Capitol350On Dec. 1 the Legislature concluded the fall veto session with no sign of a balanced budget agreement in sight, even as we quickly approach 2017, at which point stopgap funding for universities, local governments and human service agencies will run out.

As I've said numerous times, this situation is completely unacceptable, with tragic consequences for students, seniors, victims of sexual assault and more.

Gov. Bruce Rauner and the legislative leaders have been meeting to discuss the budget, and that's an encouraging sign. I'm calling on all sides to compromise to end this stalemate. However, we must remember that negotiation can only have a successful outcome if no party is asked to violate its core principles.

Unfortunately, Gov. Rauner consistently has sought to tie budget negotiation to unrelated policy battles where there is simply no hope of agreement between Democrats and Republicans.

I will continue my efforts to find a different path forward, one that is consistent with the values of our community. Stay tuned to hear more from me on that front; read on for a summary of some of a few issues we've encountered recently in Springfield.

Read more: An update from Springfield: Veto session wrap-up

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Biss12012016With the State of Illinois sorely in need of a budget, it’s essential for Democrats in the legislator and Gov. Bruce Rauner to find common ground. Unfortunately, it appears he is determined to obstruct any good-government measure that isn’t attached to his political agenda.

The latest example is automatic voter registration, a sensible cost-savings measure that many Republicans backed – until the governor decided they shouldn't.

The concept of automatic voter registration is simple. Eligible voters would be automatically registered to vote when they conduct business with certain state government agencies, such as the secretary of state to renew a driver’s license. People can choose not to be registered, and there are safeguards to protect against fraud.

Essentially, automatic registration creates a convenient opt-out system for voters, rather than the more burdensome opt-in system that most states, including Illinois, currently have. This reform would have enabled us to curb redundant government paperwork, clean up the voter rolls and enable taxpayers to save time and money.

In fact, automatic registration is such a good idea in this fast-paced, technology-driven age that five other states have adopted it, most recently Republican-leaning Alaska, and more are considering it.

Read more: Things are stuck in Springfield. Here's why.

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Biss11152016Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) issued the following statement today following the state Senate’s vote to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of automatic voter registration in Illinois:

“Automatic voter registration is an issue that brought Democrats and Republicans together in the Illinois Legislature in the spring, and it continues to generate bipartisan support all over the country – Alaska being the most recent example.

“I was pleased to join my Senate colleagues in overriding the governor’s misguided veto of this important and sensible legislation. I hope lawmakers in the House will do the same.

“Every day that we carry on with our current, duplicative method of registering voters is another day that taxpayers foot the bill for unnecessary government bureaucracy. Senate Bill 250 has been thoroughly vetted, it makes sense and it should be the law in Illinois.”

Senate Bill 250, the automatic voter registration bill, garnered bipartisan support in both houses of the Legislature in the spring but was vetoed during the summer by Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.

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biss floor may2Despite one of the more gridlocked legislative sessions I've experienced, I was fortunate to pass several bills this year that I'm confident will make a difference in the lives of Illinois residents. You can read more about the below. If you'd like to read my comments about some of the overarching issues of this session, please read my remarks here.

Conversion Therapy
This bill prohibits state licensed mental health professionals from providing so-called "conversion therapy" to minors in Illinois. This discredited practice is meant to change the sexual orientation of the client and can be harmful, even leading to suicide. Views on this topic are changing rapidly, as exemplified President Obama's recent statements opposing conversion therapy, and I'm pleased to move Illinois to the leading edge of efforts to protect our children.

Silver Search
The Silver Search program will give law enforcement additional tools to help locate a missing person who has Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia. As our population ages, more and more people suffer from these diseases, and when such individuals wander off and get lost, every minute can be crucial to bringing them back to safety. I believe that Silver Search will save lives and give comfort to countless families.
Data Security
As technology changes, the corporations hold more and more personal data about all of us. Unfortunately, we have no way of knowing when this data is lost, which can result in severe harm to consumers. This bill requires companies to provide notice when sensitive data about our location or consumer habits is breached, thus restoring Illinois's status as a national leader on consumer protection and data security.

SNAP Expansion
Under this new legislation, Illinois will expanded the threshold under which Illinoisans can qualify for food stamp benefits. This will enable us to capture $60 million from the federal government to feed working families living in poverty, without requiring the state to foot the bill.

Health Care Right of Conscience
This bill amends the Health Care Right of Conscience Act to ensure that patients have complete timely access to medically accurate information, regardless of the religious views of their doctor or hospital -- while at the same time ensuring the health care providers retain their first amendment freedoms. It passed the Senate but not yet passed the House so we still have some work ahead of us.

Pension Payment Intercepts
Any long-term solution to our pension debt problem must include mechanisms to ensure that employers make their full required pension payments -- after all, inadequate pension payments were what got us where we are today. I sponsored a bill to achieve this goal for many of the Chicago and Cook County pension systems, and while it did not become law, many of its provisions did pass in several other bills.

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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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