Butler, House Republicans Press Ethics Reform Package

From left to right: Republican Leader Jim Durkin, Rep. Tom Morrison, Assistant Leader Tim Butler and Deputy Leader Tom Demmer.

As the growing mire of public corruption in Illinois continues to worsen, Assistant House Republican Leader Tim Butler (R-Springfield) joined Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) and others to introduce a package of sweeping ethics reform legislation. The House Republican caucus announced the package at a press conference in Chicago this morning.

“It is no secret that Illinois has had public corruption problems for a long time, but it has reached a new and even more concerning fever pitch,” said Butler. “This package of legislation is a practical offering of near-term solutions the General Assembly can act on next week during veto session. We can then, and should, pursue more long-term reforms in the coming spring session after more evaluation and discussion is able to take place.

“Time is of the essence though. If veto session ends without any action, it will be two months before the regular session reconvenes and that is completely unacceptable given the circumstances.”

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 for 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. 

“These ethics reform bills are common sense, and a direct response to the wrongdoings we have learned from the current federal investigations,” Durkin said. “I am calling on the legislative leaders and the Governor to support these initiatives and begin moving them forward next week so they can become law.”

As Butler and Durkin referenced, these measures are common sense, near-term solutions that can be taken up quickly by the General Assembly during the final week of veto session. Butler noted that he also hopes to see House Joint Resolution 87, which forms the State Ethics Task Force, taken up next week as well, so more reforms for the long-term have a pathway for action.

Bulter and Durkin were joined at the press conference by Deputy House Republican Leader Tom Demmer (R-Dixon) and State Representative Tom Morrison (R-Palatine). The General Assembly is scheduled to begin the second week of veto session on November 12, 2019.