New Year, New Laws

John Schurer, co-news editor

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As 2016 begins, here are three of the 237 new Illinois state laws everyone should be aware of.

PET PROTECTION PROGRAM

The state’s Humane Care for Animals Act was recently amended to provide that “no owner of a dog or cat may expose the dog or cat in a manner that places the dog or cat in a life-threatening situation for a prolonged period of time in extreme heat or cold conditions.” A violation of this law could result in up to a year of jail time and a $2,500 fine. That being said, Illinois pet owners must now take extra precautions with extreme weather conditions. Sara Feigenholtz, sponsoring Democratic state Representative, said the bill was inspired by recent cases of dogs freezing to death in subzero temperatures last winter.

GAY CONVERSION THERAPY

Gay Conversion Therapy, the practice of turning homosexuals into heterosexuals through counseling and lifestyle adjustments, has been outlawed for minors in the state of Illinois. California, New Jersey, Oregon and the District of Columbia have outlawed this practice thus far, making Illinois the fourth state to do so. Illinois Senator Daniel Biss told Time Magazine that “[Gay Conversion Therapy] is out of date and can be deeply destructive to youth. Outlawing these practices is a small step in our pursuit for LGBT rights, but it’s an extremely important step in protecting young people in Illinois.”

IT’S TIME FOR PUMPKIN PIE

Illinois produced nearly 750 million pounds of pumpkin in 2014, according to WGN, making the state the largest pumpkin producer in the country. As a result, the official state pie of Illinois is now pumpkin pie. Keith Sommer, sponsoring Republican state Representative, said, “We do a lot of serious business here in this chamber and have a lot of hard work ahead of us, but it’s important to recognize the good things about the state of Illinois, the good things we share, the different cultures in the state.”

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