‘Texting While Driving’ law takes effect July 1

‘Texting While Driving’ law takes effect July 1

‘Texting While Driving’ law takes effect July 1Motorists who text while driving will face stiffer penalties as Illinois’ law regarding the use of hand-held devices behind the wheel takes effect on July 1.

Passed by the General Assembly in May 2018, House Bill 4846 will count first-time incidences of driving while operating a handheld mobile device as a “moving violation.”  Prior to House Bill 4846, first offenses of distracted driving would be considered a “non-moving violation.” 

An operator using a hand-held device while the car is in drive could face a $75 fine.  Exceptions to the rule are made for situations such as a driver using a cell phone to report an emergency, using a device in hands-free or voice-operated modes, or a driver using a communication device while parked on the shoulder of a roadway.

Three moving violations in a year can result in a suspended driver’s license in Illinois.       

Beware of flood damage scams

Record floods have led to disaster proclamations being issued in 37 Illinois counties so far this Spring.

On June 18, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul warned residents not to fall for flood- damage scams and asked them to contact the Attorney General’s office to report fraudulent activities.  Those worried about these scams could also contact the Better Business Bureau to find out if complaints have been made against a specific contractor, and residents should be wary of any individual who solicits home repair or insurance adjusting services door-to-door. 

For those concerned that they may be interacting with a scammer, there are a few simple things that they can do to protect themselves.  Ask to see a permit before entering into any contract.  In Illinois, general contractors are not required by state law to be licensed, but municipalities may require permits or have other local requirements.  Insurance adjusters must be licensed by the Illinois Department of Insurance, and roofers must be licensed by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.

Try to get estimates from multiple contractors and make sure you receive it in writing.  Never make a full payment until all work has been completed in good quality.  Never pay in cash.  Anyone entering a contract has three days to cancel it if it was signed on the contractor’s visit to their home.

Bipartisan panel helps create new Census Office 

With the decennial census just around the corner, action was taken during the week to prepare for the task of counting Illinois’ citizens.

On June 20, an Executive Order was signed dedicating $29 million for the 2020 Census and making other preparations for the count.  This investment will primarily go to out-reach and education, providing proportional grants to communities, especially hard-to-count populations.

A new Census Office will also be established in the Illinois Department of Human Services to take the lead on filing public reports online on a monthly basis to detail its budget, expenditures and distributions of funds to organizations throughout Illinois.

The 12-member bipartisan Census Advisory Panel will guide the Census Office’s work and advise the Census Office on drafting and ensuring a wide distribution of the Notice of Funding Opportunity, working with the Illinois Complete Count Commission and ensuring that all communities receive communications during the 2020 Census.