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.

Category: Press Releases

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.

Category: Press Releases

040914cm1277SPRINGFIELD — Legislation State Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) sponsored to strengthen the privacy protections of the Freedom from Drone Surveillance Act has received House approval and is on its way to the governor's desk.

"As conversations about this new technology have gone forward, we've all learned more about its potential benefits and drawbacks," said Biss, who spearheaded last year's successful push to make Illinois the first state in the nation to regulate drones. "I'm confident that the law we are now fine-tuning will protect Illinois residents' civil liberties but also enable the use of some very valuable tools for law enforcement and disaster response."

The law Biss sponsored last year prohibits police from using a drone (an unmanned aerial vehicle capable of taking photographs and recording audio and video) without a search warrant except in certain clearly defined emergency situations. The legislation the Senate passed in March and the House approved today clarifies that unless a judge has issued a warrant, individuals and businesses cannot be required to hand over to the authorities information their privately owned drones collect.

Senate Bill 2937 does allow law enforcement to acquire information from a private drone without a warrant if necessary to prevent a terrorist attack, imminent harm to a person or the escape of a suspect; collect images of a crime scene or traffic accident scene or locate a missing person or disaster victim.

The legislation passed both legislative chambers without opposition and will become law if signed by the governor.

Category: Press Releases

040914 js 0106SPRINGFIELD — State Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) secured Senate passage today of legislation that would crack down on "patent trolling" – the practice of extorting money from businesses by threatening to sue them for fictitious violations of patents that may have expired or may not be owned by the "trolls" at all.

"As we consider ways to make it easier for businesses to operate in Illinois, it makes sense to ensure that our laws prohibit scams that cost them money and valuable time," Biss said. "Small businesses, unable to afford protracted legal battles with would-be scammers, are particularly vulnerable."

The legislation, Senate Bill 3405, prohibits a variety of activities engaged in by patent trolls, such as misrepresenting one's self as the owner of a patent, seeking to enforce an expired patent, falsely claiming to have filed a patent lawsuit or falsely accusing a person or company of a patent violation with the intent of forcing a settlement. A violation would be a business offense punishable by fine or civil penalty.

Next, the House will consider the measure.

Category: Press Releases

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