Editorials

Our View: Ethics bill gets bipartisan support

The bill expands limitations on fundraising efforts, preventing lawmakers from holding campaign fundraisers across the state on any day the General Assembly is in session

A bill to address ethics issues among lawmakers was passed with bipartisan support in the Illinois House and Senate last week.

Our editorial on May 29 called for Democrats to take ethics reform seriously, and they appear to have done that. The measure passed the House 113-5 and the Senate unanimously. Still, Republicans said they wanted the bill to have more restrictions.

“This legislation takes the first steps in addressing some of the most egregious scandals in our state’s history,” said state Sen. Ann Gillespie, D-Arlington Heights, key sponsor of the bill. “While it won’t end corruption overnight, it closes many of the loopholes that have allowed bad actors to game the system for decades.”

The bill creates a requirement for statements of economic interests, requiring all candidates to disclose all personal assets and debts totaling over $10,000, all sources of income over $7,500 per year, as well as any personal relationships with individuals who serve in government or work as lobbyists, according to Capital News Illinois.

The bill further expands limitations on fundraising efforts, preventing lawmakers from holding campaign fundraisers across the state on any day the General Assembly is in session, or on a day immediately preceding session, CNI reported.

The bill also prevents former lawmakers and officers of the executive branch from taking a lobbying job within six months of leaving their public position. Republicans wanted one year.

CHANGE Illinois, the Better Government Association, Common Cause Illinois and Reform Illinois have been unified in saying a serious package of reforms is needed. They want to ban state lawmakers from lobbying local governments; implement a two-year ban preventing former lawmakers from immediately lobbying colleagues; strengthen the conflict of interest disclosure and recusal requirements; and fully empower the Legislative Inspector General to operate independently.

Yes, the bill could be tougher, but it’s better than where we were before. Now let’s hope our lawmakers don’t give us a reason to use the bill’s teeth.