Police in Illinois would have better guidance about the use of cell tower simulators – or stingrays – and the responsible collection of cell data under legislation that unanimously passed in the Illinois Senate on Tuesday.
Senate Bill 2343, sponsored by Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston), would regulate the police use of cell tower simulators for surveillance. These simulators, more commonly known as stingray devices, act as cell phone towers and trick phones in a particular area into thinking they are connecting to a phone tower operated by a service provider.
Police can use the fake tower to determine someone’s location, the serial numbers of phones in the area and more. In addition to collecting data on targeted individuals, police can collect data on dozens or hundreds of other innocent people in the process as well.
“As advances in technology enable police to more efficiently investigate and solve crimes, it’s important that we help them to know they are following state law and the parameters of the Constitution,” Biss said.
“Additionally, we must adopt measures that help to ensure privacy for citizens who have done nothing wrong but may find that data from their cell phones was collected and stored by law enforcement for no legitimate legal reason.”
Senate Bill 2343 now goes to the House for consideration.
SPRINGFIELD – Senator Daniel Biss’ groundbreaking measure to protect Illinois college students from crushing education debt advanced out of a Senate committee on Wednesday.
Senate Bill 1351 establishes the Student Loan Bill of Rights in Illinois to provide as much protection as possible for student borrowers, a population that frequently is targeted by bad actors in the student loan industry.
“At a time when a quarter of student loan borrowers are behind in their payments, we need to make sure borrowers understand their rights and have access to resources that will prevent them from defaulting on their loans,” Biss said. “I am pleased to work with Attorney General Lisa Madigan on behalf of student borrowers, and I encourage each of my colleagues to support this measure.”
The Student Loan Bill of Rights would help to ensure students and their families receive clear information about the money they borrow for higher education and how their student loans are serviced. Among the protections offered in the legislation:
Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) today called on Gov. Bruce Rauner to seek to renegotiate lucrative interest-rate swap deals that send $6 million in taxpayer money to big banks every month at the expense of Illinois’ poorest residents and struggling college students.
An alarming new report indicates the state of Illinois is engaging in the same kinds of interest-rate swap deals that crippled the finances of the City of Chicago and Chicago Public Schools. So-called “swap” arrangements perversely penalize the state for low interest rates caused by the global financial crisis.
A measure that would bar state government from suing inmates and parolees for the cost of their prison room and board will go to Gov. Bruce Rauner for his signature.
The legislation, sponsored by Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) and Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago), was approved by members of the Illinois House on Wednesday. It previously was approved by the Senate.
“Gov. Rauner has the opportunity to put an end to a practice that is unfair, overly punitive and fails the cost-benefit test. The state collects far less from these lawsuits than it costs to pursue them,” Biss said.
Senate Bill 2465 would prohibit the Illinois Department of Corrections from suing current and former inmates to recoup the cost of their incarceration. Illinois has had a law allowing the state to sue inmates since 1982, but it was rarely used until recently. A Chicago Tribune investigation raised questions about the practice.
Illinois has discretion in determining which inmates and parolees to sue. Most of them are poor and had received modest inheritances or civil settlements involving private matters or their arrest.
The state has recovered about a half-million dollars since 2010, but most of it was from two inmates.
“By pursuing these lawsuits, the state sends the wrong message about what it means for inmates to pay their debt to society,” Biss said. “Rather than encouraging them to make a fresh start when they’re released from prison, Illinois is choosing to push them toward a life of poverty, reliance on government support or recidivism.
“That’s the wrong approach, and I hope Gov. Rauner will see it that way, too.”
SPRINGFIELD – Presidential candidates would have to release five years’ worth of income tax returns before they could appear on the ballot in Illinois under a measure sponsored by Senator Daniel Biss than advanced out of a Senate committee on Wednesday.
Senate Bill 982 also would apply to candidates for vice president. Under the legislation, candidates who don’t comply at least five days before certification of the ballot for the general election would not appear on the ballot.
A proposal by Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) to prohibit the state of Illinois from suing inmates for the cost of their incarceration passed out of committee unanimously this morning.
The legislation, Senate Bill 2465, now goes to the full Senate for consideration.
The bill calls for an end to the Illinois Department of Corrections practice of suing inmates and parolees to recoup the cost of their room and board while in prison.
“This legislation rights a wrong that is being inflicted upon a segment of Illinois’ population that tends to be overlooked or ignored,” Biss said. “I look forward to full passage of Senate Bill 2465.”
Most of the inmates targeted by the state’s lawsuits are poor. In some cases the state sued them after learning they had received modest inheritances or settlements from civil lawsuit involving private matters or regarding their arrest or incarceration.
Read more about the issue.
SPRINGFIELD — Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) issued the following statement about Tuesday's scheduled budget meeting between Illinois' legislative leaders and Gov. Bruce Rauner:
"For the first time in more than six months, Gov. Bruce Rauner will convene a meeting with Illinois’ four legislative leaders on Tuesday.
It's easy to be cynical about such a meeting — painfully easy, in fact. But as we enter the sixth month of the fiscal year with no budget in sight, those of us who are focused on the devastating human consequences of this situation need to hold on to whatever hope we can find.
This prolonged situation has already inflicted untold harm by destroying the state’s vital human services network, by worsening its already bleak financial picture and by marring its fiscal reputation so severely that it will take years to recover.
The damage is evidenced each time a human services provider closes its doors, each time a teenager has nowhere to go to be safe after school and each time a family is turned away for counseling services.
All of this is happening because Gov. Rauner has steadfastly refused to negotiate about the budget until the General Assembly capitulates to his demands to enact a radical anti-worker agenda. The fact of the matter is that this agenda can't pass because a majority of legislators simply don't think support his ideas. That's how democracy works — and Gov. Rauner will only get his way by convincing those of us who disagree with his ideas to change our minds, not by taking innocent hostages.
It’s time for Gov. Rauner to end the stalemate and start negotiating with the state’s elected lawmakers. Illinois needs a budget now. Everything else, including the governor’s anti-worker agenda, must wait."
EVANSTON – Evanston, Chicago and other Illinois cities are doing the right thing in vowing to stand strong against President Donald Trump’s efforts to shame and coerce them for offering sanctuary to immigrants, state Senator Daniel Biss said Thursday.
“President Trump’s actions this week are further evidence that he lacks a moral compass,” said Biss, an Evanston Democrat, in denouncing the president’s executive order pledging to strip federal funding from sanctuary cities around the nation.
“I am incredibly proud of Evanston’s record of reassuring immigrants that they are welcome in our community,” he added. “It’s shameful that a local decision now is under attack by a U.S. president who is committed to dividing people rather than bringing them together.”
Trump signed the executive order Wednesday. Evanston has been a sanctuary city since 2008 but strengthened its local ordinance in November following the presidential election. Chicago has been a sanctuary city since 1985. Cook County also has a sanctuary ordinance.
It’s unclear how much federal funding could be at stake for more than 300 U.S. sanctuary cities, states and counties as a result of the executive order.
“President Trump has presented these municipalities with a choice between money and morality,” he said. “We’re going to stand up to his threats and any attempt to strip them of federal funds. But if they do lose federal dollars, at least they can sleep at night knowing they did the right thing.”
SPRINGFIELD – The Rauner administration’s sudden move to halt its drive to privatize the jobs of 124 unionized prison nurses shouldn’t offer sense of comfort to those whose jobs are on the line, state Senator Daniel Biss said Thursday.
Biss, an Evanston Democrat, noted that Gov. Bruce Rauner reverted to his anti-union rhetoric earlier this month when he said nobody would miss state workers should they choose to go on strike. Previously the governor had expressed support for state workers and ensuring they continue to be paid during the state budget stalemate.
“The Rauner administration did the right thing by putting the brakes on its plan to outsource these prison nurse jobs, but I remain wary of the governor’s motives, particularly given his inconsistent and recently strident anti-union statements. I wouldn’t blame any of these nurses if they aren’t ready to breathe a sigh of relief just yet.”
Biss voted for legislation that would have stopped the administration’s plan to lay off the nurses currently employed by the state in prisons and privatize their jobs with an out-of-state corporation. The administration said the laid-off nurses would have an opportunity to reapply for their positions with the corporation, presumably at lower salaries.
The legislation passed in both houses of the Legislature and made it to the governor’s desk.
The administration intends to reverse its plan to lay off the nurses and continue contract negotiations with them instead, it was announced this morning.
Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) today questioned why a state agency is expanding its payroll while failing to pay hundreds of struggling non-profit agencies that are contracted to provide important services on the state’s behalf.
Officials from the Illinois Department of Human Services revealed during an appropriations hearing that the agency hired about 800 new employees between July and December 2015.
Meanwhile, DHS has not been paying the agencies it contracted with throughout Illinois to provide vital human services for impoverished and underserved people on behalf of the state.
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