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.”

Category: Latest

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

The Rauner administration is trying to privatize nursing in Illinois’ prison system, Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) said Wednesday.

Biss’ comments were prompted by word that the Rauner administration is outsourcing the jobs of 124 prison nurses employed by the Illinois Department of Corrections to a private company. The unionized nurses are represented by the Illinois Nurses Association, and their layoffs are effective June 15, according to a March 18 letter from the administration to the association announcing the changes.

“This appears to be nothing more than a back-door attempt to get around Illinois’ ban on privatizing prisons,” Biss said. “Gov. Rauner is offering up another failed policy that looks like it came straight out of the Trump White House.”

Illinois banned private prisons in 1990. The General Assembly declared that “the management and operation of a correctional facility or institution involves functions that are inherently governmental.” However, the privatization ban does not apply to ancillary services, such as medical care.

“Just last week, Gov. Rauner tried to insist he had the best interests of state workers at heart. This week he’s laying off 124 nurses employed by the state,” Biss said. “The only interests I think Gov. Rauner has at heart are those of his business friends who can make money off state government.”

Category: Latest

Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) issued the following statement today regarding a House committee’s overwhelming support for creating an elected school board for Chicago Public Schools:

“Chicago’s is the only public school district in Illinois that does not have an elected school board. It’s time that we bring basic democracy to the state’s largest school district. I look forward to supporting this measure when it comes over to the Senate from the House.”

Category: Latest

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