NEWS

Ethics bills fail to move

Dana Heupel, State Capitol Bureau

LAYER:

Legislation now before the Illinois General Assembly that deals with major ethics reforms includes:

* House Bill 1, which would prohibit business owners with more than $25,000 in state contracts from contributing to the campaigns of officeholders awarding the contracts. It also would require contract bidders to disclose past contributions to the constitutional officer awarding the contracts and would prohibit state officers, employees and their spouses from profiting from state bond deals.

Status: Passed House, now in Senate Rules Committee.

* House Bill 8, which would give the secretary of state’s office investigative powers and the authority to enforce existing lobbyist disclosure laws. It also would require public disclosure of lobbyist activities and billings by lobbyists. Former executive branch officers and employees would have to wait one year before they could lobby their former agencies. And it would require a delay of several months before anyone could leave the General Assembly and lobby on legislative matters.

Status: In House Rules Committee.

* House Bill 824, which would require the state treasurer to post information about state investments on the office’s Web site. A pending amendment would add “pay-to-play” language similar to HB1. It also would add some of Senate Bill 1305’s provisions requiring pension systems to fall under the Illinois Procurement Code and includes language from Senate Bill 157 concerning the transparency of inspector general investigations.

Status: Amended version in Senate Executive Committee. If passed by full Senate, would go to House.

* House Bill 3497, which would limit the amount that any individual, political action committee or political party could contribute to candidates and political party PACs. For instance, an individual could contribute up to $3,000 to statewide candidates and $1,500 to candidates for the General Assembly in each election cycle.

Status: In House Rules Committee.

* Senate Bill 151, which would allow the public to see investigative reports of the executive inspector general and the legislative inspector general, with some sensitive information redacted. It would require the executive inspector general to provide results of all investigations to the Executive Ethics Commission.

Status: In Senate Rules Committee.

* Senate Bill 222, which would create a system of voluntary public financing for Appellate and Supreme Court election campaigns. Participating Supreme Court candidates would receive $750,000 in public financing. Appellate Court candidates would get $250,000. Outside fundraising would be capped, as would personal contributions. Candidates would have to meet various conditions to participate. Public funds would come from a voluntary income tax check-off, an additional $1 collected from court fees and voluntary donations.

Status: Passed Senate, now in House Rules Committee.

* Senate Bill 157, which would require the executive inspector general to provide summaries about newly opened investigations to the Executive Ethics Commission. It would not provide any new public information.

Status: Passed Senate, amended and passed in House, now in Senate Rules Committee.

* Senate Bill 1305, which includes the “pay-to-play” language from HB1. It also would require public retirement systems and pension funds to follow the provisions of the Illinois Procurement Code. It would prohibit consultants and lobbyists from representing investment managers unless they meet certain criteria and would prohibit paying contingency fees to lobbyists of pension boards. It would limit the use of no-bid emergency purchases, require the executive inspector general to inform the Executive Ethics Commission of active investigations and expand the Illinois Whistleblower Act to protect employees of local governments, school districts, community colleges and state universities.

Status: Passed Senate, amended and passed in House, now in Senate Rules Committee.

Sources: Illinois Campaign for Political Reform (www.ilcampaign.org), Illinois General Assembly (www.ilga.gov).