Biss04272017Voters have the right to know as much as possible about the financial conflicts of interest of men and women who want to be president of the United States, and Illinois could become a national leader in requiring candidates to disclose such information.

Senate Bill 982, sponsored by State Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston), passed 32-19 in the Illinois Senate on Thursday and will go to the Illinois House for consideration. Under the legislation, presidential candidates would have to release five years’ worth of income tax returns before they could appear on the ballot in Illinois.

“This is about transparency and good government,” Biss said. “It’s something we need, and, frankly, it’s something I wish we’d had a year and a half ago.”

Federal law requires presidential candidates to complete financial disclosure forms that include information about income, property, liabilities, investments and certain financial interests of family members, but candidates are not required to release tax returns. Until 2016, major-party candidates for president voluntarily had released their returns since the Ford administration in an effort to appear transparent with voters.

Under Biss’ the legislation, candidates would not appear on the ballot in Illinois if they don’t comply at least five days before certification of the ballot for the general election. It also applies to candidates for vice president.

Biss said voters should be able to look at information about a presidential candidate’s sources of income and investments so they can understand where potential conflicts of interests may lie – a critical consideration for the most powerful elected office in the nation.

“Voters should be able to make up their own minds a candidate based upon their own priorities and their own interests,” Biss said. “I think we can all agree that it is in the public’s best interest to make sure they have all the information they need to make the best possible decision at the polls.”

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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.

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There’s been a lot of attention recently about legislation that I sponsored with State Rep. Christian Mitchell in 2014.

Some have interpreted that law as reducing the amount of time taxpayers had to settle any outstanding debt before tax buyers could purchase the debt. Quite the opposite is true.

First and foremost, the legislation in question extended the amount of time taxpayers have to pay the amount owed before the sale of their tax debt.

Let me share the background about what that measure did and why.

Because of the financial hardships so many people faced after the recession in 2008, the Illinois Legislature temporarily lengthened the amount of time taxpayers had to pay their property tax bills by an additional 12 months. This grace period was set to expire in 2013, after which the payment period was to return to its original length.

The legislation Rep. Mitchell and I sponsored in 2014 lengthened the grace period by three years, meaning that until this spring taxpayers had more time to settle any outstanding debt before tax sales could begin.

What we’re seeing now is the result of a failure to extend the grace period again, which directly affects some Cook County residents.

While I am disappointed there are misconceptions about what this legislation actually did, I am glad we are having a discussion about how programs like these take money from poor and middle-class neighbors and provide what often are excessive margins for the wealthy. It is unconscionable, and we should not only look to make permanent the extension, but also look to curb the high interest rates these families often face as a result of their delayed payments.

In fact, legislation to address the extension already has passed the House (HB155), and I am eager to ensure that it adequately addresses these concerns.

Should you have any questions or need additional information, I encourage you to contact my district office in Evanston at 847-568-1250 or email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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BissCollinsPresserCHICAGO – Two Illinois state senators want to stop car insurers from charging higher premiums to people who live in predominantly minority neighborhoods, a bias that was revealed in a ProPublica-Consumer Reports investigation earlier this month.

The first-of-its-kind analysis, which focused on Illinois and three other states, revealed pricing disparities among car insurance premiums paid by customers based on their ZIP codes.

In some cases, residents in predominantly minority neighborhoods of Chicago paid as much as 30 percent more in premiums than residents in mostly white neighborhoods — a disparity for which differences in risk could not account.

The report noted that the overpricing “may amount to a subtler form of redlining” by the industry, a reference to the denial of services to minority neighborhoods.

“As a mathematician, as a lawmaker and as a person who fights for equality, I am deeply troubled by the questions that were raised in this investigation,” said state Senator Daniel Biss, an Evanston Democrat. “The types of across-the-board disparities described in the report don’t occur by accident. There clearly is a systemic problem that needs to be addressed by the insurance industry and by the government on behalf of consumers.”

Biss and state Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins, a Chicago Democrat, will introduce legislation that prohibits insurers from using a person’s ZIP code as grounds for determining premium rates.

Collins and Biss will amend Senate Bill 1706, which is Collins’ pending legislation to bar insurance companies from using a person’s credit rating to determine how much they should pay for car insurance premiums, a practice that is considered discriminatory to minority and low-income populations but is legal in Illinois.

“This is a pattern of discrimination all too familiar to people of color at every level of modern life,” Collins said. “A fair market demands a level playing field. Stories like this remind us that this requires investigation and regulation. I want to applaud the journalists who brought these unfair practices to light and to commend Senator Biss for helping to strengthen this legislation.”

The ProPublica-Consumer Reports analysis examined more than 100,000 premiums charged for liability insurance in each of the states studied. The analysis was limited to one type of customer: a 30-year-old woman with a safe driving record. Their premiums were compared to the average amounts paid out by insurers for liability claims in each ZIP code.

The findings were alarming. Of the 34 companies analyzed in Illinois, 33 charged at least 10 percent higher premiums on average for the same safe driver in minority ZIP codes than in comparably risky white ZIP codes. Six Illinois insurers had average disparities higher than 30 percent, according to the analysis.

Dory Rand, president of the Chicago-based Woodstock Institute, a nonpartisan policy and research organization focused on fair lending, wealth creation and financial systems reform, said such practices can pose significant financial challenges for people already struggling to get by.

“Auto insurance price optimization schemes discriminate against workers of color and impair workers' economic security by making it more difficult for them to get to work and to meet other expenses,” Rand said.

“Woodstock Institute applauds the ProPublica investigation and the efforts of Senators Biss and Collins and their colleagues in the Illinois General Assembly to bring fairness to auto insurance pricing.”

Critics of the investigation said it was incomplete and oversimplified the way insurance companies set their rates.

 

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Contact Me

District office:
3706 Dempster St.
Skokie, IL 60076
(847) 568-1250
(847) 568-1256 FAX

Springfield office:
417B Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-2119

Email:
biss@senatedem.illinois.gov

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