While the number of ethics reforms filed by Republicans in the Illinois statehouse continue to stack up, the clock is running out for anything to pass by the end of the week.
Thursday is the last day of session this year. While Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, said it’s possible for some reforms to pass in one day, he wants more time to review the proposals.
“I’ve mentioned before we should have some kind of a joint committee or something at a minimum and see if we can pass any low hanging fruit, but that’s something that hasn’t been negotiated yet,” Cullerton said Wednesday.
He said something will pass this week, but didn’t elaborate.
There have been no hearings on any reforms despite Republicans filing more than half a dozen bills. Republican state Sen. Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington, dismissed the idea of a task force coming together before the end of the week.
“The General Assembly has a history of using task forces as nothing more than a mechanism to delay and defer and distract the public from the reforms that are very real and able to be implemented now,” Barickman said.
Earlier this summer, state Sen. Tom Cullerton, D-Villa Park, was charged with embezzling from a labor union. He’s pleaded not guilty and remains in office. Also earlier this summer, the feds raided the offices of state Sen. Martin Sandoval, D-Cicero, as part of an investigation into an alleged kickback scheme. Sandoval has not been charged and remains in office. Last month, state Rep. Luis Arroyo was arrested and charged with bribing a state senator. He’s pleaded not guilty but resigned from office.
Asked where the urgency is of getting ethics reforms passed given it’s been weeks since two state lawmakers were charged with federal crimes, Senate President John Cullerton said nothing has been negotiated yet.
“I can’t answer the question any better than that,” Cullerton said. “I don’t have a final version to tell you about. We’re not stalling. We’re trying to agree but we haven’t come to an agreement yet. People have different opinions.”
State Sen. Dan McConchie, R-Hawthorn Woods, said some easy reforms include giving the Legislative Inspector General the ability to investigate alleged lawmaker wrongdoing without having to go to a body of lawmakers for permission.
“We’ve heard no response in regards to that,” McConchie said. “I think at the end of the day it’s part of restoring the public’s trust is ensuring you don’t have the fox guarding the hen house.”
Republicans filed another measure Wednesday that prohibits a member of the State Board of Elections from also contributing to or being an officer of a political committee. That’s on top of a slew of other reforms they’ve filed in the past few weeks. Other measures include restricting lawmakers from being lobbyists, creating special elections for office vacancies, and creating stiffer penalties for certain ethics violations.