New Laws

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Signs warning against publicly smoking anywhere in the state are already beaming from buildings. Come January first, lighting up indoors could get smokers slapped with a ticket from the Public Health Department.

At the same time, the plant Salvia will be considered an illegal drug. Lawmakers say it's hallucination abilities are so serious, users would be charged the same as those caught with heroin or l-s-d.

Underage drivers, listen up. The drivers permit period is extending from three to nine months. Keep the cell phone on its' charger, or else you could be ticketed. And consuming, possessing or delivering any alcohol s leverage for getting your license revoked. The same goes for drag racing.

Over in Belvidere, the speed limit on all residential streets will drop to 25 miles per hour.

And starting July first, Machesney Park residents will pay an extra $2.50 for every $50 phone bill. That's expected to fund road improvements. Plus on February fifth, voters will be asked to approve a one-percent sales tax increase. If approved that would go into effect July first as well.

And finally, a new law that could forever change the world of journalism. It's called Whistle-blower Protection. And it prevents government agencies and universities from retaliating against employees who report violations of the law.

Some other interesting changes to note for next year. Embryonic and adult stem cell research will be allowed in Illinois and public funds could be used for such research. Plus eye exams will be required before students enter kindergarten or first grade, depending on the school.

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