In the wake of the numerous, ongoing federal investigations involving bribery, influence peddling and insider-trading impacting state government officials and lobbyists, a broad coalition of lawmakers gathered Aug. 13 to announce its support for nine specific ethics reform measures that they believe could receive bipartisan support in the upcoming veto session.
Democratic lawmakers from both the Illinois House of Representatives and Illinois Senate said their proposals would dramatically increase transparency and take meaningful strides toward restoring public trust in state government. Specifically, lawmakers point to nine steps that relate directly to the activities of lobbyists, legislators and General Assembly leadership:
1. Prohibit legislator-lobbyists.
2. Stop the legislator-lobbyist revolving door.
3. Better define who is a lobbyist.
4. Fuller disclosure of outside income.
5. Establish an official censure process.
6. Measures to strengthen the office of legislative inspector general.
7. End the exemption for General Assembly employees from the Human Rights Act.
8. Establish term-limits for Legislative leaders.
9. Establish a process for removal of leaders and committee chairs.
"The time has come to change the culture in Springfield and we believe these proposals will be a major step forward in that effort," said state Rep. Kelly Cassidy ( D-Chicago ) in a statement. "Our system is broken and we need to fix it and I'm proud my colleagues have come together to demand change."
Recognizing the need for serious ethics reform, the General Assembly and Gov. JB Pritzker created the Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform, consisting of 16 members appointed by the governor, the four legislative leaders, the attorney general and the secretary of state.
The commission was charged with holding hearings and issuing a report and recommendations by March 31. Although hearings began early this year, the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed the commission's work and final report.
The following lawmakers support the nine proposals as part of a legislative package: Cassidy, state Sen. Melinda Bush, state Rep. Daniel Didech, state Rep. Mary Edly-Allen, state Sen. Sara Feigenholtz, state Sen. Laura Fine, state Rep. Robyn Gabel, state Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz, state Rep. Lindsey LaPointe, state Sen. Kimberly Lightford, state Sen. Andy Manar, state Sen. Iris Martinez, state Rep. Bob Morgan, state Rep. Jonathan "Yoni" Pizer, state Rep. Delia Ramirez and state Sen. Heather Steans.