chicago politics

Illinois Democrats Push for Ethics Reform as 3rd Senator Faces Federal Charges

Republican lawmakers said Thursday that they've made similar proposals but seen little to no interest

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Following the recent scandal that appears to implicate Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan, a group of Illinois Democrats announced sweeping ethics reform proposals Thursday.

Democratic lawmakers from both the Illinois House of Representatives and the Illinois Senate believe their proposals would dramatically increase transparency and "take meaningful strides" toward restoring public trust in state government, according to a news release.

Lawmakers released a list of nine steps that relate 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

Democrats who announced the ethics reforms said the proposal was not driven by House Speaker Mike Madigan's troubles.

"This isn't about one person in the state of Illinois," said Illinois Sen. Melinda Bush. "This is about the General Assembly, this is about adopting ethics changes that will really address what has been a systemic culture."

Illinois Rep. Chris Welch said he agrees with many of the proposals, but not the one calling to remove leaders unless proven guilty.

"We're not sitting here playing judge and jury..that we have fair processes in place and that we don't put in systems that's going to create witch hunts," he said.

Also on Thursday, State Representative Terry Link was charged with tax evasion, making him the third state senator to face felony charges in little over a year.

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