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2021: New year, 3 new laws in Illinois

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - State lawmakers hoped to work on many plans in 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic cut their session short. Now, there's only three laws going into effect on Friday.

Residents can expect to see a price cap on insulin, stronger protections for survivors of sexual assault, and a new option to help law enforcement with missing person investigations.

Gov. JB Pritzker joined Dr. Ngozi Ezike, and many advocates to sign the monumental price cap bill into law on January 24. Any patients under the state's insurance plan needing insulin will only have to pay $100 per month for their prescription.

The lead sponsor, Sen. Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), emphasized this law could help 1.3 million Illinoisans suffering from diabetes. This also makes Illinois only the second state to cap co-pays for insulin under state insurance.

"The forces that fight things like this, those forces are numerous. They're well funded. They have armies of lawyers and lobbyists," Manar said on the signing day. "But, we have each other. And that's how we got this bill passed."

DNA for missing person investigations

Now, let's take a trip back in time to 2019.

The governor signed a plan to help investigators with missing person cases, as law enforcement can obtain DNA samples of an individual or one of their family members. State officials can now send DNA to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs).

"Finding a missing person requires law enforcement to move fast and cover as much ground as possible and this tool helps them do just that," stated Sen. Anthony Munoz (D-Chicago). "By utilizing the national system we will have a better chance of finding missing persons sooner."

Address confidentiality for survivors of sexual assault & stalking

The final law going into effect tweaks an existing program with the Attorney General's office to help victims of domestic violence. Now, survivors of sexual assault and stalking can acquire a substitute address for public documents to protect their privacy. The Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault says this is most effective when survivors move to a new location unknown by their perpetrator.

"It just increases that feeling of safety for the person who has been harmed," said ICASA Executive Director Carrie Ward. "And it just provides one more level of peace of mind for them as they begin that kind of healing and recovery process."

Ward explained the program doesn't enhance the physical safety that survivors need. However, she feels providing this new level of support is a great step forward.

Tax brackets staying the same

You may remember the General Assembly also approved new income tax brackets in May. Even so, that law won't go into effect since voters rejected Pritzker's graduated income tax plan in November. Many expect lawmakers to discuss a tax increase for all residents to make up for lost revenue.

Minimum wage: $11

The state's minimum wage will boost from $10 to $11 on Friday. This is part of a plan to increase the minimum wage every year until it reaches $15 on January 1, 2025. Workers under 18 years old or only working 650 hours per year will make $8.50. That wage will also rise up to $13 by 2025.

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Mike Miletich

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