Fight for $15
With the passage of SB 1, minimum wage workers will gradually find their paychecks getting larger and larger. The hourly minimum wage in Illinois made its way to $9.25 an hour on Jan. 1, and will be $10 come July. The increase will continue until 2025, when minimum wage will reach $15.
That blunt is now legal-ish
Many excited Illinoisans gathered outside marijuana dispensaries on Jan. 1, the day recreational use became legal in the prairie state. The passage of HB 1438 allows Illinois residents age 21 and up to possess limited amounts of marijuana — 30 grams of the flower, five grams of concentrate and 500 milligrams of edibles, to be exact. However, as illinois.gov’s summary of the new law states, those registered as part of the medical cannabis pilot program may obtain more than 30 grams, provided it’s grown and kept in their residence. For those traveling to Illinois to legally indulge, the possession limit is cut in half.
Use is restricted into one’s own residence — meaning legally owned — as landlords may legally prohibit use on their properties. Essentially, the amount and place used is the difference between abiding by and breaking the new law. SIUE is one of the places where marijuana is strictly prohibited.
As The Alestle previously reported, marijuana is not allowed on campus at all, including paraphernalia, even if it’s stored in personal vehicles.
More student votes on BOT
In late July, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed HB2239 in SIUE’s very own Goshen Lounge. Now, with the passage of the new year, both SIU student trustees will officially be able to vote on Board of Trustees matters.
The bill was spearheaded by Rep. Katie Stuart, D-Edwardsville. Before the new year, only one student trustee had voting power at the discretion of the governor.
Grad assistants granted employee rights
Graduate assistants will now be classified as employees, rather than students, in the Illinois Labor Relations Act.
This is more than a small wordage change, as it grants graduate assistants the same rights as employees, such as the ability to collectively bargain.
Increased punishment for hitting construction workers
The passage of SB 1496 increased the maximum penalty one could receive for hitting a construction zone worker — what used to be $10,000 is now $25,000. Disobeying traffic-control devices in a construction or maintenance zone could cost between $100 and $1,000.
Don’t ignore school bus stop signs
This one might require students who commute through residential areas to leave a bit earlier, as the penalty for illegally passing a school bus has doubled. Under HB 1873, the first violation will cost $300, and repeat offenders will face $1,000.
Approach emergency vehicles with extra caution
Remember Scott’s Law from driver’s ed? January made the stakes higher for failing to comply. For those who need a quick refresher, Scott’s Law states drivers must slow down, change lanes and proceed with caution when coming across emergency vehicles or broken down cars on the side of the road. The minimum fine for first-time offenders saw a $150 increase, taking it up to $250, and the second offense was brought to a minimum $750.
Inclusive restrooms are now law
More and more restrooms will begin to look like those at Starbucks: under SB 556, public single-use restrooms must be clearly labeled as usable for all, regardless of gender.
State IDs move beyond the binary
As soon as the Secretary of State’s office updates their system, there will be more than just two options when designating sex on state ID cards and drivers licenses. A third non-binary option will be added as X, but may not be available until 2024, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality. In the meantime, the Illinois Secretary of State’s office accepts a form for gender change here, but only for male or female.
REAL ID soon needed for air travel
Anybody tuning into local news recently has probably heard of the coming enforcement of the REAL ID Act, however, there is still a lot of confusion as to what it is. Essentially, Illinois and Missouri residents have until Oct. 1 to obtain what is called a “REAL ID” from the Secretary of State’s Office. The REAL ID is upping security — it requires more documents to obtain. If one doesn’t meet the Oct. 1 deadline and does not have a valid passport, they will not be able to fly domestically.