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Know Your Stuff: July Brings New State Laws

Several new laws take effect this month. Here's a rundown of what you need to know.

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois newest laws cover the spectrum from death to taxes to antifreeze. 

Illinois became the 16th state to abolish the death penalty, beginning Friday.

Jeremy Schroeder, executive director of the Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, a grassroots organization that pushed for the abolition of the state's death penalty since 1976, said Gov. Pat Quinn, who signed the bill into law in March, ordered life sentences for anyone on death row, including defendants in a handful of death penalty cases statewide. 

"It's certainly kind of a sad waste of taxpayer money, knowing that those people aren't going to be placed on death row," Schroeder said.  

However, the law’s effective date likely will go unnoticed, he added. 

"Most Illinoisans didn't think we had the death penalty," Schroeder said. Illinois has not executed a prisoner in more than 10 years.  

Online shoppers will pay the state's sales tax when they buy from online stores that may not have a physical store in Illinois but work with affiliates located within the state. Rates start at 6.25 percent, but vary depending on local communities. 

Illinois' so-called Amazon Tax, which took effect Friday, drove online retailer Fat Wallet out of the state. The web-based coupon and deals site moved its 56 employees from outside of Rockford to Beloit, Wis. 

"We said all along [the tax] was going to affect a pretty good chunk of our bottom line, and we'd have to relocate if it was passed," said Fat Wallet spokesman Brent Shelton. "So we did." 

Shelton said he wants the state-by-state spat over online sales taxes to end and be replaced with a national online tax to level the playing field. 

But it's not all weighty issues that prompted new laws. Friday also brought a new requirement for bitter-tasting antifreeze. The law is a result of pet owners, and the deadly consequences of "sweet" antifreeze. 

"Antifreeze, people tell me, I've never really tasted it, has a very sweet flavor about it. Some dogs and cats like the taste of it," said Dr. Byron McCall a Springfield-area veterinarian. "If the car leaks a little antifreeze in the garage, the dogs and cats lick it up." 

McCall said antifreeze is toxic and causes fatal kidney failure in pets. Illinois joins a dozen other states in requiring that a bitter-tasting ingredient be added to antifreeze. 

Other new laws target drivers who refuse to take a breathalyzer test after causing a wreck while driving under the influence of alcohol; criminals who harm children and pension eligibility for Chicago teachers. 

Editor's Note: This article was originally published by Illinois Statehouse News and was written by Benjamin Yount.

Joel Craig July 06, 2011 at 08:04 PM
If not for the appeals process, how many innocent people (not thugs, but wrongly-convicted people) would this state have executed? How many times in just the past few years have we seen over-zealous prosecutors seek the death penalty, only to find they had the wrong guy? The Nicarico murder? Riley Fox? Jerry Hobbs was held for 5 years without a trial before he was finally freed by the evidence (and yet there are those who will deny the truth of the evidence). If this isn't enough to not only give one concern for a justice system that needs to bring itself under control, it's also proof that capital punishment is an imperfect system that should no longer be used in a civilized society (fyi - I was at Stateville the night Gacy was executed and lived most of my life in support of capital punishment. It's only in recent years that I've learned that it does not work, it is not a deterrent to crime, and it is not cost-effective). The chance that an innocent person can be, or already has been executed, is too great. Check out the Todd Willingham case in Texas. This should never happen in this country.
The Sentinel July 06, 2011 at 08:16 PM
I never said we should do WITHOUT appeals. But appeal after appeal after appeal needs limits. You cite "what if's". Fine. But what about the VERY MANY who ARE guilty, dead-to-rights, the ones that outnumber your "what if's" by a very large margin? Like Gacy, Speck, or gangbangers who kill because someone wore the wrong colors in the wrong place? You'd REALLY want to house, feed, take care of filth like them until they die? You can if you wish. As far as I'm concerned, removing the death penalty just made it easier for them to kill, knowing they won'tdie too. Thanks for your opinion but I stand with my own.
N/A July 06, 2011 at 11:28 PM
I agree, Joel. If one innocent man is put to death, the entire system needs to be scrutinized. Illinois is one of many states that have wrongly convicted innocent men. Thumbs up to Governor Quinn on this one.
Anonymous July 07, 2011 at 12:05 AM
Actually it is generally accepted that there is not clear evidence supporting the claim that the death penalty deters violent crime. DPIC has a plethora of information http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/facts-about-deterrence-and-death-penalty
Logansdad July 13, 2011 at 05:08 PM
To me getting the death penalty is the easy way out. Which is worse spending your life in a small cell 23 hrs out of the day or being strapped to a table where you are put to sleep first and then your heart is stopped? Texas has executed more people than any other state and it doesnt act as a deterrent.

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