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New state laws take effect this year

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Posted: Sunday, January 23, 2011 7:25 pm | Updated: 1:39 pm, Mon Jan 24, 2011.

With the start of the New Year, many new Illinois state laws went into effect, some odd and some expected. The new laws cover everything from campaign contributions to Illinois residents owning a primate.

Campaign Contributions

Under the new laws, there will now be limits on campaign contributions. Individuals can give a maximum of $5,000 to any one candidate that they support. Businesses and unions can donate a maximum of $10,000.

Artemus Ward, assistant professor of political science, said this means candidates will have to work harder to raise the funds that they need to win.

Ward said this law will limit corruption in politics in a way.

"The Supreme Court has said that campaign finance law can serve to limit corruption but also the appearance of corruption," Ward said. "But the court also has upheld the basic principle that money is a form of free speech protected by the First Amendment; it's a balancing act where money is an inevitable part of politics but corruption and the appearance of corruption allows limits to be placed on contributions."

Primary Elections

The next presidential primary for the state of Illinois will now be held on the third Tuesday in March on even-numbered years.

Monkey Ban

Illinois has banned its residents from owning monkeys, lemurs, chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans.

This law was implemented in wake of an attack on a person by a pet chimpanzee. Charla Nash, a Connecticut resident was mauled by her 200 pound pet in February 2010, sustaining serious injuries to her face, according to the Huffington Post.

Only zoos and designated entities will be allowed to possess a primate.

Bike Safety

It is now illegal for motorists to drive their vehicle near, close to, or toward a bicyclist. This prevents vehicles from crowding or threatening the safety of bicyclists. Penalties for disobeying this include fines upwards of $2,500 and one year in jail.

DeKalb Police Lt. Carl Leoni stated that the new law can't hurt anything, but it is still unknown if it will be effective in preventing accidents involving bicyclists.

Leoni said enforcing this law will most likely be a judgment call by the police.

"It's going to break down to someone driving in such a careless way that a police officer will have to stop him or if someone calls to complain about a driver," Leoni said. "Regardless of the new law, it's still up to the bicyclist to look out for their own safety. Drivers really are more concerned with other vehicles on the road, and they can sometimes lose sight of a bicyclist because of that."

Speeding

A new law now states that people driving between 30 and 39 mph over the speed limit will be charged with excessive speeding. Penalties include up to $1,500 in fines and six months in jail. Drivers going 40 mph over the speed limit will no longer be punished by receiving court supervision. These drivers can be fined up to $2,500 and spend one year in jail.

Sexting

Teenagers under the age of 18 can face stiffer penalties if caught sexting. Sexting is defined as sending sexually graphic photos of oneself via e-mail or cell phone. Previous cases involving minors were charged using federal pornography laws, which requires registration as a sex offender. In January 2009, six high school students from Pennsylvania were charged with child pornography after students took and sent nude or semi-nude photos of themselves to classmates, according to MSNBC News.

Under the new law, these minors could be ordered into counseling and also be given community service to complete.

Synthetic marijuana

Two forms of synthetic marijuana are now banned in Illinois. These include K2, spice or blaze, and are usually sold as incense, but people smoke them as they would marijuana.

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