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No ethics, no license

No ethics, no licenseSPRINGFIELD – Imagine you are visiting your about a serious condition. You talk to a health-care professional and decide to wait and get a second opinion. A few weeks later, you receive a bill in the mail for thousands of dollars of medical procedures you never underwent.  You may have just become the latest victim of health care fraud. Senator Daniel Biss (D – Evanston) has passed legislation to help prevent this from happening to anyone again.

A prospective new law automatically and indefinitely suspending the license of convicted fraudulent health-care workers has passed the General Assembly. The effort is another protection for health-care patients being advanced through the Illinois Senate by Sen. Biss this year.

Another battle against hunger won in a SNAP

biss-snapSPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Senate voted today by a vote of 34-17 to increase access to the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps). Illinoisans earning 165 percent of the Federal Poverty Level will now be eligible for these benefits, up from 130 percent, the lowest permitted by federal law.

"Expanding access to SNAP benefits is a no-brainer," said state Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston). "We have the opportunity to give this lifeline to more hard-working families in Illinois, and because it's completely federally funded, it is fiscally responsible even in our current difficult budgetary situation."

The legislation, Senate Bill 1847, also classifies a household that includes an elderly, blind, or disabled person as eligible to be considered for these benefits if the household's gross income is at or below 200% of the nonfarm income poverty guidelines.

This is all part of a larger effort led by the Shriver Center to help the working poor feed their families and respond to the Rauner Administration’s stated desire to maximize Illinois’ access to federal funding. About 2 million Illinois residents received SNAP assistance in November of last year, and according to the Shriver Center, the prospective new law would have a fiscal impact of $1 million to the state.
 
Federal regulations state that SNAP recipients can use their assistance to buy most food items and plants and seeds to grow food, but cannot use the SNAP benefits to purchase hot prepared foods or non-food items, such as diapers.

The measure now goes to the House for discussion and may still be subject to federal approval.

Biss shedding light on identity theft

biss-idtheft-passesSPRINGFIELD - Companies today are collecting extraordinary amounts of sensitive data about consumers, and while we know that this data is being analyzed, utilized, and sold, we have no way of finding out whether it is being lost. Legislation passed out of the Senate today that will safeguard personal information in Illinois.

This data protection legislation requires companies to have reasonable security measures to protect location, marketing and health data from breaches. It also requires disclosure of breeches to consumers and to the Attorney General so that we can understand when data is being lost, and how much.

"Companies collect an incredible amount of data about their customers, in complex and extremely sensitive ways," said state Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston), sponsor of the legislation. "We are at risk of having personal information about our location, purchasing habits, and health disclosed in harmful ways, and so it's critical we take proactive steps to provide for disclosure and transparency about data breaches so as to protect our personal information."

Senate bill 1833 also enables small businesses to notify local media, rather than state-wide media, when breaches occur. The legislation also holds businesses accountable by requiring them to establish reasonable security measures to safeguard sensitive personal information and display privacy policies prominently on their  websites and apps that collect personal information.

The measure now goes to the House floor for consideration.

Biss: No place in enlightened society for gay conversion therapy

biss-conversionSPRINGFIELD — In support of a press conference held yesterday by Equality Illinois, other legislative and government leaders and professionals of the mental health community, Senator Daniel Biss (D – Evanston) released the following statement in opposition to gay conversion therapy and in support of a legislative effort to ban such practices.

"Conversion therapy," a practice that seeks to change sexual orientation of gay, lesbian or bisexual individuals, can cause anxiety, mental illness, trauma and suicide. I stand with Equality Illinois, Representative Kelly Cassidy, and many other state and national leaders and organizations in strong opposition to this practice that is harming youth in Illinois.

Many professional organizations of mental health professionals are strongly opposed to this practice because they deem it to be dangerous. It is crucial that we enact legislation as soon as possible to protect our citizens, especially minors, from this risk. It is time for the state of Illinois to stand with President Obama and leaders and experts from across the country and stop putting our children directly in harms' way.

I am delighted to be carrying this bill, and I will continue to fight for the rights and health of the LGBTQ community in Illinois, and to keep our children safe, just the way they are.

Senator Daniel Biss

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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.