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Examining New Laws in Illinois in 2021

Published on Nov 30, 2020 at 7:47 am in News.

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As we get closer to January 1, 2021, it’s time to take a look at the law changes we’ll see in Illinois. While laws have the potential to be introduced and passed at various points throughout the year, we often see some of the most significant changes arrive with the New Year.

This coming year, we’ll see changes regarding an increase to the minimum wage, a potential statewide tax increase, changes to how employers have to report instances of sexual harassment and discrimination to the Illinois Department of Human rights, and the introduction of a college fund for children born and adopted in our state. Let’s start by taking a look at the minimum wage increase.

Minimum Wage Increase

For the third time since 2020, minimum wage workers in Illinois are getting a raise. A previous increase occurred on January 1 and July 1, 2020. Under the new law, the minimum wage will increase to $11 per hour on January 1, 2021. That amount will continue to expand on an annual basis until it reaches $15 per hour on January 1, 2025.

Prior to the first 2020 increase, the last time Illinois increased its minimum wage was in 2010 when it went from $8 to $8.25 per hour. In response to the rise, Michael Kleinik, director of the Illinois Department of Labor, said, “While IDOL fully expects employers to abide by the new minimum wage, it is important for workers to inspect their checks to make sure they reflect the increase.”

Potential Tax Increase

In the November 2020 election, voters were asked whether to approve a constitutional amendment that would shift the state from a flat to a graduated income tax. At the time, Illinois Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton warned that if voters did not approve the constitutional amendment, all residents could see an income tax hike of at least 20%.

Voters did not pass the amendment. According to Stratton, “To adequately address the budget crisis under our current tax system, lawmakers will be forced to consider raising income taxes on all Illinois residents by at least 20% regardless of their level of income.” A 20 percent increase would bring Illinois’ current income tax rate up from 4.95% to 5.94% across the board.

Employers and Discrimination Claims

On July 1, 2020, an amendment to the Illinois Human Rights Act reduced the number of employees, from 15 to one, that an employer must have to be subject to state discrimination laws. To continue increasing employee protections, employers will be required to file any final, adverse judgments or administrative rulings enter against them in discrimination or sexual harassment to the Illinois Department of Human Rights. Employers will have to file these reports for the preceding calendar year before July 1 of each subsequent year.

College Fund for Children in Illinois

Beginning January 1, 2021, every child born or adopted in Illinois will get $50 deposited in their college savings account or 529 plan. That deposit is part of a new law, which introduces the Illinois Higher Education Program. Financial experts say the cost to attend college keeps going up five to six percent every year, so state legislators hope this law will combat those rising college tuition prices. Lawmakers hope it will also remind parents to contribute to their child’s college fund starting at birth.

To start the program, it will cost Illinois $8 million and another $1.5 million each year after. Over the course of 18 years, that $50 with dividends and interest will grow maybe a few hundred dollars, but the program’s goal is to help families and give parents a place to save. Research shows that a child is more likely to attend college just by having a savings account in place.

High school graduates who do not use the money by the time they’re 26 will have to forfeit the $50 back to the state for other students in the future.

Thomas Law Offices stays abreast of all Illinois law changes to ensure we continue to provide our clients with the best legal representation possible. While the laws above may not directly impact personal injury claims, there’s always the chance future laws will. To learn more about potential law changes for 2021, get in touch with our law firm today.

If you believe you have grounds to pursue a personal injury claim, we’re here to help. We represent victims across Illinois, and we’re ready to take your case on next, so you can recover and get your life back in order.

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Tad Thomas - Trial Lawyer

Tad Thomas

Managing Partner

Tad Thomas has dedicated his practice to representing plaintiffs in various types of civil litigation, including personal injury, business litigation, class actions, and multi-district litigation.

After graduating with his law degree in 2000 from Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University, Mr. Thomas immediately opened his own private practice and began representing injury victims.

In 2011, Thomas Law Offices was established in Louisville, Kentucky. Over the past decade, Mr. Thomas has expanded his firm and now has offices in three additional locations: Cincinnati, Ohio, Columbia, Missouri, and Chicago, Illinois. He is also a frequent lecturer on topics like trial skills and ethics and technology.

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