General Assembly passes commonsense, necessary ethics reform

June 1, 2021

Illinois Policy Institute experts say lawmakers must pursue additional anti-corruption measures

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General Assembly passes commonsense, necessary ethics reform

Illinois Policy Institute experts say lawmakers must pursue additional anti-corruption measures 

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (June 1, 2021) — The Illinois General Assembly voted today to pass an ethics package that takes an important first step in reforming Illinois’ culture of corruption.

Senate Bill 539 includes expanded financial disclosure requirements for legislators and bars lawmakers, executive constitutional officers, and elected officials of units of local governments from being employed as lobbyists while in office under certain circumstances. It also mandates lawmakers must wait a short period before becoming lobbyists once leaving office. The bill now moves to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s desk for signature.

Analysis of the package finds:

  • The bill language allows for a lawmaker to retire from the General Assembly and become a lobbyist six months later. Most states require a cooling off period from between one and two years.
  • The legislative inspector general now has power to open investigations of complaints without the approval of lawmakers on the ethics commission within a year of the incident.
  • Lawmakers are required to provide expanded financial disclosure documents, however they are not required to disclose the interests of close family members, creating potential loopholes that could prevent politicians from revealing conflicts of interest.

Amy Korte, vice president of policy for the Illinois Policy Institute, offered the following statement:

“Voters have demanded changes to reform public corruption that stop lawmakers from playing by different rules than everyone else. The passage of this bill is a start to delivering on the basic anti-corruption measures the people of Illinois deserve.”

“Many components of this ethics package are reforms we have supported for years. Not only should Gov. J.B. Pritzker sign the bill into law, lawmakers should keep finding ways to make Illinois fairer.”

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