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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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CHICAGO—To respond to recent allegations involving Springfield lawmakers and prevent future wrongdoing, State Senator Elgie R. Sims, Jr. has been named as the co-chair of a new joint legislative commission that will recommend changes to state ethics laws.

“The last several months have seen very troubling developments and the people of Illinois expect us to be and do better,” Sims said. “For the people to have faith in their government we must hold ourselves to the highest of standards, and when public officials do wrong, they should face the consequences. Those are the beliefs that will guide me as I serve on this commission.”

The Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform was formed after the General Assembly passed legislation to create the commission to review the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act, the Illinois Governmental Ethics Act, the Lobbyist Registration Act, the Public Officers Prohibited Activities Act and the Ethics and Disclosure Article of the Procurement Code. The Commission will hold public hearings and issue a final report by March 31, 2020, giving the General Assembly enough time to act to implement reforms before the end of the upcoming spring session.

“It needs to be clear: our government must be held accountable and I look forward to this commission finding ways to prevent the situations which gave rise to recent developments,” Sims said. “I look forward to the opportunity to work with my colleagues in both chambers to come up with solutions which are in the best interest of our state and will make a measurable difference in improving the quality of our government.”

Category: Press Releases

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Governor JB Pritzker, Representative Chris Welch and Senator Elgie Sims released the following joint statement after the NCAA announced they will allow student-athletes to be compensated for their names, images and likenesses:

“It’s clear that student-athletes deserve to have rights in a billion-dollar industry they helped build. After advocating for our legislation in Illinois, the NCAA took a welcome – though overdue – step forward to allow students to be compensated for their names and likenesses. We remain committed to being the voice of student-athletes in Illinois and will monitor this decision to ensure it is fully implemented. Today is a victory for student-athletes around the country who are fighting for fairness and equity, and we will continue to fight alongside you.”

Category: Press Releases

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