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CHICAGO—A plan to give students time off to vote was signed into law on Wednesday.

State Senator Elgie R. Sims, Jr. (D-Chicago) led efforts to pass legislation, which allows students to vote during school hours. This comes after push back from school administrators during a “March to the Polls.” Students from those schools rallied to pass the new law out of committee last year, and some were there to see it signed into law.

“I was proud to stand with the same students who fought for this bill’s passage as it is signed into law today,” Sims said. “It is crucial that voting is accessible to everyone, including our students. Their voices are just as important as state workers’, who already have time off to vote. And of course, I encourage private employers to extend this allowance to their employees wherever possible.”

Senate Bill 1970 amends the Election Code to allow students who are 18 or older to leave school for up to two hours to vote in a primary, general or any other election in the state that requires a popular vote.

The school can decide which hours students can be absent to vote.

The plan is modeled after current rules for employers and employees.

“Together we are breaking down a barrier that has long made it difficult for our young people to make their voices heard during elections,” Sims said. “I hope this will excite students throughout the state and encourage them to take their civic duty as voters seriously.”

The new law will be effective on June 1, 2020.

Category: Press Releases

 

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State Senator Elgie R. Sims, Jr. released the following statement after State Senator Don Harmon was sworn in as president of the Illinois Senate Sunday:

“I want to congratulate my colleague and friend on being elected Senate President. President Harmon has shown his dedication to the people of Illinois by working tirelessly on tough issues, including gun dealer licensing and the fair tax amendment.

"I look forward to continuing to work together to ensure we are taking steps to ensure that our communities are safe, we are promoting job creation and our young people are receiving a quality education.”

Category: Press Releases

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CHICAGOAcross Illinois on a daily basis, people are likely being paid to lobby governments without ever having to register as lobbyists or disclose any information.

It’s a reality that emerged Wednesday from the Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform. Illinois state government, the city of Chicago and Cook County are the main entities that require lobbyist registration and disclosure. But there are hundreds of units of local government throughout Illinois. By and large, those entities have no such lobbying requirements.

“I think it’s naïve for anyone to think those are the only three places where lobbying is going on,” said Senator Elgie R. Sims, a joint commission co-chair. “If the public has the right to know in these jurisdictions, why shouldn’t it know everywhere else? We need a more holistic approach to lobbying throughout Illinois, because it seems to me there’s a lot probably going on in the dark right now.”

For instance, commission members heard testimony regarding a DuPage County requirement that is largely unenforced and other counties that abandoned the issue after court challenges.

State leaders responsible for recommending ethics reform after recent scandals held their second hearing Wednesday in Chicago on the Lobbyist Registration Act. The first hearing in the series focused on rules and protocol for the committee.

In response to ongoing federal investigations, the General Assembly created the joint commission for the purpose of recommending reforms to ethics laws.

At Wednesday’s hearing, the commission heard testimony from various witnesses regarding lobbying registration, including the City of Chicago, Illinois Municipal League, Illinois State Association of County Chairs, the Secretary of State’s office, and good government groups including the Better Government Association, Center of Illinois Politics, Change Illinois, Common Cause and Reform for Illinois.

While they detailed lobbyist laws and procedures that are in place in a few jurisdictions, it was acknowledged that there are no such requirements in the vast majority of cities, counties, school boards, park districts and other government entities.

Joining Sims as co-chair of the commission was State Representative Greg Harris (D-Chicago).

“It is clear that we need more transparency in lobbying throughout Illinois,” Harris said. “It is important that we know exactly who the lobbyists are, who they work for and who they’re lobbying, so that we can ensure there are no conflicts of interest to ultimately prevent wrongdoing.”

The next joint commission hearing will focus on the Illinois Governmental Ethics Act.

The commission faces a March 31 deadline for delivering recommendations to the General Assembly.

Category: Press Releases

 

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CHICAGO— Co-Chairs State Senator Elgie R. Sims, Jr. and State Representative Greg Harris have called the first hearing of the New Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform for Monday, December 23 at 10 a.m. in Room 16-503 of the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago. At the hearing, the Joint Commission will discuss the framework including the rules, protocols, and future meetings.

During the recent veto session, the General Assembly passed legislation to form the Joint Commission for the purpose of recommending reforms to ethics laws after recent allegations concerning state and local officials and lobbyists.

Who: Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform

What: Hearing to establish Commission framework

When: 10:00 a.m., Monday, Dec. 23

Where: James R. Thompson Center, 100 W Randolph St., Chicago, Room 16-503

“I look forward to this bipartisan, bicameral discussion to address ethics issues at all levels of government,” Sims said. “Together we can find serious solutions to help make it clear to the public that their state leaders are being held to the highest standard of the law.”

“We need to rebuild trust with the people of Illinois, and this commission is a strong step in repairing that relationship,” Harris said. “It’s time for Democrats and Republicans to come together and show those who elected us that we can set aside politics and begin to find solutions.”

 

Category: Press Releases

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