Coalition introduces ethics reform legislation package


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (Nexstar) – A coalition of both House and Senate Democrats wants to change how Illinois state government operates.

They introduced a package of ethics reform legislation in the midst of a long running Federal probe into the state house.

“Very few of the items on this list are new,” Democratic Representative Kelly Cassidy said. “Many of us have been working on these issues for a long time. So it is not so much why now, but instead why still.”

The list of proposals include a lot of familiar ideas. It includes ideas to stop lawmakers from leaving their elected position and immediately entering the private sector as lobbyists, and increased transparency for lawmaker income. Similar ideas have been brought up in the past, with Republican lawmakers filing bills nearly a year ago. Those efforts did not go anywhere though.

The list also includes a call for term limits for Legislative leaders, and a way for either chamber to remove leadership if they are involved in a criminal investigation.

Republicans proposed several bills over the past year with similar goals to what the coalition outlined Thursday, but they did not go anywhere. House Republican Grant Wehrli said that he is happy to have democrats on board, but doesn’t think they should get too much credit.

“Am I glad they are finally here, yes. But they are not coming willfully. They have been kicking a screaming for years to get to this point,” Wehrli said. “So let’s not pat them on the back to much for finally getting enough profile and courage to do what’s right.”

The coalition also praised the work of the Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform, which was supposed to have a report on ethical issues in the legislature as well as possible policy fixes completed in March, but that deadline was delayed due to the pandemic. The report is still not out, and the commission has not met officially since March 5th.

Senator Elgie Sims co-chairs the commission. He said the commission expects to meet sometime in the near future, but would not give a set date for either meeting, or for when the commission will drop the report.

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