A continuation of the Senate Republican staff’s summary of new laws that go into effect on January 1st:
70 mph Speed Limit Takes Effect
Illinois’ speed limit will soon be in line with most of the country. Senate Bill 2356 increases the maximum speed limit to 70 miles per hour (mph) on most interstates and toll highways.
Sponsored by Sen. Jim Oberweis (R-Sugar Grove), the new law updates speed limits to
reflect the reality of current driving speeds in Illinois and other states.
Interstates were designed for a higher rate of speed, and currently there are 34 states with speed limits of 70 mph or higher. Fifteen states have speed limits of 75 mph and one state has a speed limit of 85 mph.
All of Illinois’ neighboring states, except Wisconsin, have speed limits of 70 mph; however, the Wisconsin Assembly also recently voted to increase the speed limit to 70
mph on many state highways.
Although the law goes into effect January 1, the Illinois Department of Transportation has said it may take until mid-January before Interstate speed limit signs are updated across the state.
At the request of the Illinois State Police, Senate Bill 2356 also lowers the threshold to increase
the penalty for speeding from a petty offense to a misdemeanor. Speeding in excess of 26 miles
per hour but less than 35 mph (currently 31-40 mph) will be a Class B misdemeanor. Speeding
in excess of 35 mph (currently 40 mph) will be a Class A misdemeanor.
Senate Bill 2356 allows Cook County; the collar counties around Chicago; and Madison County
and St. Clair County near St. Louis, to opt out of the higher speed limit via ordinance.
Medical Marijuana in Illinois
Last summer, Illinois’ new medical marijuana law was signed. House Bill 1 legally allows authorized patients to use medical marijuana grown by an approved cultivation center and purchased from a registered dispensary.
Once the new law takes place on January 1, the Illinois Department of Public Health, the Illinois
of Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, and the Illinois Department of
Agriculture will have 120 days to develop the rules that will allow them to carry out their
responsibilities dictated by House Bill 1. This will include developing a registry of patients who
are allowed to use marijuana, and establishing the rules and regulations governing medical
marijuana cultivation centers and dispensaries.
House Bill 1 extends only to patients suffering from approximately 30 specific diseases and
conditions. As one of the most strictly drafted medical marijuana laws in the country, doctors
will be prohibited from prescribing the drug for generalized conditions such as “chronic pain” or
Proponents stressed that the bill strictly limits the drug to only those with serious illnesses,
emphasizing that medical marijuana has been shown to alleviate pain, nausea and improve
appetite for many patients with terminal or debilitating diseases.
However, opponents raised a number of concerns, citing evidence that marijuana is a “gateway” drug that opens the door to abuse of more harmful drugs and reiterating apprehensions raised by law enforcement officials; no local, state or federal law enforcement support the measure. They also
pointed out House Bill 1 conflicts with federal law, and would create an additional layer of
bureaucracy in Illinois to regulate cannabis.
Senate Republicans have posted a detailed explanation of House Bill 1 and the associated regulations included in the bill at the official Republican Senate web site.