Biss100SPRINGFIELD —State Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) was preparing for a panel discussion he held Tuesday on technology and privacy when the governor signed his legislation requiring law enforcement officers to obtain a warrant before using information from the GPS in a person's phone or other device.

"This is one of many areas where technological advances have suddenly made possible unprecedented intrusions into what most people would consider their private lives," said Biss, who has taken the lead on updating state law to account for innovations in law enforcement technology. "The law signed today, along with the legislation we've passed to regulate the domestic use of drones, acknowledges the important role new technology can play in protecting the public, while at the same time drawing a line to preserve reasonable expectations of privacy."

The location surveillance legislation, introduced as Senate Bill 2808, allows law enforcement to obtain a tracking order — similar to a search warrant — if they have probable cause to believe obtaining current or future location information from an individual's electronic device is needed to solve a crime or prevent a crime from taking place. In the absence of a tracking order, information collected through electronic surveillance is inadmissible in court.

The legislation contains exceptions for emergencies such as responding to a 911 call, locating a missing person believed to be in danger or keeping track of a parolee or other person ordered by a court to wear an electronic monitoring device. It also clarifies that police and prosecutors may still make use of information already available to the public, such as locations posted publicly on social media.

The new law takes effect immediately.

Category: Press Releases

030514 js 0078SPRINGFIELD — Legislation proposed by State Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) to put additional limits on the use of drones by law enforcement became law today. The measure expands on the privacy protections of the Freedom from Drone Surveillance Act, which Biss sponsored last year.

"It's important we continue to develop and refine our regulations on these types of technologies as they advance," Biss said. "This new law expands on our approach of balancing the basic right to privacy with the potential to use technological advances to improve public safety."

Last year's drone law, which was one of the first of its kind, prohibits police from using an unmanned aerial vehicle without a search warrant except in certain clearly defined emergency situations. The new law, which was introduced as Senate Bill 2937, clarifies that in the absence of a warrant, individuals and businesses cannot be obligated to give information collected by privately owned drones over to the authorities. Drones are best known for their military capabilities, but law enforcement agencies, corporations and private individuals have begun purchasing smaller, unarmed versions for a variety of purposes.

The law signed today allows law enforcement to acquire information from a privately owned drone without a warrant if necessary to prevent a terrorist attack, imminent harm to a person or the escape of a suspect; to collect images of a crime scene or traffic accident scene or to locate a missing person. It also states that law enforcement agencies may use their own drones to survey damage and help coordinate relief efforts in a natural disaster or public health emergency.

Category: Press Releases

Gives Metropolitan Water Reclamation District additional options on local projects

mwrd-150x150SPRINGFIELD — Cook County flooding legislation sponsored by State Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) became law today, giving the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District greater flexibility to address local problems. The MWRD, which operates in suburban Cook County, administers regional stormwater projects along major waterways; the district is now authorized to work on localized flooding problems and even purchase and remediate flood-prone properties in cooperation with their current owners.

"Flooding and related damage are on the rise in Cook County, and the MWRD's capabilities must keep pace with the problem," Biss said. "This law is now on the books because of the perseverance of some of my constituents who came to me seeking a better way for government to intervene on behalf of property owners when floodwaters threaten."

Current law allows the MWRD to use suburban Cook County's stormwater management levy for regional stormwater facilities. The new law, which was introduced as House Bill 3912, allows this revenue to be utilized for local stormwater projects, including voluntary buy-outs of properties whose flooding issues cannot be resolved except through returning the land to an open, permeable state.

The measure takes effect immediately.

Category: Press Releases


052714CM0293SPRINGFIELD — State Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) was pleased today with the Senate's passage of his legislation removing unnecessary barriers to working as an engineer or architect in Illinois.

"These professionals help build safe, high-quality infrastructure and are a key part of the highly-educated workforce that consistently attracts businesses to the state," Biss said. "Doing away with redundant requirements and unnecessary delays in the licensure process will improve our business climate and show we are a state that welcomes global talent."

Current Illinois law requires applicants for architecture, engineering and structural engineering licenses who are native speakers of languages other than English and obtained their degrees outside the United States to pass the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Biss' legislation allows this requirement to be waived when the applicant has earned a subsequent advanced degree in the United States. Such students must pass the TOEFL in order to be admitted to U.S. graduate programs in the first place and, by successfully completing advanced courses taught in English, have already proven their English language competence. Requiring these architects and engineers to pay to retake the TOEFL or order and wait for proof of their scores presents a hardship that serves no public purpose and may cause some to accept employment elsewhere.

Biss is grateful for the support of numerous architects and engineers who currently live and work in Illinois, as well as the South Asian Research and Policy Institute, the Structural Engineers Association of Illinois, the Asian American Coalition of Chicago, the Association of Chinese American Scientists and Engineers, the Philippine Engineers and Scientists Organization and the Hispanic American Construction Industry Association.

The legislation, House Bill 4535, will now go to the governor, whose office is also supportive of the measure.

Category: Press Releases

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