CollegeGraduateSenator Daniel Biss’ groundbreaking measure to protect Illinois college students from crushing education debt advanced out of a Senate committee on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 1351 establishes the Student Loan Bill of Rights in Illinois to provide as much protection as possible for student borrowers, a population that frequently is targeted by bad actors in the student loan industry.

“At a time when a quarter of student loan borrowers are behind in their payments, we need to make sure borrowers understand their rights and have access to resources that will prevent them from defaulting on their loans,” Biss said. “I am pleased to work with Attorney General Lisa Madigan on behalf of student borrowers, and I encourage each of my colleagues to support this measure.”

The Student Loan Bill of Rights would help to ensure students and their families receive clear information about the money they borrow for higher education and how their student loans are serviced. Among the protections offered in the legislation:

  • Requires student loan services to provide specialized employees to assist borrowers with questions about loan payments, explain repayment options and evaluate a borrower’s financial situation to determine which payment plan is appropriate.
  • Requires loan servicers to give borrowers accurate information on billing statements and properly process borrowers’ payments, and bars servicers from charging unreasonable fees.
  • Requires loan servicers to tell borrowers when and how their federal loans may be discharged due to a borrower’s disability or a problem with the school the borrower attended.
  • Requires loan servicers to provide information so cosigners know the conditions of being released from their obligations.
  • Requires servicers to follow procedures when a loan is transferred to a new servicer to ensure continuity and ensure borrowers’ payments are properly handled.
  • Ensures borrowers have the right to request information and file account disputes with their servicer and appeal any servicer determination.
  • Creates a student loan ombudsman in the office of the attorney general to assist borrowers with student loans.
  • Establishes a student loan servicing license with the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation to qualify, oversee and discipline services for violating the Student Loan Bill of Rights.
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A measure designed to narrow the gender wage gap in Illinois advanced out of the Senate’s Labor Committee Wednesday.

Senate Bill 981, sponsored by Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston), would prohibit Illinois employers from asking job applicants about their salary history, a practice that perpetuates gender discrimination and wage inequality.

“If you’re an employer who prides yourself on not discriminating against your workers but you base starting pay on what they earned at their last job, they may be perpetuating the wage gap,” Biss said.

Women in Illinois make up nearly half of the workforce but earn just 79 cents for every $1 that men earn. For women of color, the wage gap is wider – Black and African-American women earn 63 cents on the dollar to white men; Hispanic and Latina women earn just 48 cents.

Illinois women who work full-time lose nearly $20 billion every year because of unequal pay, meaning less money for their savings, for spending on basic goods and services and for investing back into the local economy.

“We have a troubling wage gap in Illinois and across the country that is unfair and unacceptable. This legislation attempts to confront the problem at its source – during negotiations between a job applicant and a potential employer,” Biss said. “Every time an employer bases a woman’s starting salary on what she made at her previous job, they’re ensuring that she never catches up and that we never close the gap.”

Wednesday was International Women’s Day.

Biss also is the sponsor of Senate Bill 1721, the Family Leave Insurance Act, which would offer up to 12 weeks of paid family leave for employees to recover from serious health conditions, care for a child or other family member, or spend time with a newborn or adopted child within any 24-month period. Employees would receive two-thirds of their average weekly wage, which would be funded through a 0.3 percent payroll deduction.

The legislation is assigned to the Senate Labor Committee.

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WeThePeopleFor many Americans, this is a time of unprecedented political uncertainty and fear.

Every day, we hear new reports of constitutional rights under attack. We're seeing discrimination based on skin color or gender, on religion or mother tongue, or simply based on a cruel guess about who is vulnerable and unable to fight back. Many of these threats originate with the very people who were elected to protect and uphold our constitution.

It’s as important as ever that we understand our civil liberties and know how to fight back against attacks like these – for ourselves and for those who need our protection.

Please join me for an important public seminar next week about the major challenges and threats to our civil liberties today and to learn what we can do to protect our rights under the new federal administration.

What: Protecting Our Civil Liberties free public seminar
When: 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 27
Where: Unitarian Church of Evanston, 1330 Ridge Ave., Evanston

I am co-hosting this event with state representatives Robyn Gabel and Laura Fine. Joining us will be representatives from civil rights organizations the American Civil Liberties Union, the Illinois Coalition for Immigration and Refugee Rights, Equality Illinois and Planned Parenthood.

The event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited and we strongly suggest that interested guests reserve a spot by calling my district office at 847-568-1250 or by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

I hope you will join me for this important discussion and spread the word to others who may be interested.

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SPRINGFIELD – When it comes to the state budget crisis, Gov. Bruce Rauner continues to be unwilling to lay out a clear plan, Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) said today after the governor’s budget address to the General Assembly.

“Gov. Rauner’s top priority has been to protect billionaires like himself who refuse to pay their fair share. This leaves him with only unpalatable options like harmful cuts to key programs and tax increases on the middle class,” Biss said. “Faced with this choice, Gov. Rauner has decided to duck responsibility and deflect blame.”

Biss noted that Illinois is at a fiscal crossroads after two years of Rauner’s budget stalemate with the legislature.

“The pressure on the governor to act is immense, but it’s clear to me that he has no ideas about how to proceed. He’s hoping the legislature will do his job for him,” Biss said.

“It’s time to move forward. We must demand that Gov. Rauner and his billionaire friends stop running government for their own benefit and pay their share so that we can all prosper.”

Category: Latest

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:
biss@senatedem.illinois.gov

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