Higher minimum wage, distracted driving crackdown among new Illinois laws in 2020

The start of the new year will trigger more than 250 new Illinois laws.

While the legalization of recreational marijuana is getting the most buzz, state laws affecting higher education, job applicants, crime, parents and the LGBTQ community are also being set into motion.

Here’s a closer look at what’s to come.


Illinois is believed to be the first state to take a step toward regulating how companies use artificial intelligence in considering job applicants.

A new law requires employers to get consent from potential employees being interviewed on video if they use AI analysis.

Companies are increasingly relying on AI assessments, where computers analyze facial movements and word choice, for example, to rank candidates against each other or weed them out.

While backers say computers can focus on things human interviewers miss, some experts have called it pseudo-science that opens the door to discrimination.

“Where is the data? How do they know this person is good for this job or not?’ said state Rep. Jaime Andrade, a Chicago Democrat who sponsored the measure. “This is so new.’”


Four state universities will be required to accept first-time freshmen who have a grade point average in the top 10% of their high school class, provided they meet other admission criteria.

The schools are: Northern Illinois University, Southern Illinois University, Western Illinois University and Eastern Illinois University.

Backers say the goal is to help students better prepare for the workforce and prevent brain drain.

Also, graduate-student research assistants will be able to unionize and collectively bargain under an expanded state law. Previously, students who worked as teaching assistants could unionize, not researchers.


Families will have more access to diaper changing tables when they’re on the go.

A new law says any building with restrooms open to the public are required to have at least one “safe, sanitary and convenient” diaper changing table in each of the women’s and men’s restrooms. That includes large stores and restaurants.

There are exceptions, including health industry buildings with single-user restrooms and facilities that don’t permit anyone under 18, like nightclubs.

Another law will give every baby born in Illinois a jump start on saving for college.

The Illinois treasurer is authorized to set up a program in 2020 giving every baby $50 in a college savings plan. The program will require roughly $10 million of taxpayer money, which will require either legislative approval or private donations.

Babies born in January 2021 will be eligible for the first funds.

“Research shows that any amount of savings dedicated to higher education makes a child more likely to attend college or trade school,” Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs said in a statement.

Another law will make it illegal to smoke in a car if there’s a child present.


A new law makes Illinois one of more than a dozen states requiring a gender-neutral option on drivers’ licenses. But it could be some time before the option is available.

The Illinois secretary of state has said that since driver’s license numbers are generated in part based on the listed gender, the office must overhaul its computer system to include a nonbinary option. The office is locked in a contract with an identification company until 2024. Secretary of state spokesman Dave Druker says the office is looking at other options to make the change earlier.

Still, advocates call the new law a win.

“Individuals who identify as nonbinary should have the ability to access identification documents that reflect who they are,” Equality Illinois spokesman Myles Brady Davis said after the law was signed. “This is a matter of safety, privacy, and the ability to live authentically without burden.

Another law requires all single-occupancy public restrooms not specify a gender.


Illinois will remove the statute of limitations on major sex crimes, including criminal sexual assault, regardless of the age of the victim. The new law ends the 10-year deadline prosecutors had to bring charges if a crime was reported to police within three years.

New rules will also allow for stricter penalties for crimes committed in houses of worship, including churches, mosques, synagogues or any structure used for religious worship.

The legislation was prompted by a 2009 shooting at a Maryville church that left the pastor dead.

“Attacks on people in vulnerable settings, especially in their place of worship are intolerable,” said state Sen. Rachelle Crowe, a Glen Carbon Democrat who sponsored the plan. “Our world has gotten used to living in fear, but your church is one place you should feel safe.”