SPRINGFIELD — State Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) secured passage today of legislation that would require law enforcement officers to obtain a warrant before using a drone to gather information. If approved by the House, Senate Bill 1587 could become the first law of its kind in the nation.

"The technology available to law enforcement agencies is evolving rapidly," said Biss, sponsor of several privacy measures this session. "I want Illinois to take a proactive approach — recognizing that drones can make police work more efficient and keep officers out of harm's way, but also acknowledging the potential threat they pose to individual liberties."

A law enforcement officer seeking to use an unmanned aerial vehicle would have to demonstrate probable cause and obtain a warrant, just as officers must now do before searching a home. Law enforcement agencies would also be required to disclose drone ownership; currently, there is no way to know how many drones are in use in the state and who owns them. Biss' measure includes exceptions allowing a drone to be used without a warrant to film traffic accidents and crime scenes on public property and to search for missing persons.

"This measure enjoys bipartisan support because lawmakers on both sides of the aisle understand privacy to be a fundamental American value," Biss said. "Today we've passed a piece of legislation that effectively balances the right to be left alone with the legitimate contributions drones may make to public safety."

RELATED: Biss seeks freedom from drone surveillance

Category: Press Releases

Senators, activists rally for amendment overruling Citizens United

State Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) speaks at a rally for the Coalition to Overturn Citizens United. SPRINGFIELD — A bipartisan group of state senators is calling on Congress to send states a constitutional amendment that would overrule the Citizens United decision and allow states to impose limits on campaign contributions, including from corporations. Yesterday, dozens of grassroots activists rallied in support of Senate Joint Resolution 27 and lobbied their members for reforms they believe are needed to reduce the influence of money in politics and encourage ordinary citizens to participate in the electoral process.

"Most Illinoisans intuitively understand that when it comes to free speech, corporations and individuals aren't created equal," chief sponsor Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago) said. "But our hands are tied by a Supreme Court decision that severely limits our ability as lawmakers to take on a culture of corruption that saps our state's democratic energies."

"Last November, 74 percent of Kane County voters supported reversing the Citizens United ruling," Sen. Karen McConnaughay (R-Elgin) said. "Today I'm proud to stand in agreement with my constituents. We need to tilt the balance of power back toward the people by limiting the overwhelming influence of corporate entities."

"Self-government is not only a right but a responsibility, and we're responsible for maintaining a system that encourages more citizens to participate rather than concentrating power in the hands of the few and the wealthy," Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) said. "Turnout in municipal and off-year elections is already abysmal; people perceive the power of a single vote pales in comparison to the tremendous influence of corporate dollars."

"I do not believe the current system is working in the best interest of the voters," Sen. Pamela Althoff (R-McHenry) said. "Our electoral process is lacking in transparency and accountability at every level of government. The federal courts shouldn't constrain state action on campaign financing at precisely the moment when we need so desperately to put our own house in order."

Category: Press Releases

biss0417SPRINGFIELD — State Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) convinced a key Senate committee today to advance his plan to abolish the electoral boards that decide whether challenged candidates stay on the ballot. If signed into law, Senate Bill 1689 would assign the controversial panels' duties to county election officials.

"Our ballot access process should be as transparent and easy to navigate as possible, so newcomers and outsiders don't find themselves at a disadvantage," said Biss, whose interest in election reform also prompted him to co-sponsor a resolution urging the overturn of the Citizens United campaign finance decision. "The current system, with its unnecessary and inefficient proliferation of boards stocked with incumbents, favors candidates who already know how to play the game."

Leading up to this spring's municipal elections, the Chicago Tribune weighed in on some of the more questionable decisions made by local electoral boards. These ranged from disqualifying a new political party whose name contained an ampersand to removing a candidate whose petitions were deemed too loosely bound together with a paper clip. Seated on local electoral boards are long-serving incumbents prone to conflicts of interest that may not violate state law but could still affect the outcome of a ballot access dispute. Current school board members rule on school board challengers, for example, and current aldermen rule on challenges brought against town council candidates.

"It makes no sense to leave a candidate's fate in the hands of people with vested interests in the future makeup of a board or council," said Biss, who worked with Cook County Clerk David Orr to craft the legislation. "The change I've proposed will weaken the role of partisanship in ballot access decisions and promote a more streamlined, professional process."

The Senate Executive Committee recommended SB 1689 to the full Senate, which could vote on it as early as this week.

Category: Press Releases

biss0403Senator Biss, along with state Rep. Robyn Gabel, will hold a town hall meeting at 7 p.m. April 4 in Evanston. They will update constituents on what's happening in the General Assembly and discuss the state's major issues before heading back to Springfield for the second half of the legislative session. Here are the event details:

  • What: Legislative town hall meeting
  • When: 7 p.m. April 4
  • Where: Parasol Room, Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center, 2100 Ridge Ave., Evanston

 

Reservations aren't necessary, but feel free to contact Sen. Biss at (847) 568-1250 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you have any questions.

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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:
senatorbiss@gmail.com

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