In the wake of even more federal corruption investigations entangling multiple layers of Illinois government, Assistant House Minority Leader Grant Wehrli (R-Naperville) is continuing to press the case for comprehensive ethics reform. This morning, Wehrli was joined by fellow members of the House Republican caucus at a Capitol press conference to call on the General Assembly to take up a sweeping package of legislation to tackle the long overdue problem. This is the third such press conference to call for ethics reform in as many weeks.
“How many more times do we need to play this broken record?” said Wehrli. “We stood here two weeks ago to call for the General Assembly to take some basic action to rein in our own bad actors, and as we spoke another influential public official was standing before a judge. There can be no more excuses for inaction.”
At that press conference two weeks ago, Wehrli called for House Bill 361, which dramatically increases the fines legislators face for engaging in numerous restricted activities, to be released from the House Rules Committee. He, and that bipartisan group of legislators, also called for the creation of a State Ethics Task Force through House Joint Resolution 87.
In response to the federal corruption probe that has widened further since two weeks ago, Wehrli and his House colleagues have upped the ante with this new package of legislation introduced at the end of last week.
The ethics package includes:
- House Bill 3954 that will revise statements of economic interests to include more details similar to the information required for judicial statements of economic interest. This forces full disclosure of potential conflicts of interest and provides greater transparency for members of the General Assembly;
- HJRCA 36 will require a special election to fill General Assembly vacancies through the same laws governing party primaries. This will prevent political powerbrokers from picking their preferred candidates for vacancies;
- House Resolution 588 will allow a Chief Co-Sponsor of any bill with five co-sponsors from each party to call it or an up or down vote in a substantive committee;
- House Bill 3947 would ban members of the General Assembly, their spouses, and immediate live-in family members from performing paid lobbying work with local government units. Currently, members of the Illinois General Assembly – state representatives and state senators – are prohibited from lobbying the State of Illinois, but are not prohibited from lobbying local government units, such as a counties or municipalities;
- House Bill 3955 will create mandatory and publicly available documentation of General Assembly communications with any state agency regarding contracts.
Wehrli concluded, “This new package of legislation, in addition to what was previously introduced, is a common-sense set of near-term solutions that we can take up and pass this week to get this reform process moving. More needs to be done in the long-term, but we cannot fail to take action now.”
Wehrli was joined at this morning’s press conference by House Republican State Representatives Tom Demmer (R-Dixon), Ryan Spain (R-Peoria), Dan Brady (R-Bloomington), Amy Grant (R-Wheaton), Mike Murphy (R-Springfield), Deanne Mazzochi (R-Elmhurst) and Tony McCombie (R-Savanna).