Illinois marijuana laws
Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker signed a bill making it now legal to possess marijuana for recreational use, becoming the eleventh state to do so. (Gov. JB Pritzker/Twitter courtesy photo)

SPRINGFIELD (Heartland Newsfeed) — Beginning Monday, July 1, some new laws are being enforced and existing laws being further reinforced in Illinois:

  • As a part of the Tobacco 21 bill — House Bill 345, it is now illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to purchase cigarettes anywhere in the state.
  • As a result of the passage of Senate Bill 690, the cigarette tax will increase another $1 per pack to $2.98 per pack from $1.98 per pack. This makes Illinois the second highest cigarette tax in the Midwest next to Minnesota — and tenth highest in the nation. The hike also makes the city of Chicago’s current cigarette tax of $7.17 per pack increase to $8.17 per pack.
  • Also part of SB690, there will be a statewide 15% sales tax on e-cigarettes and vaping equipment. Illinois became the eighth state in the nation to tax these products.
  • Also part of SB690, there will be an expansion of gambling in the state.
  • Per Senate Bill 1939, you see a motor fuel tax hike of 19 cents per gallon to 38 cents. This means on Monday, expect to see your currently low gas prices skyrocket suddenly. This hike takes Illinois 43rd-highest rate to just below New Jersey as the sixth highest motor fuel tax in the nation. This makes your overall motor fuel tax bill 57 cents per gallon combined with the Federal rate.
  • Diesel fuel will receive a 2.5 cent hike to 7.5 cents per gallon as a part of the law.
  • Any driver caught texting while driving will have a moving violation recorded on their driving record with additional fines and court costs determined by a judge. A driver with three moving violations within a 12-month period could result in a suspension of driving privileges. (EDITOR’S NOTE: In retrospect, this needs to be enforced toward on-duty police officers and emergency personnel as well.)
  • Registration fees on electric vehicles are expected to hike considerably (see next law for details).
  • Expect an increase on your registration renewals when you’re renewing in 2020 for 2021. Here are some hikes to expect:

Laws already being enforced

  • While your school children won’t notice the change until this fall, Senate Bill 28 will require five hours of academic instruction in public schools out of the eight-hour academic day.
  • Mayors can now officiate over weddings, per the signing of Senate Bill 2841 into law.
  • Township governments were stripped of their authority to regulate placement of wind farms outside of an incorporated city’s zoning area, per Senate Bill 2988. That bill came in response to a dispute in Douglas County in eastern Illinois, where two townships sought to block development of a large-scale wind farm.
  • Local governments are prohibited from enacting “right to work” laws under Senate Bill 1474. The bill was filed in retaliation to local laws enacted in 2015 by elected officials in the Lake County village of Lincolnshire.

Laws being enforced later this year (or in 2020)

  • Also part of SB690, there will be an additional tax on parking garages, meaning your parking fees will be increasing 6% for daily and hourly parking, 9% for monthly and annual parking.
  • A tax amnesty program will be offered from October 1 until November 15 to pay back taxes without interest or penalties.
  • Marijuana legalization for recreational use may already have an immediate enforcement date, various state agencies still need to begin the drafting of rules and regulations regarding licensing of marijuana growers, processors, transporters and retailers.  The sale of and legal possession of marijuana for recreational use won’t be legal until the clock strikes midnight going into the new year.

Jake Leonard is the editor-in-chief of Heartland Newsfeed and GM/program director of the Heartland Newsfeed Radio Network. Leonard is also general manager of Heartland Internet Media Networks and an active contributor to four newspapers for Pana News Group.