New laws take effect in Illinois regarding insulin pricing, minimum wage

Victim's rights, DNA to ID missing persons also addressed

By Rex Robinson | 1/4/2021, 6 a.m.
Only a handful of new laws took effect in 2021 in Illinois, mainly as a result of the ongoing Coronavirus ...

Only a handful of new laws took effect in 2021 in Illinois, mainly as a result of the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic and a shortened session of the legislature.

The two major new laws that went into effect on Jan. 1 concerned minimum wage and the cap on the price of insulin to treat diabetes.

The Illinois Department of Labor is encouraging employees to watch their paychecks to ensure that time worked in 2021 is paid at the new rate of $11 per hour, which went into effect on Jan. 1.

Gov. JB Pritzker signed legislation into law in 2019 providing a path to a $15 minimum wage by 2025. Minimum wage earners received two increases in 2020 to $9.25 an hour on Jan. 1 followed by an increase to $10 an hour on July 1. The minimum wage is expected to continue to increase an additional $1 an hour each Jan. 1 until it reaches $15 an hour in 2025. Prior to the 2020 increases, the last time Illinois increased its minimum wage was more than a decade ago in 2010 when it was raised to $8.25.

This year’s increase is sure to have an impact on businesses in Illinois due to economic hardships brought on by the COVID pandemic. It has especially hurt restaurants and bars throughout Will County and the rest of Illinois.

Cook County has a higher minimum wage than the state, currently $13 an hour. The current city of Chicago minimum wage is $13.50 an hour for small employers (4 to 20 employees) and $14 an hour for large employers (21 or more employees). The new law maintains provisions for employers to count gratuities to offset wages for workers such as food servers who regularly earn tips. Tipped employees may be paid 60 percent of the hourly minimum wage. These workers must still earn the minimum wage after receiving tips or the employer must make up the difference. Workers who are under 18 years old and work fewer than 650 hours in a year will earn a minimum wage of $8.50 per hour beginning January 1. The youth minimum wage rate will gradually rise to $13 an hour by 2025. All Illinois employers are required to post the “Your Rights Under Illinois Employment Laws” in a conspicuous location on the premises of the employer where notices to employees are customarily posted.

Pritzker also signed SB 667, capping out of pocket insulin costs at $100 for a 30-day supply. The new law, which also took effect on Jan. 1, is an important step forward in lowering healthcare costs for working families making Illinois a leader in ensuring healthcare is a right, not a privilege, Pritzker said. The 1.3 million Illinoisans who rely on insulin will no longer face soaring prescription drug prices that force them to make tough decisions, according to the governor.

“Health care is a right for all, not a privilege and that is why I am so proud that we created an insulin price cap that successfully puts patients above profit,” Pritzker said. “As we work to address the high cost of prescription drug prices that are burdening millions all across our state, this new law is an essential step in fulfilling our promise to put state government back on the side of working families.”

Diabetes affects approximately 1,300,000 adults in Illinois. All people with Type 1 diabetes and some with Type 2 diabetes need insulin, but regular price hikes make insulin difficult to afford for the uninsured and those whose coverage requires significant cost sharing.

Other new laws also took effect on Jan. 1, including one protecting domestic violence survivors, who can now conceal their personal information from their abusers. Another new law for 2021 allows sexual assault and stalking survivors to participate in an attorney general-managed address confidentiality program. Also, as of Jan. 1, there is a new process for using DNA to attempt to identify and locate a missing person.