A press release from State Senator Pam Althoff:
Senate passes legislation to bring independence to legislative ethics complaint process
Springfield, IL… Seeking to improve independence and transparency in the way legislative ethics complaints are handled in Illinois, the Illinois Senate approved significant reforms to the Legislative Ethics Commission on May 31.
State Senator Pamela Althoff, co-sponsor of House Bill 138, says the legislation incorporates the suggestions and input of members of the Legislative Ethics Commission, and has received the full support of the Illinois Senate Women’s Caucus.
Notably, the changes advanced in House Bill 138 call for an independent search committee to determine candidates for the Legislative Inspector General role, with members of the committee to be composed of retired judges or former prosecutors.
Additionally, the measure offers the option of hiring a full-time Legislative General, which until now has been a part-time position.
Sen. Althoff says a full-time LIG will increase accessibility and guarantee an LIG is available to quickly vet and act on all complaints filed with the office.
“This legislation is the result of hard work put in by members on both sides of the aisle, and I applaud everyone in the Senate Chamber for their efforts on this,” said Althoff.
“This bill allows anyone who feels they have been harassed, or feels they have fallen victim to some sort of misconduct within the legislative body, has peace of mind in the process and does not fear retaliation.
“For too long, the Capitol building has been the breeding ground for unethical, corrupt behavior.
“I am proud to stand with my colleagues today to finally say, ‘we’ve had enough.’”
Additionally, the legislation does the following:
- Allows the Legislative Inspector General to investigate allegations of sexual harassment, without first receiving approval of the Legislative Ethics Commission.
- Requires enhanced reporting regarding the types of matters brought to both the Executive and Legislative Inspector Generals, as well as enhanced reporting by the Legislative Ethics Commission regarding the number of cases where the Legislative Ethics Commission does not publish reports and situations when the Legislative Ethics Commission refuses to allow an Inspector General to proceed with a complaint.
- Identifies appropriate processes for Legislative Ethics Commission Members to recuse themselves.
- Authorizes the sharing of information about complaints and the investigation process with complainants
- Improves transparency with regard to allegations and investigations by violation category
- Allows for the Legislative Ethics Commission to develop training on topics pertaining to sexual harassment, discrimination and workplace civility, which may be approved to meet the sexual harassment training requirement.
Having been approved unanimously by the Illinois Senate, House Bill 138 moves to the Illinois House of Representative for concurrence.