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

Innovative approach would provide retirement security at no cost to state or businesses

040914cm1346SPRINGFIELD —State Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) secured Senate passage today of the Illinois Secure Choice Savings Program Act, an innovative solution to the private sector retirement security crisis. More than 2.5 million Illinois workers — more than half the state's private sector workforce — do not have access to retirement savings plans through their employers.

"We're facing a looming retirement security crisis: 2.5 million Illinois workers lack access to employer-sponsored retirement plans," Biss said. "Unless we act now to help give Illinois residents the tools to save, the number of retirees living in poverty will continue to grow. The Secure Choice program will have a minimal impact on the state and participating businesses, but the effect for workers will be the difference between a retirement in dignity and a retirement in poverty."

Secure Choice would give portable savings accounts (similar to traditional IRAs) to all employees of businesses with 25 or more workers that have been in existence for at least two years and don't already offer retirement plans. Other businesses could participate voluntarily. Automatic withdrawals would invest three percent of workers' paychecks in their accounts each pay period, but any employee could change their contribution rate or opt out at any time. Participants would also be able to select from higher-risk and lower-risk investment options.

Neither the state nor employers would contribute to Secure Choice retirement accounts; pooling the individual accounts would simply allow for lower fees and diversified, professionally managed investments. All administrative costs would be covered by participant contributions. Businesses would not be responsible for running or funding the program, nor would they be liable for the performance of their employees' investments.

"We know that automatic enrollment is the only way to ensure that workers, particularly those in low-wage occupations, don't retire into abject poverty," Biss said. "Establishing these portable, low-risk accounts is the most efficient and least intrusive way to help hard-working Illinois residents safeguard the dignity of their later years. It's also a solution that puts little to no burden on the state or employers."

Category: Press Releases

040814 js 1751SPRINGFIELD — The Senate has approved a measure, sponsored by State Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston), aimed at balancing basic privacy rights with legitimate public safety needs by requiring law enforcement officers to obtain warrants before using GPS data and other location tracking devices in a criminal investigation.

"Location tracking is just one of many technologies that have advanced rapidly beyond the capacity of existing state law to regulate their use by law enforcement," Biss said. "This legislation doesn't hamstring law enforcement as they appropriately utilize these tools to carry out their mission of protecting the public, but it does affirm the constitutional protections that have always limited police activity and government surveillance."

Senate Bill 2808 would allow 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 would be 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.

SB 2808 will now move to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Category: Press Releases

Committee approves Biss’ private sector retirement savings plan

State Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) presents Senate Bill 2758 to the Senate Executive Committee on Thursday at the Capitol. The bill would establish Illinois Secure Choice, which would enable the 2.5 million Illinoisans not currently in a retirement plan a means to save for the future.SPRINGFIELD — Today, State Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) presented legislation to address the looming retirement security crisis in the private sector, winning a Senate committee’s approval to bring the plan to a vote of the full Senate. In Illinois alone, over 2.5 million workers — more than half the private sector workforce — do not have access to a retirement savings plan through their employer.

“With private sector workers, especially low-wage workers, increasingly lacking access to retirement plans, Illinoisans face a severe and growing risk of retiring deep into poverty,” Biss said. “The Secure Choice proposal is the only solution that gives workers a safe, portable and affordable way to save and invest while placing only a minimal burden on government and businesses.”

Through Biss’ Illinois Secure Choice proposal (Senate Bill 2758), most employees who do not already have access to an employer-based plan would be given savings accounts similar to traditional IRAs. New businesses and those with fewer than 10 workers could participate voluntarily. Workers could choose how much of their paychecks to invest and could opt out at anytime. Participants would also be able to select from higher-risk and lower-risk investment options.

Unlike pension plans, Secure Choice accounts would not be funded or guaranteed by the state or employers. Pooling the individual accounts would allow for lower fees and diversified, professionally managed investments. All administrative costs would be covered by participant contributions, and businesses would not be responsible for running or funding the program.

“There is a national retirement security crisis, and more than a dozen states are currently implementing or considering a variety of solutions,” Biss said. “Illinois has an opportunity to be at the forefront of offering a low cost and innovative program that would allow our citizens to maintain dignity and quality of life after they leave the workforce.”

For more information, pdfclick here for a Secure Choice fact sheet (right-click and select "Save Target As..." to download)

Previously: Secure Choice vital for many Illinoisans retirements

Category: Press Releases

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