Biss2016Noting that a diverse and educated population provides a boost to Illinois’ economy, Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) voted Wednesday to allow the state to offer financial aid to some undocumented college students who’ve come to Illinois in search of opportunity.

Senate Bill 2196 would allow undocumented students who meet the conditions necessary to be recognized as Illinois residents for tuition purposes to be eligible for state-based financial aid at Illinois’ four-year public universities.

“When people cross Illinois’ state lines and choose to make their home here, our lives, our culture and our economy improve – whether they come from Kenosha or St. Louis, Paducah or Gary, the East Coast or the West Coast, Mexico, South America, Poland, Asia or Africa,” Biss said.

“If we want to benefit from the economic growth that comes with immigration, we have to make educational opportunities available for those who cross our borders. I think this bill is an important statement about who we are as a people in Illinois and who we believe ourselves to be. It’s also a sensible economic step that will help our future substantially.”

Senate Bill 2196, also called the “Student Access Bill,” passed in the Senate and will move to the House for consideration. Senator Iris Y. Martinez of Chicago is the primary sponsor; Biss is a co-sponsor.

The measure does not require the state to increase spending for higher education or create a new scholarship program. It simply gives public universities the authority to offer financial aid to more students.

Should it become law, an estimated 1,500 students from Illinois’ four-year public universities would be eligible for new scholarship opportunities.

Senate Bill 2196 is an initiative of the University of Illinois in conjunction with the Latino Policy Forum. Former Gov. Jim Edgar, other elected officials, public universities, business and civic leaders, faith-based leaders, labor unions and non-profit organizations back the legislation.

Category: News

Police in Illinois would have better guidance about the use of cell tower simulators – or stingrays – and the responsible collection of cell data under legislation that unanimously passed in the Illinois Senate on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 2343, sponsored by Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston), would regulate the police use of cell tower simulators for surveillance. These simulators, more commonly known as stingray devices, act as cell phone towers and trick phones in a particular area into thinking they are connecting to a phone tower operated by a service provider.

Police can use the fake tower to determine someone’s location, the serial numbers of phones in the area and more. In addition to collecting data on targeted individuals, police can collect data on dozens or hundreds of other innocent people in the process as well.

“As advances in technology enable police to more efficiently investigate and solve crimes, it’s important that we help them to know they are following state law and the parameters of the Constitution,” Biss said.

“Additionally, we must adopt measures that help to ensure privacy for citizens who have done nothing wrong but may find that data from their cell phones was collected and stored by law enforcement for no legitimate legal reason.”

Senate Bill 2343 now goes to the House for consideration.

Category: News

I am pleased to be featured in a new documentary about the retirement savings crisis that is unfolding in the United States, and I encourage you to check it out.

The film, "When I'm 65: Rethinking Retirement in America," was produced by Detroit Public TV.

Retirement savings in America are not keeping pace with longer life spans at a time when prosperity is harder to come by and people increasingly find themselves moving from job to job during their working years. About 75 million Americans don't have access to employee-sponsored retirement savings plans. And for many, saving for retirement is just out of reach.

"It's not like you can just show up at 65 and sort of figure, 'Oh, what am I going to do about this the next 30 years?" said Cindy Hounsell, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Women's Institute for a Secure Retirement, who also is featured in the film. "You need to be figuring it out all along."

Pensions with defined benefits are being replaced by do-it-yourself savings plans with defined contributions, which can be difficult and intimidating for people who must determine how much of a nest egg they'll need for retirement and how to achieve it. According to a statistic cited in the documentary, 21 percent of people believe winning the lottery is the best chance they'll have at saving enough money to retire.

As I note in the film, these are big questions that deserve serious attention. Americans are dramatically underprepared for retirement, and it's a developing crisis.

In early 2015, I sponsored the Secure Choice legislation that Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law, making Illinois the first state to enact an automatic retirement savings law. Secure Choice will enroll small business employees by default into IRAs through payroll deductions, giving them access to affordable retirement savings accounts. It allows people to start saving now for the future and offers them the opportunity to live with dignity in their golden years without the help of taxpayer-funded health care, housing and more. Thirty more states are developing their own version of this legislation. Read more about it in this New York Times article from 2015.

 

Category: News

SenatorBissSenator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) issued the following statement about Illinois’ budget stalemate:

“Illinois desperately needs a sustainable state budget solution that is balanced and fair. Clearly, the Legislature and Gov. Rauner are not in agreement yet on what that means.

“Until we’re able to find common ground, we shouldn’t stand by and watch the slow, painful destruction of many of the things that make us a proud and compassionate state – namely, our network of human service providers and our enviable public universities and community colleges.

“We must do what we can today to save these institutions as we work together on longer-term reforms to stabilize Illinois’ future.

“Today I voted once again to give Gov. Rauner the ability to send promised and critically needed state money to human service providers, universities, community colleges and others who are on the verge of closing their doors or losing their jobs because of the state budget stalemate. I don’t want to see Chicago State University, Catholic Charities or any other vitally important institution close its doors. I can’t imagine the governor wants to see that happen either.

“I urge Gov. Rauner to sign Senate Bill 2046. It would enable him to offer some relief to victims of the budget stalemate while buying him time to work with Democratic and Republican lawmakers on shared priorities for the state.”

Category: News

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Email:
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