It is the on-going commitment of the Women in the Law Committee to continue to actively monitor and comment on new and proposed legislation and to highlight existing laws of importance and interest to women and families. The following is a brief synopsis of legislation recently signed into law by the Governor:
Mothers Breast Feeding in Public
Public Act 093-0942 (effective date August 16, 2004) provides that a mother may breast feed her baby in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be, irrespective of whether the nipple of mother's breast is uncovered. Mothers denied the right may recover reasonable attorney fees in an action to enjoin future denials. (See also article by Committee Member Jill O'Brien for details about the impact and importance of this new law).
Public Act 093-911 (effective date January 5, 2005). This law authorizes a grandparent, great-grandparent, or sibling to file a petition for visitation rights if there an unreasonable denial of visitation and one other factor, including: 1) one parent is incompetent, deceased or has been sentenced to more than one year in prison; 2) the child's parents are divorced or legally separated during a three-month period prior to the filing of the petition, exists. (For detailed analysis of this topic see, Illinois Bar Journal, September, 2004, Vol. 92, Law Pulse, "Grandparent visitation, take 2," by Helen W. Gunnarsson).
Standing in Custody Proceedings-Grandparents
Public Act 093-1026 (effective date January 5, 2005). This law authorizes a grandparent to seek custody of a grandchild if a parent is deceased and the grandparent is a parent or stepparent of the deceased parent if one or more of the following factors exists at the time of the death of the parent: 1) the surviving parent had been absent from the marital abode for more than one month without the deceased parent knowing his or her whereabouts; 2) the surviving parent is in state or federal custody; 3) the surviving parent had received supervision for or been convicted of any bodily harm crime as set forth in Article 12 of the Criminal Code against the deceased parent or child or had violated an order of protection in favor of the deceased parent or the child.
Public Act 093-921 (effective January 1, 2005). Set forth in detail standards and procedures for the protection of all the parties involved in a gestational surrogacy contract and confirms the legal status of the child born as a result of such a contract. Defines, among other things, "intended mother" and "intended father" and sets out the requirements for a gestational surrogate (must be over 21, have given birth at least once and have consulted with independent legal counsel).
The new legislative season is underway and the Committee is actively reviewing and commenting on proposed legislation, as well as actively participating in considering drafts of proposals for new legislation or amendments to existing legislation. Over the next several months we look forward to bringing to our readers' attention proposed State House and Senate bills which are under consideration by our legislature in Springfield.
Children Returning to School
In this section we also hope to highlight legislation which addresses frequently asked questions, such as: "can a grandparent enroll a child in school if the child lives with grandparent?" Courtesy of Committee member, Annemarie E. Kill, we would like to highlight Section 10-20.12b of the Illinois School Student Records Act, (105 ILCS 5/10-20.12b), which does allows grandparents (as well as other persons) to enroll children in their care in the school district in which the grandparent resides if certain criteria exists.
All of these new Public Acts can be viewed in full on the Web at <www. legis.state.il.us/legislation>.