IL Senate Republicans Call For More Comprehensive Ethics Reforms

By Benjamin Cox on May 18, 2021 at 3:53pm

State Sen. Jil Tracy speaks in the Blue Room on Monday to reporters about ethics reform.

Illinois Senate Republicans revealed a comprehensive ethics package in a press conference at the Capitol.

47th District State Senator Jil Tracy who is the Senate Minority Leader and also sits as the number 2 chair on the Senate Ethics Committee unveiled an amendment to Senate Bill 1350.

Tracy says it’s time to give the Illinois Judiciary more power to prosecute lawmakers who break the law. She says Illinois residents are tired of having the state identified with corruption. The Illinois Senate is gearing up for a debate over a package of ethics reforms, possibly as early as this week, but it’s one that Republicans say doesn’t go far enough.

Senate Bill 4, which moved out of the Senate Ethics Committee on April 21st, is a package written largely by legislative Democrats that would enact new rules governing lobbying in Springfield during days the General Assembly is in session, campaign fundraising, who can serve on political committees, attempt to end revolving door lobbying, and change the operations of the General Assembly. Tracy was joined by Republican State Senator and Senate Ethics Committee Minority Spokesperson John Curran , and Illinois Senate Republican Leader Dan McConchie saying that SB 4 doesn’t go far enough, and counter-proposed their amendment to S.B. 1350.

SB 1350 would allow the Illinois Attorney General expanded use of statewide grand juries. Current Illinois law only allows the statewide grand jury to be utilized in cases of drugs, gangs, and child pornography. SB 1350 empowers the AG to use a statewide grand jury to investigate cases of public corruption and streamlines the process by providing the AG with a tool currently only available to federal prosecutors. This simple change would empower the Illinois AG to investigate corruption in Illinois without depending on the federal government and FBI to investigate and make charges.

The bill also amends the state’s RICO law to allow State’s Attorneys the authority to use wiretaps to investigate crimes of public corruption. Under current law, wiretaps are prohibited in public corruption cases. The legislation also provides more independence and power to the state’s Illinois Legislative Inspector General by giving the LIG the ability to issue subpoenas without consent from the General Assembly’s Legislative Ethics Commission.

Additionally,SB 1350 would ban legislators from lobbying other branches of state government or units of local government for compensation. The legislation would also require that legislators wait at least one full year, or until the end of the current General Assembly, between when they leave office and when they become a lobbyist – whichever is longer. The legislation also places restrictions on the use of campaign funds for legislators who become lobbyists or who are appointed to an office requiring Senate confirmation. The provision would ensure that legislators’ campaign funds cannot be used for personal financial benefit in lobbying or to assist in securing a lucrative appointment.

The amendment to Senate Bill 1350 was referred to the Assignments committee on Thursday. 50th District Senator Steve McClure along with 16 other Republicans are listed as co-sponsors on the bill.