public housing, such as the Chicago Housing Authority, it will still be illegal to smoke or possess weed, because federal law still prohibits marijuana use or possession in federally subsidized housing.
Licensed marijuana dispensaries and tobacco businesses may allow customers to smoke on premises, depending on local rules. The city of Chicago hasn’t passed any such rules, yet, although the mayor has proposed an ordinance the City Council could consider as early as Jan. 15.
While it will still be illegal to light up marijuana in public or in a vehicle, the city of Chicago is reducing the penalties for illegal pot possession. The penalty for a first-time offense would go from $250 to $50, and the fine for subsequent violations would go from $500 to $100. Chicago police no longer will impound a person’s car if there is a small amount of marijuana inside, but police could still seize vehicles if they’re being used to illegally buy or sell marijuana.
How much will I be taxed?
It depends on the amount of THC, the chemical responsible for most of marijuana’s psychological effects. In flower form, there will be a 10% tax. Edibles are taxed 20% but jumps to 25% if the THC levels are above 35%.
In most states that have legalized recreational weed, it’s typically 30-50% more expensive than illegal weed.
What about old pot convictions?
Hundreds of marijuana convictions will be expunged under the recreational marijuana law. How and when that will happen isn’t as simple as it sounds, however.
Earlier this month, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx launched her office’s effort to eventually clear tens of thousands of minor pot convictions from court records. Her office filed the first 1,000 petitions to expunge those convictions.
Prosecutors will automate the expungement process for the lowest-level marijuana convictions, but people convicted of more serious cases will have to individually petition to have their cases cleared.
Cases of marijuana possession of less than 30 grams qualify for automatic expungement as long as they are not associated with violent crimes. But doing so will require police and prosecutors to review databases for eligible cases, which will take time. An “automatic” expungement doesn’t have to be approved until January 2021 if it dates as far back as 2013.
The minimum wage for the entire state of Illinois will go up for the first time since 2010, as part of a law gradually increasing the rate to $15 an hour by 2025.
Starting Jan. 1, the Illinois minimum wage will go up from $8.25 to $9.25 an hour. On July 1, it will go up again, to $10 an hour. Increases of $1 an hour will continue every Jan. 1 after that through 2025.
Chicago’s minimum wage, which is already at $13 an hour, will go up to $14 an hour on July 1. The city’s minimum wage will reach $15 an hour on July 1, 2021, under an ordinance the mayor and City Council approved in November.
Ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft will face a new congestion tax, aimed at reducing traffic downtown, and generating $40 million in new revenue for the city.
The ordinance approved by the mayor and the City Council in November would more than quadruple the tax on solo rides to and from downtown, from 72 cents to $3 per trip; nearly double the tax for shared rides to and from downtown, and for solo rides in the neighborhoods, from 72 cents to $1.25 per trip.
However, if you’re taking a shared ride in the neighborhoods, the rideshare tax will go down, from 72 cents to 65 cents per trip.
Diners at Chicago restaurants will face a 0.25% increase in the tax they pay on their food and drinks (or 25 cents per $100). The restaurant tax hike is just a small portion of the taxes charged on restaurant bills in Chicago. The city’s sales tax rate is 10.25%, and downtown restaurants also are required to charge an extra 1% food and beverage tax to fund the agency that oversees McCormick Place and Navy Pier.
The restaurant tax hike is expected to generate $20 million a year in new revenue for the city.
The cost of parking at metered spots downtown and in the Central Business District will go up by 50 cents an hour starting Jan. 1.
The mayor is proposing a 50-cent increase in the rates for metered street parking downtown and in the Central Business District. The cost of parking at a meter downtown (an area bounded by Lake Michigan on the east, the Chicago River on the north and west, and Ida B. Wells Drive on the south) will rise from $6.50 to $7 per hour. In the rest of the Central Business District (North Avenue to Roosevelt Road and Halsted to the lake) rates would rise from $4 to $4.50 per hour.
The city also would install add an unspecified number of metered parking spaces in the West Loop, from Halsted to Ashland and Van Buren to Grand, mainly on blocks with retail businesses. The rates at those meters would be the same as the Central Business District, costing $4.50 per hour.
Parking Tax For Garages And Lots
Starting Jan. 1, the state will charge a 6% tax on parking in daily and hourly garages and lots, and a 9% tax on parking in monthly and annual garages and lots. The new tax will help fund the state’s $45 billion infrastructure construction plan.
Vehicle Registration Fees
Illinois license plate stickers also will be more expensive in 2020. Starting Jan. 1, the state’s passenger vehicle registration fee will go up next year from $101 to $151. The higher fees also are part of the state’s infrastructure construction plan.
Vehicle Trade-In Tax
Trading in your old car when you buy a new one also could cost you a lot more starting next year. Starting Jan. 1, the state of Illinois will collect sales tax on the trade-in value of cars worth more than $10,000.
Currently, the state doesn’t collect any sales tax on trade-in values. Buyers currently get a tax credit for their old car’s value, and are only taxed on the differences in value between their trade-in and the new car.
If you trade in a car worth $20,000 and buy an SUV worth $35,000, in Chicago the sales tax currently would come to $1,425.
Starting Jan. 1, that sales tax would jump to $2,312.50, an increase of nearly $900.
It’s yet another funding source for the state’s capital plan.
Expressway Surveillance Cameras
Expressways in Cook County will get more surveillance cameras, and for the first time those cameras will be equipped to record footage, not simply live stream video. This summer, lawmakers approved spending for traffic cameras that can record. in response to the murder of Tamara Clayton, a postal worker who was shot and killed on Interstate 57 in January. Her killer has not been caught.
However, with only days until the new year, there is little to no evidence that Illinois State Police or the Illinois Department of Transportation have begun upgrading the existing cameras.
Illinois State Police have said repeatedly that surveillance cameras recording on the expressways will help them solve cases. But it looks like we will start 2020 with that tool still missing from the toolbox.
Tougher Penalties For Scott’s Law, Construction Zone And School Bus Violations
Drivers who violate Scott’s Law – which requires reducing speed or changing lanes when emergency vehicles are stopped on the road – will face steeper fines. The fine for a first offense will rise to a minimum of $250 from $100, while the second offense will be at least $750. The maximum fine will remain $10,000.
Separately, the fine will increase from $10,000 to $25,000 for failing to reduce speed and change lanes when possible upon approaching a construction zone.
Drivers can be charged with a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail, if the violation results in damage to another vehicle; and a felony punishable by up to 3 years in prison if a person is hurt or killed.
The fine for passing a school bus that has stopped and has its stop arm displayed will increase from $150 to $300 for the first offense, and from $500 to $1,000 for subsequent offenses.
Streaming Video While Driving
In addition to current bans on using cellphones while driving, this new law will forbid drivers from watching streaming videos while behind the wheel.
Unionization For Graduate Students:
Under an amendment to the Illinois Labor Relations Act, graduate students who work as research assistants, teaching assistants, or parprofessionals in other ways will be classified as “educational employees” rather than “students.” The change will allow graduate students to join a union and participate in collective bargaining.
Protections For Employees Who Receive Tips
A new law states that gratuities are the property of employees, and employers are forbidden from taking them. The law requires tips to be paid to employees within 13 days after the end of the pay period where they were earned. The Illinois Department of Labor can take the issue to court if employers do not comply.
Use Of Arrest Records
Employers will be prohibited from inquiring into or using a record as the basis for an employment decision. Arrest records also cannot be used as the basis for refusing to take part in a real estate transaction.
Baby Changing Stations in Public Buildings
All buildings with public restrooms will be required to have at least one baby diaper changing station in a women’s room, and at least one in a men’s room – as well as at least one diaper changing station that is accessible to both men and women.
Single-room occupancy restrooms in public buildings will only be identified with a sign saying they are restrooms – and will no longer be designated for a specific gender. This does not apply to multi-person restrooms.
Gender Designations On State-Issued IDs
The state will allow for non-binary gender designations on future driver’s licenses and identification cards.
Statute Of Limitations For Sex Offenses
There will no longer be a statute of limitations for prosecuting criminal sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual assault, or aggravated criminal sexual abuse – regardless of how old the victim is. The statute of limitations will also be removed for female genital mutilation when the victim is under 18.
Civil Remedies For Revenge Porn
The Civil Remedies for Nonconsensual Dissemination of Private Sexual Images Act allows victims to sue and recover damages when someone disseminates, or threatens to disseminate, their private sexual images without consent.
Medical Marijuana Administration In Schools
All schools – public, private, and charter – will be required to allow a nurse or administrator to administer medical marijuana on school premises to students who have been prescribed it. Written authorization from a parent or guardian must be issued and renewed for students to receive medical marijuana. The product must be stored with school nurses at all times, and only accessible to themselves or administrators – who all must be trained in administering medical cannabis.
Voting In Jail
The state will provide voting opportunities for people held in Illinois jails – where criminal defendants are typically held before conviction or acquittal. In Cook County, a temporary branch polling place will be set up in the jail. Elsewhere in the state, election authorities will be required to facilitate inmates to vote by mail. Only residents of the county who are being held at the jail, and who have not been convicted of the offense for which they are being held, will be eligible to vote.
Sex education classes in Illinois must include an age-appropriate discussion on the meaning of consent – with a list of what must be addressed. The state is also cleaning up a requirement to teach about unlawful sexual activity that only addressed males having sex with females under 18 to whom they aren’t married.
Separately, the state is issuing new requirements that those in facilities for people with developmental disabilities have access to sex education that supports his or her right to sexual health and healthy sexual practices – and freedom from sexual exploitation and abuse. Each individual must be assessed on whether they have the decision-making capacity to consent to sexual activity.
Preventive STD Access For Minors
The state will allow health care providers to prescribe preventative, or prophylactic, treatments such as PrEP medication for HIV prevention to minors 12 and over without parental consent. Previously, parental consent could only be waived if the minor were seeking health care services or counseling related to the diagnosis or treatment of an STI or a substance use disorder.
Home Energy Affordability And Transparency Act
This new law, touted by the Illinois Attorney General’s office, will protect consumers from retail electric and gas suppliers that claim to offer cheaper energy rates than traditional companies – but come at a high cost for consumers. The act will also allow the Attorney General’s office stronger tools to penalize suppliers who commit fraud and to return money to consumer who are defrauded.
Worker Protection Unit And Task Force
A new law will establish a Worker Protection Unit within the Attorney General’s office, which will have the authority to enforce existing laws and protect workers’ rights. It is intended to help remedy wage theft and unfair labor practices, according to the Attorney General’s office.