110717 3126Rejecting a move that would have severely weakened the standing of grieving families in the face of misbehavior by insurance companies, the Illinois Senate voted to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of legislation by Senator Jacqueline Collins Wednesday.

The measure, House Bill 302, would further strengthen the Unclaimed Life Insurance Benefits Act by requiring insurance companies to search their records back to the year 2000 if they have electronically searchable files to determine if life insurance policyholders have died, and to take steps to get money to beneficiaries. Rauner’s veto would have shortened the required search period to just five years prior, and would also have disallowed the use of third-party auditors to help in such searches. Under that change, Illinois would have been the only state in the country with such a prohibition.

“I worked closely with Treasurer Frerichs and Representative Martwick to improve this law because grieving families across Illinois did not know about $550 million in unclaimed life insurance benefits, all returned to them through the efforts of auditors that the governor’s veto would have disallowed,” Collins said. “It is easy to lose track of life insurance policies – for our elderly loved ones to lose paperwork in a move or to forget they exist because of the passage of time of the ravages of dementia. I’m glad my colleagues saw, as I did, that the right thing to do is to stand on the side of families who don’t have a small army of financial advisors to handle these issues in the darkest of times. This is not about politics, partisanship, or profit. It’s about doing the right thing.”

The Illinois House voted to override last month. The Senate voted 38-16 to override the governor’s veto. The bill becomes law in 2018.

Governor signs automatic voter registrationOn the 54th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, the governor signed a new law co-sponsored by State Sen. Jacqueline Collins ensuring Illinoisans who are eligible to vote will be automatically registered when they conduct business at state facilities.

Collins worked with representatives of Common Cause Illinois and numerous other activists, advocates and Springfield lawmakers to craft legislation that creates the optional, opt-out system.

“Let us not forget that today marks the 54th Anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, when more than 250,000 gathered at the nation's capital to demand civil and voting rights for African Americans,” Collins said Monday. “In light of their struggle and sacrifice, I view this legislation as the harvest from the seeds of hope they planted beneath that hot summer sun on August 28, 1963.”

Collins said removing barriers to voting is the first step in encouraging more people to exercise their power at the ballot box.

“Your vote is your voice, and now more than ever, that voice matters,” Collins said. “This automatic voter registration system will save the state money and save voters time, and it arose from a bipartisan, democratic process. I want to thank all advocates for their tireless work on this issue and the governor for signing this bill. And I call on all of them to start the next conversation: Challenging potential voters to move beyond apathy.”

Photograph courtesy of Common Cause Illinois.

preferred3To better understand the scope and effects of truancy and absences so officials can address them, a new law will require schools to collect and review chronic absence data. Sponsored in the Illinois Senate by State Senator Jacqueline Collins, the measure was signed into law Friday.

“There are many complex causes behind absences or chronic truancy,” Collins said. “We need to identify those factors and how widespread they are so we can work directly with schools and families to address the root causes of why so many of our children are not making it to class. And I want to thank the bill’s House sponsor, Representative Linda Chapa LaVia for sponsoring this legislation.”

The legislation also encourages schools to provide support to students who are chronically absent. The legislation was House Bill 3139, and takes effect in July of 2018.

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Grieving families who might be unaware their departed loved one left them a life insurance policy would be protected by a stronger Unclaimed Life Insurance Benefits Act under new legislation by State Sen. Jacqueline Collins and Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs that passed the Illinois General Assembly today.

“As our technology and our best practices are updated and improved, we need to consider how that can also improve our accountability to the taxpayer and the consumer,” Collins said. “Dementia might rob an elder of the memory of their insurance policy, and not every grieving family has somebody on retainer to keep such affairs in order. In an age when we can computerize and automate these matters, we owe it to them to make the effort.”

Enacted last year after collaboration between Treasurer Frerichs and Senator Collins, the Unclaimed Life Insurance Benefits Act requires insurance companies to check their policies against a state database to determine whether a policyholder has died, and then to take reasonable steps to ensure the beneficiaries receive their due payout. The new provisions would require companies to reach back into their records and check any lapsed policies back to 2000 to determine if policies were unpaid.

“In Illinois alone, hundreds of millions of dollars have been directly paid to beneficiaries as a result of insurance companies comparing their policies to the Death Master File,” Collins said. “That should show us that this is more than just a question of advocating for consumers. It’s just one way that state government should be fighting inequality in our society.”

House Bill 302 passed the Illinois Senate 36-19 today. It awaits the governor’s signature to become law.

Contact Info

Chicago Office:
1155 W. 79th St.
Chicago, IL 60620
(773) 224-2830

Springfield Office:
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Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-1607

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