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diana-feil-226524-copy-200x300It is a sad fact, but it is still a true one: Gun violence in Chicago, Illinois is steadily climbing higher and higher. The amount of gun crimes taking place in the city is reaching what some consider to be an epidemic level, making residents feel fearful and unsafe. Meanwhile, there are two opposing camps that are warring over the best way to deal with the gun crime rates in the Windy City: Those who feel that more gun control is needed, and those who feel like less is needed. With gun violence on the rise and crime rates at unpleasant numbers, it is making dealing with the law itself increasingly difficult.

The Second Amendment

Until recently, guns could not even be purchased inside of Chicago. The local laws banned the sale of guns within the city limits. However, in 2016, this law was ruled as unconstitutional. Strong advocates of the Second Amendment were thrilled, but those in favor of gun control were not quite so happy with the outcome. Whatever the case, it became a fact of life: Guns were easier to obtain in Chicago. There is little evidence at the moment that gun laws were being broken either before or after this occurred, so the jury is still out on any strong connection.

nicolas-barbier-garreau-256433-copy-300x240In the legal world, few matters are as controversial as those that allow confiscation and forfeiture by the police. It is something that has dramatically polarized the two sides. It is rare that you will find someone who is neither truly “for” nor truly “against” these laws. Those who are in favor of the police departments being legally allowed to confiscate goods and money hold that law enforcement is taking away the proceeds of criminal enterprises. Staunch advocates, however, state that the police are nothing but thieves with badges who are taking the property of citizens without trials or due process. This issue is a complex one, to say the least.

Policing for Profit

To understand the law in Chicago, one must first understand what civil forfeiture and confiscation means and how it would apply to the person being affected by it. The standard rule of law used in Chicago dictates that police may confiscate property, including money, that meets certain criteria. These criteria are simple and, to some, are far too broad: Law enforcement officers have to believe that the property was used in a crime, is intended to be used in a crime, or has been obtained in connection with a crime. As you can see, this is a straightforward, if broad, list.

zjrupeakpzi-aidan-meyer-300x200Chicago is one of those cities that is conscious about the impact of human economic activity on the environment. You need a competent and qualified lawyer to ascertain your rights, privileges, duties, and responsibilities under the current regime. The state has put in place a number of interrelated regulations that are meant to ensure that there are some limits to human behavior in this respect. There is an implicit agreement with the local community that they will submit to the state for the greater public good. The issues of environmental protection are contentious. It is therefore not surprising that some people believe the state should adopt a hands-off approach in this respect. Nevertheless, there are certain minimum standards that are enforced in Chicago.

The environment is defined way beyond the ecological conceptualizations that many people associate with this section of the law. The environment can include land, air, water, and even space. The idea is that the public should be able to enjoy these amenities and facilities in a responsible way so as not to deplete or damage them. Some of the benefits of environmental protection are not restricted to the current generation but are more to do with the future generations. This is what is known as inter-generational solidarity, in which one generation is able to see beyond its immediate interests in order to protect natural resources for those that come after it.

Penalties for Unacceptable Behavior

markus-spiske-153537-200x300Cyber terrorism is a serious crime. Obviously, this falls on the higher end of the offenses that are committed on the internet. Chicago, like many states, is trying to update its laws in order to deal with these threats in an effective way, bearing in mind the fact that the technology is constantly changing. Likewise, there are employee training requirements for companies. The law firms that defend and participate in prosecutions are also coming to terms with the intricacies of the laws as well as the various regulations that have been put in place to regulate the activity that takes place on the internet.

One of the issues that has come to the fore is the possibility that in the pursuit of cyber legality, there is a danger of infringing on the privacy of Chicago citizens. The state and legislature are always willing to have more control over the activities of residents. However, that level of control might have serious implications in terms of protecting civil liberties and the integrity of the American Constitution. The International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) has been at the forefront of advocacy work in this respect so as to moderate some of the excesses that are proposed in prospective legislation.

The Quagmire of Data Collection

daan-stevens-282446-copy-300x191It is a controversial move but one that is considered to be a reflection of the reality that many state governments are not able to sustain the increasing healthcare costs of their citizenry. Chicago is no exception, and its new managed care provisions reflect a need for reform. Recently, the state has amended the law in such a way as to move Medicaid users towards the more affordable managed care options. Like any change, there are political and legal ramifications to this one. Some have argued that the changes are inhumane and could actually constitute a illegal or unconstitutional act. At the moment, the supreme court has not yet fully pronounced itself on the matter.

Meanwhile, the provisions of the law continue to impact the citizens of Chicago. It is particularly onerous for those who are disabled in some way or another. There are benefits to the managed care options, including an investment in infrastructure such as ramps. However, some of the Medicaid users feel that there will also be an additional administrative burden and the possibility of being rejected for full benefits. The changes are based on a public-private partnership model that has been used in other areas of public spending. In this case, not-for-profit organizations such as the Community Care Alliance are given access to some funds and income generating opportunities so that they can provide services that better reflect the needs of the service users.

Practical and Administrative Changes

andreas-weiland-252613-copy-1-300x200It is not only Chicago that is grappling with the issue of self-defense in the law. The public interpretations of the law vary considerably, and some of them are not strictly accurate. This is one of those issues that has the power to raise other polarizing matters such as racial disparities when encountering the criminal justice system. On the other hand, there is a legitimate interest in ensuring that criminals cannot terrorize the wider population on account of the fact that they are the ones with the guns. If they are genuinely frightened for their lives, most reasonable people would agree that property owners have a right to defend themselves. This self-defense argument can go right up to the case of justified killings.

Of course, we cannot always predict what is in someone’s mind. For example, a racist person may shoot any black person they see on their doorstep without any genuine fear. That is when the courts are left in a dilemma. The person may say that they were frightened, but that may mask their true intention. It also does not help that the moment such cases come to the media attention, America is once again divided along class and racial lines. All of a sudden, you have very successful Go-Fund-Me campaigns for the suspect, which makes a mockery of the system and gives the impression that America is an incurably racist society.

Private Property and Private Rights

taduuda-76960-copy-300x200The pension system has been under a lot of scrutiny following a supreme court hearing on the 8th of May, 2015 which came to the conclusion that some of the provisions of the existing law touching on pensioner rights were unconstitutional. Pensions are some of the biggest expenditures for any corporation, especially the government of Chicago.

The legislature had proposed certain austerity measures that were meant to deal with the growing deficit within the pension fund. However, consumers felt that they were getting a raw deal in an arrangement that would mean that they had even less to retire on than before. Public sector workers that already have the golden standard for excellent pensions were some of the most vocal opponents of the new provisions.

The growing crisis of pensions has tasked everyone from trade unions to members of the legislature. At the last time of asking, the pension deficit was in the region of over $100 billion. This is considered to be unsustainable since taxpayers are no longer willing to be liable for a pension system that often exceeds their own private arrangements in terms of costs and even benefits.

andreas-weiland-252613-copy-300x200An economy that relies on the realty market must take an interest in property taxes. Chicago realty law is often dominated by concerns about taxation. That is what is happening in Chicago today. From a legal point of view, the legislation that has been passed and that which is due to be passed is meant to streamline the process of conveyancing. At the same time, these reforms are also meant to ensure that the taxman gets a cut of the largesse. It is not so much a case of the tax increases but the reforms in the procedures. This procedural fairness also incorporates any possible consultations prior to confirming the tax rates as well as the forms that are required.

For most members of the Chicago public, the issue is fariness. Some argue that the increments are just too high. On average, Chicago increases its property taxes on an annual basis. The year 2016 was an anomaly because the legislative reforms meant that some people experienced property tax rises in the region of 32%, a clearly unfair increase by all standards. Some legal experts argued that even if the legislature was determined to increase that amount of money, they ought to have staggered it in order to minimize the immediate impact on property owners and those that transact realty.

Structuring Tax Increments

aidan-bartos-313782-copy-300x200Chicago has been one of the cities at the forefront of confronting the pressing issue of equal pay and conditions. Advocates have been regularly demonstrating in front of the legislative assembly demanding reform. A flurry of laws and legislative amendments have been passed in order to correct historical and current injustices in the arena of work. The only problem is that many ordinary members of the public do not really know the law or even how it is meant to apply to them. The justifications for the amendments range from moral ones to practical ones that speak of the benefits of having a rational pay structure.

The evidence is undisputed; many women in Chicago were paid a fraction of the wages paid to men for the same job. This was not a situation that was unique to Chicago alone. Unequal pay has been in existence from the moment that women joined the formal workforce. One of the provisions of the act is to bar employers from asking about wage and salary history because this is often used to mask the application of unequal pay. Women who have been on the receiving end of a raw deal can end up being trapped in that structure because the current and prospective employer wants to base the pay offer on past wages.

Technical Provisions Within the Law

alyssa-kibiloski-195807-copy-300x200There is no doubt that the enactment of anti-abortion laws is one of the most important cultural war issues in the USA at the moment. Chicago is not insulated from the arguments for and against the practice. At the moment, there are certain prohibitions and exemptions that have developed over time in response to federal law and changes in the popular attitudes to abortion. There is a prohibition on abortions of fetuses that are considered to be viable. This is anywhere between 23 and 24 weeks. Exceptions to the rule are made when there is a risk to the life or health of the pregnant person. At the same time, the state is subject to the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003, which effectively bans certain second trimester abortion procedures including extraction and intact dilation. This ban does not make exceptions for the health of the mother, a rather controversial configuration.

Although Illinois has a Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act, it is not currently enforceable. Other provisions and regulations determine who is allowed and not allowed to administer “abortion care,” as it is sometimes euphemistically called. The current practice is to restrict the right to administer the care to physicians who have a valid license to practice in the state. Others who are allowed to administer medication abortion are advanced practice clinicians including physician assistants and advanced practice nurses. There are strict licensing and regulation requirements. Many of these fall under the Illinois Medical Practice Act. There are other professional statutes that may be applicable in this instance.

Attempts to Control the Practice