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.

001collinsState Senator Jacqueline Collins made the following statement after voting yesterday for a spending plan designed to break the destructive state budget impasse and fund crucial anti-violence measures such as afterschool and early childhood development programs, Teen REACH, and funding for universities and community colleges that also includes MAP grant funding:

“I acted today to do what my constituents and all Illinoisans have demanded: To bring an end to the disorder and negligence caused by the lack of a state budget. Government’s first duty is to safeguard all of its citizens,” Collins said. “In that duty, we have been irresponsible for more than two years. Now is the time to take responsibility. With each passing day, there are those for whom it will be too late. Now is the time for the House and for Governor Rauner to come together on a budget.”

Article VII, Section 2SPRINGFIELD – State Sen. Jacqueline Collins, D-Chicago, issued the following statement following the governor’s budget address today, in which he called for more State Police to patrol the highways surrounding the city of Chicago.

“Without a budget, the state loses $11 million a day. That cost is too high a price for our students and our seniors to pay,” Collins said. “In three years, we have yet to see a balanced budget from the Governor. The issues of term limits and worker’s compensation have nothing to do with proposing and presenting a budget.

“The State of Illinois is teetering on financial ruin and instability. It is the Governor’s duty under the Illinois Constitution to present a budget. The rhetoric espoused by the Governor today originated in an alternative universe peppered with alternative facts.

“Governor Rauner’s proposal does nothing to address the violence within Chicago, but simply seeks to wall it off from the outside. It’s a tone-deaf move that further distracts from the fact that the Senate continues to do his job for him. It is his duty under the Illinois Constitution to present a budget, not the Senate’s.”

Senator Collins with Jayden Triplett and Marion Jones.CHICAGO – State Sen. Jacqueline Collins and State Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia joined members of the new Attendance Awareness Campaign to announce the group’s attendance awareness mission.

Collins, one of the co-sponsors of the bill creating the state’s Attendance Commission, spoke about Illinois’ four year study into the causes and effects of chronic absenteeism among students in Chicago and throughout the state.

“Journalists and observers have found compelling links between chronic absenteeism and run-ins with the law,” said Collins, D-Chicago. “We need to acknowledge the importance of this issue and recognize that there are many causes of it that go far beyond kids just not wanting to go to class. By fighting to give our students opportunities, we are fighting to end violence.”

“The Attendance Awareness Campaign was created by the Illinois Attendance Commission in an effort to support a statewide paradigm shift to focusing on student attendance and  messaging that every student counts and every day is precious and indeed matters “ said Antoinette Taylor, a consultant with Exceptional Needs and the Attendance Commission Chairperson.Senator Collins and Representative Chapa LaVia

Taylor also screened the Attendance Awareness PSA Every Student Counts: Every Day Matters
About the importance and impact of attendance, which will be available starting Jan. 18 for the public to share and help spread word of the campaign.

Photographs courtesy of Hurley Green III.

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