2016 new laws: bobcat hunting, police body cameras

By Gary Scott on January 1, 2016 at 9:10am

There are plenty of new laws for West Central Illinoisans to be thinking about as we turn the calendar to 2016 this weekend.

Along with the new year comes new hunting laws in Illinois.

The first law was hotly debated in the legislature and allows bobcat hunting for the first time in more than 40 years. Jacksonville State Senator Sam McCann is the bill sponsor.

“They’re obviously a very important part of the ecosystem, so we want to be proactive in managing the proper ratios so that they can continue to thrive along with the rest of the ecosystem,” says McCann.

The bobcat hunting season will run from November 1st to February 15th, with a limited number of hunting permits available.

Another new hunting law raises the cap for youth hunting services from 16 to 18 years of age.

Elsewhere, there is a bundle of reforms to policing in Illinois. The sweeping legislation was sponsored in part by Representative Elgie Sims of Chicago, and is designed to increase police accountability and boost the public’s trust.

“There is a prohibition on the use of chokeholds. The law also institutes and provides for the procedures for police-worn body cameras, making Illinois the first state to have a statewide program in place to have the institution in place for body cameras,” says Sims.

The use of body cameras will not be required, but a special fund is being set up to help departments pay for them if needed. The law also establishes new reporting rules for stops and arrests, and mandates more training for police officers.