This comes from the Illinois Republican State Senate Staff:
New Laws for 2014
More than 200 new laws take effect on January 1, 2014, including measures targeting distracted
driving and developing the rules and regulations associated with the state’s new medical
Additional laws will increase the transparency of the state grant process, and many motorists
will be happy to learn the state speed limit will soon increase to 70 miles per hour on most
Ban Political Use of State Grants
Though state grants account for hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars each year, it is
extremely difficult to track these funds and what they are being use for.
Two new laws sponsored by Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) will not
only make it easier to review how grant monies are being used, but ensure the dollars aren’t
being used in an inappropriate manner—such as furthering someone’s political ambitions
Beginning Jan. 1, Senate Bill 2380 will restrict state grant dollars from being used for
prohibited political activities.
To more easily track state grants, Senate Bill 2381 requires the state’s Chief Information
Officer to develop a system to collect state financial data, including information specific to
the management and administration of grant funds, and make the information available on
www.data.illinois.gov for public review.
The new laws were introduced in response to a four-month 2012 CNN investigation that
revealed millions of taxpayer-financed grant dollars had been used by Gov. Pat Quinn’s
Neighborhood Recovery Initiative grant program to finance a variety of questionable activities. The money was used to pay teenagers to march in a parade with the Governor, hand out flyers promoting inner peace, take field trips to museums, and attend yoga classes. The Neighborhood Recovery Initiative program is being audited by the state’s Auditor General.
Distracted Driving: Cell Phone Ban
Illinois joins roughly a dozen other states with laws banning the use of cell phones while
driving. Though the state already has a prohibition in place for texting and driving, once
House Bill 1247 takes effect Illinois resident will no longer be allowed to talk on cell phones
when driving, unless using hands-free technology.
A survey conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that at any
given daylight moment across America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell
phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving. Proponents say the new law will cut
down on distracted driving, making Illinois’ roads safer.
Violators of the law will be fined $75 for a first offense. Fines of as much as $150 could be
issued for repeat offenses as well as facing a moving violation on their driving record. Drivers
are still allowed to make calls in an emergency.
Another law will increase penalties for accidents involving someone who was using a cell phone
or other communication device while behind the wheel. House Bill 2585 increases penalties
for drivers who were distracted by these types of devices, if it led to a motor vehicle accident
resulting in serious injury or permanent disability. These were previously considered a
petty offense; however, as of January 1, those convicted could be charged with a felony, carrying penalties of up to 3 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.