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New Laws Effective 1/1/2016

Jan 12, 2016

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New Laws Effective January 1, 2016 Affecting Labor and Employment

Certifications and Prerequisites to Employment

Public Act 99-0267 – Amends the Community Expanded Mental Health Services Act.  Requires that in order to be employed by a child care facility that cares for children ages 6 and under, an individual must show proof that they have received the “Tdap” (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) vaccine and two doses of the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine.  

Public Act 99-0035 – Amends the Educational Licensure Article of the School Code.   Provides that individuals who were issued the career and technical education endorsement on an Educator License with Stipulations after January 1, 2015 can renew their endorsement by passing a basic skills test.  Individuals who were issued the career and technical education endorsement on an Educator License with Stipulations prior to January 1, 2015 are exempt from the basic skills test.  

Public Act 99-0021 – Amends the School Code.  Requires that all student teachers undergo a fingerprint-based criminal history records check prior to commencing any student teaching experience. 

Wages and Hours

Public Act 99-0017 – Amends the Minimum Wage Law.  Overtime compensation provisions of Minimum Wage Law which require employees be paid at a rate of “time and a half” are no longer applicable to employees who are members of a bargaining unit recognized by the Illinois Labor Relations Board and whose union has contractually agreed to an alternate shift schedule as provided for in Section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act.  

Public Act 99-0418 – Amends the Equal Pay Act.  Equal Pay Act is now applicable to all employers, instead of employers with 3 or more employees.  The Act also increases the maximum civil penalty for all violations of the Act or a Rule from $2,500 to $5,000.  

2016 Federal Omnibus Spending Bill – Amends the Affordable Care Act.  The implementation of the 40% excise tax on employers who offer high-cost group health coverage, more commonly known as the “Cadillac Tax,” is delayed two years, and will now take effect in 2020. 

Records and Open Meetings Act

Public Act 99-0147 – Amends the State Records Act.  Amends the definition of “record” and “records” to include “born-digital electronic material” and “electronic material with a combination of digitized and born-digital material.”  “Born-digital electronic material” means electronic material created in digital form rather than converted from print or analog for to digital form.  “Digitized electronic material” means electronic material converted from print or analog form to digital form. 

Public Act 99-0363 – Amends the State Records Act and Local Records Act.  Provides that once it is determined that an arrest was made as a result of mistaken identity and no charges are brought against the arrested individual, the law enforcement agency shall destroy the arrest records of the person arrested on the basis of mistaken identity within 180 days.  

Public Act 99-0235 – Amends the Open Meetings Act.  Allows for a school board to hold a closed session meeting to discuss “building safety and security.”  

Public Act 99-0402 – Amends the Open Meetings Act.  Allows an individual who believes that a public body has violated the Open Meetings Act, to file a request for review within 60 days of the discovery of the alleged violation, so long as the facts concerning the violation are discovered within two years of the alleged violation.    This Act became effective on August 19, 2015.

Transportation

Public Act 99-0148 – Amends the Illinois Vehicle Code.  Holds a private school bus employer to a standard of ordinary care for intentional acts committed by the driver during the course of their employment. 

School Boards

Public Act 99-0091 – Amends the School Code.  Increases the number of voters required to approve a referendum allowing community unit school districts, combined school districts, and community consolidated school districts to elect board members at large from a majority of voters to two-thirds of all voters.  

Higher Education

Public Act 99-0482 – Amends the Public Community College Act.  Limits the initial term of an employment contract (aside from collective bargaining agreements) to three years.  Limits the severance under an employment contract to one year’s salary and applicable benefits.  Limits any extension of the employment contract to one year.  In total, an employment contract with a determinate start and end date may not exceed four years.  Requires public notice for any employment contract (aside from collective bargaining agreements) entered into, amended, renewed, or extended and the notice must include a complete description of the action to be taken as well as a copy of the employment contract.  This Act took effect September 22, 2015.  

New K-12 and Higher Education Laws Effective January 1, 2016

Affecting Students

K-12Public Act 99-0028 – Amends the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Confidentiality Act at Sections 2 and 3 to protect from disclosure all records and communications made or created in the course of providing mental health or developmental disabilities services regardless of whether the records and communications are made or created in the course of a therapeutic relationship. The amendments further define “therapeutic relationship” to mean the receipt of mental health or developmental disabilities services from a therapist and “record” to not include a reference to the receipt of mental health or developmental disabilities services noted during a patient history and physical or other summary of care. 

Public Act 99-0084 -Amends the School Code with regard to student performance and school improvement standards by changing Section 2-3.25a to prohibit ISBE from having separate student performance and school improvement standards based on race or ethnicity. 

Public Act 99-0144 – Amends the School Code by adding Section 2-3.163 to address training and notice provisions regarding the Prioritization of Urgency of Need for Services (PUNS) Department of Human Services’ statewide database, that records and maintains information about individuals with developmental disabilities who are potentially in need of services.  The amendment requires that, subject to appropriation, ISBE develop and implement an online, computer-based training program for completion by at least one designated employee in every public school in the State.  Furthermore, each public school must ensure the opportunity to enroll in the database is discussed during annual IEP meetings for all children and adolescents believed to have a developmental disability. 

Public Act 99-0349 – Amends the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act at Sections 7.8 and 7.14 to provide that prior reports of abuse or neglect classified as unfounded are now admissible in certain proceedings under Article II of the Juvenile Court Act of 1987, if the prior allegations of abuse or neglect relate to the same child, a sibling of the child, or the same perpetrator. The parties to such a proceeding are entitled to receive copies of the previously unfounded reports. 

Public Act 99-0411 – Enacts the Youth Mental Health Protection Act which prohibits mental health professionals, including school psychologists and social workers, from engaging in “conversion therapy” with any person under the age of 18. “Conversion therapy” includes any practices or treatments that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation, including efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings towards individuals of the same sex. “Conversation therapy” does not include counseling or mental health services that provide acceptance, support, and understanding of a person without seeking to change sexual orientation, including sexual orientation neutral interventions to prevent or address unlawful conduct or unsafe sexual practices, without seeking to change sexual orientation. Individuals who engage in conversation therapy in violation of the Act may be subject to discipline by the professional’s licensing entity or disciplinary review board with competent jurisdiction. Furthermore, it is a violation of the Consumer Fraud and deceptive Practices Act for a person or entity toy employ any deception in advertising or offering conversation therapy in a manner that represents homosexuality as a mental disease with the intent that others rely upon this misrepresentation. 

Public Act 99-0434 – Amends the School Code at Section 27-22 with regard to the high school social studies curriculum requirement.  As part of the two years of social studies required to receive a high school diploma, students must also spend at least one semester taking a civics course, focusing on government institutions, the discussion of current and controversial issues, service learning, and the simulation of the democratic process. School districts may use private funding in order to offer this course.

Higher Education

Public Act 99-0199– Amends the Higher Education Student Assistance Act by adding Section 62 which requires the Illinois Student Assistance Commission to receive and consider applications for grant assistance from “exonerated persons.”  “Exonerated person” means an individual who has received a pardon from the Governor of the State of Illinois stating that such a pardon is issued on the grounds of innocence of the crime for which he or she was imprisoned or an individual who has received a certificate of innocence from a circuit court pursuant to Section 2-702 of the Code of Civil Procedure. Provided that the recipient is maintaining satisfactory academic progress, the funds from the grant may be used to pay up to 8 semesters or 12 quarters of full payment of tuition and mandatory fees at any public university or public community college located in this State for either full or part-time study. This benefit may be used for undergraduate or graduate study. In addition, an exonerated person who has not yet received a high school diploma or a high school equivalency certificate and completes a high school equivalency preparation course through an Illinois Community College Board-approved provider may use grant funds to pay costs associated with obtaining a high school equivalency certificate, including payment of the cost of the high school equivalency test and up to one retest on each test module, and any additional fees that may be required in order to obtain an Illinois High School Equivalency Certificate or an official transcript of test scores after successful completion of the high school equivalency test.

Public Act 99-0278 – Creates the Student Optional Disclosure of Private Mental Health Act. Provides that all institutions of higher learning shall, at or near the time that an incoming student enrolls at the institution of higher learning, provide that student the opportunity to pre-authorize in writing the disclosure of certain private mental health information to a designated person. Provides that all institutions of higher learning shall prepare a form for the purpose of such pre-authorization.  The Act further provides that an institution of higher learning may disclose a student’s mental health information to the individual identified in the pre-authorized release if the institution’s  physician, clinical psychologist, or qualified examiner makes a determination that the student poses a clear danger to himself, herself, or others to protect the student or other person against a clear, imminent risk of serious physical or mental injury or disease or death being inflicted upon the person or by the student on himself, herself, or another. Provides that all institutions of higher learning shall create a policy and supporting procedures to ensure that every new student is given the opportunity to complete and submit the authorization form if he or she so desires. 

Public Act 99-0359 – Amends the Higher Education Student Assistance Act by adding Section 65.90 whichrequires the Illinois Student Assistance Commission to receive and consider applications for grant assistance from persons enrolled or accepted for enrollment in a medical assistant program at a public community college which leads to certification to work as a medical assistant. Provides that no grant recipient may receive more than $5,000 in a single academic year. Allows up to 2% of the appropriation for the grant program to be used by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission for the costs of administering the grant program. Provides for the award of medical assistant grants through the 2020-2021 academic year. Requires an applicant to be a resident of Illinois.  

Public Act 99-0468 – Creates the Career and Workforce Transition Act which requires a public community college district to accept up to 30 credit hours transferred from a non-degree granting institution (regulated and approved by the Board of Higher Education under the Private Business and Vocational Schools Act of 2012 and nationally accredited by an accreditor approved by the U.S. Department of Education as an institution from which credits may be transferred) if a student has completed a medical assisting program, a medical coding program, a dental assisting program, a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning program, a welding program, or a pharmacy technician program. Provides that the program must, at a minimum, be a 9-month program and use a credit-hour system.

New Laws Effective January 1, 2016 Affecting Local Government

Local Government

HB0169 / Public Act 099-0363 – Amends the State Records Act to require that upon the request from a chief of police, county sheriff, or State’s Attorney, a law enforcement agency shall delete or retract the arrest records of a person who an investigation reveals that the person arrested was not in fact the individual the arresting officer believed him or her to be.  

HB1498 / Public Act 099-0235 – Amends the Open Meetings Act to clarify that public bodies may hold closed meeting to consider school building safety and security. Prior to the amendment, the Open Meetings Act allowed closed meetings to consider security procedures and the use of personnel and equipment to respond to potential danger, but did not specify that closed meetings could discuss school building safety and security. 

SB0373 / Public Act 099-0487 – Amends the Township Code, the Municipal Code, and the Fire Protection District Act to require that any individuals or entities selling and purchasing a private water system or a semi-private water system must provide notice to the township, municipality, and/or fire protection district of the sale or purchase of the water system, including the status, capacity, and ability of the water system to be used for fire protection. Also requires the owner of the a private or semi-private water system to notify the township, municipality, and/or fire protection district of any changes to the water system that would affect fire protection services to the areas served by the water system. (**Effective November 20, 2015**). 

SB1547 / Public Act 099-0441 – Amends the Counties Code and the Municipal Code to prohibit a county or municipality from enacting or enforcing an ordinance or regulation that penalizes tenants or landlords based on: (1) contact made to the police concerning domestic or sexual violence, (2) an incident of actual or threatened domestic or sexual violence against a tenant, household member, or guest occurring in the dwelling or on the premises, or (3) criminal activity or a local ordinance violation occurring in the dwelling or on the premises directly related to domestic or sexual violence engaged in by a tenant, member of a tenant’s household, guest or other party and against a tenant, household member, guest, or other party.  (**Effective November 19, 2015**).

Property Tax 

SB0792 / Public Act 099-0367 – Amends the Property Tax Code to state that if a taxing district has a website maintained by the full-time staff of the taxing district, then the taxing district’s notice required by Truth in Taxation shall be posted on the taxing district’s website. The failure of the taxing district to post the notice on its website shall not invalidate the notice or any action taken on a tax levy. 

HB2554/ Public Act 099-0098 – Amends the Property Tax Code to require that any taxing district wishing to intervene in an appeal shall file a request to intervene and any evidence supporting the intervenor’s opinion with the board of review at least five days in advance of a scheduled hearing. Also requires that if a board of review allows complaints and correspondence to be transmitted electronically, then the intervenor’s evidence shall be transmitted electronically. The Act also amends the Property Tax Code so that complaints and other correspondence sent by U.S. Mail or other delivery service shall be considered filed on the date that the mailing is post marked or as indicated on the shipper’s tracking label. If permitted by board of review rule, complaints and other correspondence filed electronically shall be considered filed as of the date received by the board of review. 

School Board Organization and Elections 

SB0082 / Public Act 099-0091 – Amends the School Code to permit a congressional township comprising the territory of a school district to pass, by a 2/3 vote of all voters voting on the proposition, a proposition to elect board members at large and without restriction by area of residence within the district. 

SB0224 / Public Act 099-0475 – Amends the School Code to require that when a petition has been submitted to a regional board of school trustees concerning a proposed boundary change, the regional board of school trustees shall hear evidence as to the effect detachment will have on the school needs and conditions of the territory in the area within and adjacent thereto. The amendment further specifies what the regional board of school trustees may consider prior to granting the petition. The Act also added language to the School Code stating that an annexing school district shall not assume or be liable for any of the bonded indebtedness of the district from which the territory is detached, except pursuant to the approval of a resolution by the annexing district’s school board.

School Construction

HB0152 / Public Act 099-0470 – Amends the School Code to require that each school under its authority be equipped with approved carbon monoxide alarms or carbon monoxide detectors. The Act also includes requirements for the alarms and detectors, including specifications, mandatory locations, and requirements for plans, protocols, and procedures for the activation of the alarms and detectors. 

School Transportation

HB1665 / Public Act 099-0148 – Amends the Vehicle Code to state that a private carrier employer of a school bus driver permit holder shall be held to a standard of ordinary care for the intentional acts of the bus driver permit holders conducted within the course of employment, so long as the employer has satisfied the employer requirements of the Act. The amendment specifies that it does not limit the liability of the employer for violation of any provision of the Act or for any claim for negligent hiring or retention of a school bus driver permit holder.