Every New Year brings a bevy of new state laws into effect, and 2020 is no different with over 250 new Illinois laws taking effect. The vast majority of these may have little impact on the daily life of most in Illinois, but there are always a handful that loom larger over Illinois residence. Here are some of the most impactful new Illinois laws for 2020:

Recreational Marijuana – This is the new law that has arguably been getting the most press. Starting with the New Year it will be legal to buy and smoke marijuana in Illinois, subject to the state restrictions. What this generally means is that those 21-years of age and over will be able to buy marijuana in state licensed dispensaries and consume/smoke said marijuana in private.

You still cannot use marijuana products in public, and it is still illegal to grow your own marijuana or sell/distribute it without a state license. So hold off on replanting your garden to sell it at your local farmers market.

Minimum Wage Increases – Illinois’ lowest paid workers received a raise on January 1st as the state minimum wage will increase from $8.25/hr. to $9.25/hr. This will be followed by another raise to $10/hr. on July 1st, 2020. Additional $1/hr. raises will then take effect each January 1st for the next 5-years until the state minimum wage this $15/hr.

Some municipalities in Illinois already have higher minimum wage laws on the books. Chicago, for example, already has a $13/hr. minimum wage that is set to go up $1/hr. on July 1st the next two years.

Nationwide there have been varying studies of varying legitimacy expounding how minimum wage hikes will or will not destroy the economy and small businesses. To lessen the impact on small business the new Illinois law does provide a tax credit for businesses with 50 employees of fewer to offset 25 percent of the cost of their wage increases in 2020 due to the new law. This tax credit will go down over the years, but it will be a way to soften the new change for small business owners.

New Rules for Illinois Trusts – The biggest change to Illinois trust law in a generation went into effect on January 1st, 2020. It could impact any individual who has a trust or is a beneficiary of any trust. Some of the changes codify elements that were established in Illinois case law, but there are some fundamental changes to the default trust laws as well. In particular there will be an expansion of the default rights a future beneficiary and a trustee may have, as well as new limits on the exculpation of a Trustee.

Many of the new rules can be addressed in a properly drafted trust, but the default provisions many trustees, beneficiaries, and attorneys took for granted have changed. We recommend that anyone with a trust review the terms to make sure the trust still operates and functions as they envisioned.

If you want to learn more about the new Illinois Trust Code please read my article addressing just that.

Sexual Harassment Rule Changes and new Mandatory Training – The New Year brought new laws on sexual harassment training and reporting across the state. In general, all private sector employers (regardless of size) will be required to provide sexual harassment training to all Illinois employees each year. Violations of this law will be subject to civil penalties depending on the number of employees a business has.

One of the other items in the sexual harassment law will place significant restrictions on the use of non-disclosure agreements, and mandatory arbitration agreements in cases involving sexual harassment and discrimination.

Safeguarding Genetic Information – DNA tests that claim to analyze one’s DNA to determine their genetic genealogy or even medical risks are increasingly popular. But this new trend of genetic testing puts huge amounts of personal information in the hands of corporations. To try and combat some of the risks that come with that a new Illinois law went into effect this year that prohibits companies from sharing any test results with health of life insurance companies without the consumer’s written consent.

That doesn’t mean that these genetic testing companies can’t necessarily sell your data to other companies though. So if your genetic test results let you know that you are 4% German, don’t be surprised if you start seeing ads for lederhosen.

Animal Tested Cosmetics Ban – SB 0241 which took effect January 1, 2020, will ban manufacturers from selling in Illinois a cosmetic product that used animal testing in their manufacturing or development. There may be a short lag on how quickly Illinois store shelves are devoid of animal tested cosmetics as the law applies to items that were manufactured as of January 1, 2020. There are also a number of other exceptions to the new law as well that will allow some products to make it to the shelves.

These are just a few of the new Illinois laws that took effect January 1, 2020, but if you have questions about how these laws or any others will impact you or your business we encourage you to reach out to an attorney to discuss the issue.