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Media Literacy Requirement, Animal Products Ban Among Latest 53 Bills Signed By Pritzker

Public high schools in Illinois will soon be required to teach students how to access and evaluate various kinds of news and social media they see online and elsewhere as part of their regular curriculum.

That was among the 53 bills that Gov. JB Pritzker signed on Friday, July 9, bringing the total number of bills signed from the current General Assembly so far this year to 97.

House Bill 234 provides that starting in the 2022-2023 school year, all public high schools will provide a unit of instruction on media literacy that will include instruction on how to access information and evaluate the trustworthiness of its source; analyzing and evaluating media messages; creating media messages; assessing how media messages trigger emotions and behavior; and social responsibility.

The State Board of Education is tasked with preparing and distributing instructional resources and making professional learning opportunities available for educators.

The bill was sponsored by Rep. Elizabeth Hernandez, D-Cicero, and Sen. Karina Villa, D-West Chicago. It passed both chambers largely along party lines: 68-44 in the House, and 42-15 in the Senate.

Another new law makes it illegal to import into Illinois, with the intent of selling, any body parts or products made from a long list of endangered and exotic species.

Illinois, like many states, has long banned the importation of ivory and rhinoceros horns. Under House Bill 395, the list of animals whose parts or products are banned from being imported is expanded to include cheetahs, elephants, giraffes, great apes, hippopotami, jaguars, leopards, lions, monk seals, narwhals, pangolins, rays or sharks, rhinos, sea turtles, tigers, walruses, whales or any other species listed in the Convention on International Trade or listed as threatened or endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

The bill was sponsored by Rep. Martin Moylan, D-Des Plaines, and Sen. Linda Holmes, D-Aurora. It passed the House, 113-1, and the Senate, 57-0.

Illinois residents applying for admission to public colleges and universities in the state will no longer be required to submit SAT or ACT scores as part of their application starting in January 2022.

House Bill 226, known as the Higher Education Fair Admissions Act, requires all public higher education institutions to adopt a “test optional” policy for admissions, meaning they may not require students to submit standardized test scores, but may allow students to do so if they choose.

The bill was sponsored by Rep. LaToya Greenwood, D-East St. Louis, and Sen. Christopher Belt, D-Cahokia Heights. It passed the House, 109-8, and the Senate, 45-9.

Student athletes in both public and nonpublic schools are now allowed to alter their athletic or team uniforms for purposes of modesty, in accordance with their religion, cultural values or modesty preferences.

House Bill 120, which was sponsored by Rep. Will Guzzardi, D-Chicago, and Sen. Laura Murphy, D-Des Plaines, provides that modifications can include such things as hijabs, undershirts or leggings. Any modifications, however, may not interfere with the student’s movement or pose a safety hazard to the student or other athletes or players. There are also limits on how headgear can be modified.

Students who choose to modify their uniforms are responsible for all of the additional costs, unless the school chooses to cover the cost.

Drivers passing through school zones will have to slow down a little earlier on school days under another bill Pritzker signed into law.

House Bill 343, by Rep. Mark Batinick, R-Plainfield, and Sen. Meg Loughran Cappel, D-Shorewood, provides that special speed limits around schools will begin at 6:30 a.m. instead of 7 a.m. The new law takes effect immediately.

The bill passed both chambers unanimously.

High school seniors who are in the custody of the Department of Children and Family Services can be assured that they will have applications for student financial aid filled out by the time they are ready to apply to college.

Senate Bill 63, by Sen. Robert Peters and Rep. Curtis Tarver, both Chicago Democrats, requires that, beginning in 2022, DCFS will ensure that every youth in care in Illinois who is entering their final year of high school, will complete a Free Application for Federal Student Financial Aid or an application for state financial aid no later than Nov. 1 of their final year.

The bill passed both chambers unanimously.

And children operating lemonade stands will no longer need to worry about first getting a permit.

Senate Bill 119, by Sen. Patrick Joyce, D-Essex, and Rep. Anthony DeLuca, D-Chicago Heights, provides that neither the Department of Public Health nor any local health department or public health district may regulate the sale of lemonade, nonalcoholic drinks or mixed beverages by a person under the age of 16.

The new law has been dubbed “Hayli’s Law,” after a 12-year-old girl whose lemonade stand in Kankakee was shut down by local officials, according to an article on the Illinois Senate Democrats website.

The bill passed both chambers unanimously.

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government and distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.