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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Biss2017As 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.”

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SenatorBissMarch2017Private equity firms would have to disclose the investment fees they charge to public pension funds in Illinois under legislation sponsored by Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston).

These sometimes lucrative fees charged by private equity firms and hedge fund managers are exempt from disclosure to taxpayers under current state transparency laws. Even the boards that oversee the pension funds are kept in the dark about the fees. That’s ludicrous, Biss said.

“Taxpayers have the right to know what government pays for salaries, pensions, cars, office supplies, phone bills – every penny that goes out the door, down to the most miniscule expense,” he said. “But we make an exception for lucrative pension investment fees paid to private equity firms. It’s indefensible.”

Senate Bill 779 would require pension systems to disclose agreements with private equity funds and certain provisions of those agreements. It also would require private equity fund managers and general partners to disclose certain investment fees paid to the funds.

Disclosures would be published on the pension systems’ websites and would be subject to the state’s freedom of information act. The legislation applies to every retirement system or pension fund regulated by the Illinois Pension Code, as well as the Illinois State Board of Investment.

The Teachers Retirement System, the largest pension system in Illinois, currently has nearly $8.5 billion invested and committed to the private equity asset class. Some funds, such as Downstate Police and Fire Funds, are precluded by law from making such investments.

Senate Bill 779 passed out of the Senate’s Licensed Activities and Pensions Committee Wednesday on a 7-5 partisan roll call.

According to a 2015 ranking by Institutional Investor’s Alpha magazine, the country’s 25 top-earning hedge fund managers raked in an estimated $11.6 billion in 2014. The previous year, the top 25 collectively earned nearly double that, estimated to be more than $21 billion.

Comparatively, the aggregate pay for all of the kindergarten teachers in the nation in 2014 was an estimated $8.5 billion.

Category: Latest

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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