Biss: A vote for HB40 is a vote for safe women’s reproductive health care

Sen. Daniel BissSPRINGFIELD – Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) issued the following statement today regarding his vote in support of House Bill 40, legislation that ensures women in Illinois continue to have access to important reproductive health care:

“Consider what we know about how President Trump sees America. We know he has objectionable views on women’s autonomy, and we know his administration has been surprisingly eager to scale back laws supporting groups of people who fought hard to earn basic civil rights in the first place.

Biss: Sexual orientation should never be grounds for violence

05042017CM1039Defendants would not be able to use a victim’s sexual orientation as an excuse for seeking a reduced murder charge under legislation that passed unanimously in the Illinois Senate Friday.

Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) sponsored Senate Bill 1761, which is commonly known as the “gay panic defense” bill. Under the legislation, panicking about the discovery, knowledge or disclosure of a victim’s sexual orientation cannot qualify as a mitigating factor for murder.

“Although these types of criminal defenses are rare, they still happen from time to time around the country,” Biss said. “As we continue to take steps to ensure equal rights for those in the gay, lesbian and transgender community, the government must send an unmistakable signal that sexual orientation should never be grounds for committing an act of violence.”

Biss wary of governor’s motives in prison nurse pivot

biss 040517SPRINGFIELD – 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.

Biss: People should not fear going to school or talking to police

biss 040517SPRINGFIELD – As tension grows between the Trump administration and local communities that choose to reject his anti-immigration agenda, it will become increasingly important for states like Illinois to pass laws that reflect local values and protect basic American principles, Senator Daniel Biss said Wednesday.

“People in Illinois should not live in fear of going to school or talking to the local police,” said Biss, a Democrat from Evanston, which has been a sanctuary city where all people are welcome since 2008. “We should not allow children, parents, the elderly and the infirmed to retreat into the shadows because they are terrified that they could be detained and deported by immigration authorities anytime they or their loved ones step out of their homes to go to school or to a clinic.”

Biss is a co-sponsor of Senate Bill 31, which creates the Illinois Trust Act to blunt the impact of federal overreach on immigration matters. The legislation would:

  • clarify that state and local police are not deputized immigration agents and therefore are not expected to expend resources enforcing or complying with federal civil immigration detainers and administrative warrants;
  • prohibit state and local police from searching, arresting or detaining a person based solely on citizenship or immigration status or an administrative warrant;
  • prohibit law enforcement agencies from using state resources to create discriminatory federal registries based on race, national origin, religion or other protected classes; and
  • establish safe zones at schools, medical facilities, courts and properties operated by the Illinois secretary of state, where federal immigration enforcement would not be admitted without a valid criminal warrant.

The measure also would establish deadlines for police to complete certification forms that are requested by immigrant victims of violent crimes who cooperate with police. The certifications are among the requirements for immigrant crime victims to apply for certain visas.

The act would not bar state and local police from conducting valid criminal investigations or serving criminal warrants, nor would it bar them from working with federal immigration agents to serve valid warrants.

The Illinois Trust Act passed out of the Senate Executive Committee today and is expected to be voted on by the full Senate.

“What this legislation says is that Illinois is not OK with the federal government deputizing local police departments to do work they have neither the resources nor the training to do,” Biss said. “It also says Illinois does not condone any effort to catalog human beings based on their race, religion or nation of origin.

“Every day, state and local police throughout Illinois try to foster trust – not fear and suspicion – with immigrants in their communities so that they can protect people, solve crimes and keep the lines of communication open,” he added. “Trump’s deportation rhetoric accomplishes exactly the opposite. That’s not good for America or for Illinois.”

Senator Daniel Biss


9th Senate District

Years served: 2011 - 2012 (House); 2013 - 2018 (Senate)

Committee assignments: Education; Environment and Conservation; Executive Appointments; Human Services; Labor (Chairperson); Revenue.

Biography: Full-time legislator; former University of Chicago math professor; doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and undergraduate degree from Harvard University. Served one term in the House before his election to the Senate. Resides in Evanston with his wife, Karin, and their children, Elliot and Theodore. Co-chair of a bipartisan pensions working group in the House and chair of the Digital Divide Elimination Advisory Committee.