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Biss tightens county ethics laws

Legislation expands on law he sponsored last year applying ethics act to county board appointees

051914 js 0778SPRINGFIELD — State Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) has secured passage of legislation that expands an ethics law he sponsored last year. That law applied state ethics requirements to individuals appointed by a county board chair or president to serve on any governmental body. The measure approved today applies these ethics rules to appointees of any member or members of a county board.

"Anything we can do to eliminate loopholes in Illinois' ethics laws improves public confidence in government," Biss said. "This legislation is one more way of ensuring that the opportunity to serve comes with the responsibility to behave ethically and honor the public trust."

The State Officials and Employees Ethics Act includes gift bans and prohibitions on the use of public time and resources for political activities.

House Bill 4208 has now passed both chambers and awaits the governor's signature.

Biss’ local gov’t efficiency legislation advances

Measure would create a procedure for units of government to consolidate, save money

051914 js 0359SPRINGFIELD — State Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) successfully asked his Senate colleagues today to approve a new procedure allowing units of local government to consolidate, potentially providing services more efficiently and saving tax dollars.

“Current law allows for the creation of street light districts, cemetery maintenance districts and other taxing bodies, but no way to combine them, even when their own governing boards believe consolidation would provide better value to residents,” said Biss, who has championed local government efficiency measures in the past. “The aim of this legislation is to remove barriers to consolidation while allowing these decisions to be made locally and openly.”

House Bill 5785 would allow 13 types of local government bodies, from county historical museum districts to tuberculosis sanitarium districts, to consolidate with adjacent districts or be annexed by a city or county. A majority of the members of the governing board or authority of each governmental unit involved would have to vote in favor of the change during a public meeting. Employees of the district being consolidated or annexed would be transferred to the new authority and would retain all labor and contractual rights.

“No state has more taxing bodies than Illinois,” Biss said. “If government units themselves believe their independent existence is unnecessary and that the taxpayers would be better served by a more efficient arrangement, the state legislature certainly shouldn’t stand in the way.”

The House of Representatives has already approved the legislation, but HB 5785 must return to the House for one more vote before going to the governor’s desk because the Senate added a minor amendment.

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.