As we ring in the new year, there are a few new laws that take effect in addition to the state’s minimum wage increasing to $11 an hour.
$11 minimum wage begins Jan. 1
Illinois’ minimum wage will increase to $11 per hour with the start of the New Year – the third in a series of incremental steps that will bring the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025. The first increase to $9.25 per hour came on Jan. 1, 2020, and the second step to $10.00 per hour came on July 1, 2020.
Opponents to the series of minimum wage increases cite the additional cost burdens on small-business owners across the state, as well as repercussions for employers across the board, including public universities, school districts, and not-for-profit organizations.
To help offset increased costs to the business community, small businesses are encouraged to take advantage of a tax credit available to businesses and nonprofits with 50 full-time equivalent employees or fewer. The Minimum Wage Credit will allow small businesses a maximum credit of 25 percent of the difference between the new minimum wage and what each employee was paid previously. The percentage allowed each proceeding year will decrease before it sunsets in 2026. Businesses can begin to claim the credit on their quarterly Illinois Withholding Income Tax Returns.
While this is not a long-term solution for small businesses, it will provide a measure of relief to employers as they face the hardships imposed by the minimum wage increase. More information on the Minimum Wage Credit is available here.
In February, Senate Republicans filed legislation to regionalize the minimum wage. Senate Bill 3396 would have provided for minimum wages based upon a percentage of the otherwise required minimum wage, depending upon the region of the State. The legislation established six regions for purposes of determining the minimum wage.
Additionally, it would have allowed specified units of local government to opt-out of the state-mandated minimum wage rates and opt-into a regionally adjusted minimum wage, which would have to be statutorily-authorized and statutorily-approved. It would have provided a sliding scale type of rate – so areas with historically-low unemployment or higher costs of living would keep rates closer to the state-mandated hourly rate.
Sponsored by 18 Republican Senators, Senate Bill 3396 was not allowed a public hearing by Senate leaders in legislative committee or on the Senate Floor.
Capping insulin price increases
Illinoisans whose health relies on insulin each day will benefit from a new law that caps increases in the drug’s costs.
In Illinois, 1.3 million people rely on insulin, and access to these lifesaving medications must be protected.
Senate Bill 667 caps the amount insulin prices can rise each year at the level of inflation, stopping price spikes that could otherwise make the important medication unaffordable. The new law specifically ties the price increase to the medical care component of the Consumer Price Index, which is determined by the United States Department of Labor.
The new law also requires the Illinois Departments of Insurance, Human Services, and Health and Family Services to investigate pricing practices for insulin. The goal of the investigations will be to determine what causes price spikes, and to protect patients from sudden increases. The agencies will also be required to compile and publish a report on their findings.
Missing persons reporting
A new law will modernize the search for missing persons and provide law enforcement professionals with access to updated tools, processes and databases available to help locate missing persons.
House Bill 2708 stipulates that law enforcement may attempt to obtain a DNA sample from a missing person’s DNA or a reference sample from family members’ DNA samples, as well as may submit DNA to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs).
NamUs is a national information clearinghouse and resource center for missing, unidentified, and unclaimed person cases across the United States
Address confidentiality for stalking victims
Another new law will expand protections for victims of sexual assault or stalking.
House Bill 2818 allows victims of sexual assault or stalking to apply for the address confidentiality program. Address confidentiality could help prevent future assault or stalking by keeping the victim’s address out of public record.
This new law expands the program, which had previously only provided address confidentiality for domestic violence victims.