New laws go into effect in Illinois

By Josh Winters

Illinois rang in the new year with a few new laws on education, health and technology. Below is a compiled list of some of the most notable laws to pay attention to this year. 

HB 5085: Universities can research hemp

State universities with a four-year agriculture degree can grow and conduct research on hemp, the stalk of the cannabis plant species that also produces marijuana. The universities must work with the Department of Agriculture by providing quarterly and annual reporters on the research.

HB 5701: Employers can’t ask about criminal history until the interview

This law prohibits companies with 15 or more employees from asking applicants about their criminal history until they have been offered conditional employment or selected for an interview. The law excludes applicants for emergency medical service and security-related positions.

HB 4207: Schools combat cyberbullying

Illinois schools will receive tools to protect their students from cyberbullying. Students cannot be subjected to cyberbullying if it interferes with their ability to learn or the school’s ability to educate. Schools can investigate cases  even if the bullying happened over private internet devices.

HB 1152: Task force created to review structure for CPS schools

This law creates the Chicago Educational Governance Task Force, which will examine the Chicago public school system and assess the best procedure and structure for governing the largest public school district in the state. The task force must report to the General Assembly by May 30, 2016.

SB 2636: Myoclonic-Astatic Epilepsy patients can get medical marijuana

This law adds myoclonic-astatic epilepsy to the list of “debilitating medical conditions” that qualify for medical marijuana. Cannabidiol is a major non-psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that has been used to treat patients suffering from frequent seizures.

SB 2985: Deceased owners of small estates must pay debts before heirs receive

You may not get Grandpa’s Camaro when he passes away after all. Under the law, if a deceased person’s estate is worth less than $100,000 dollars, the executor of the small estate affidavit must first list and pay all outstanding debts their client owed before their heirs or legatees receive any of possessions.