Democratic lawmakers propose ethics changes

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Democratic lawmakers in the House and Senate are proposing a nine-bill package of ethics legislation that they want the General Assembly to take up during the veto session later this year.

The group of bills covers lobbying reforms, legislative reforms and leadership reforms. They are geared at addressing ethics issues that have surfaced in recent months as no fewer than three legislators faced federal charges for various alleged wrongdoing.

"We share the very important goal of restoring trust in our state government by making it both more accountable and transparent for the taxpayers and the citizens of Illinois," said Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill.

Manar said he thinks the measures could receive broad support from both Democrats and Republicans in both the House and Senate.

The bills include:

A ban on state legislators also serving as lobbyists.

Ban lawmakers from immediately becoming lobbyists in the General Assembly after they leave office.

Better define what activities are considered lobbying.

Fuller disclosure of outside income earned by lawmakers.

Creating an official censure process for lawmakers who violate ethics laws.

Strengthen the office of Legislative Inspector General.

Establish limits on the time a lawmaker can serve as a legislative leader.

Allow for temporary removal of legislative leaders and committee chairs who are facing criminal charges.

End an exemption from the Human rights Act for employees of the General Assembly.

"The legislature needs a new moral compass," said Sen. Iris Martinez, D-Chicago. "The people have lost trust in the General Assembly."

There were 13 Democratic lawmakers who signed onto the proposals Thursday. They said their ideas are not a substitute for recommendations that are still expected from a commission appointed last year to develop stronger ethics laws.

Republicans have been pressing for stronger ethics laws for months after three Democratic lawmakers ended up being charged with crimes last year. They renewed those demands after federal prosecutors said that Commonwealth Edison gave jobs and contracts to allies of House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, to curry favor with him. Madigan has not been charged with any wrongdoing, has said he’s done nothing wrong and said he’s not pushed legislation favorable to the utility.

This story will be updated.

Contact Doug Fine: doug.finke@sj-r.com, 788-1527, twitter.com/dougfinkesjr

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via The State Journal-Register

August 13, 2020 at 01:29PM

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