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Gov. Pritzker Advances Meaningful Ethics Reform Legislation

Press Release - Friday, August 27, 2021

SPRINGFIELD — Governor JB Pritzker advanced Senate Bill 539, an ethics reform package that passed the General Assembly this session. The legislation includes a variety of measures to restrict government officials from lobbying activities, tighten regulations on registered lobbyists and consultants, and expand economic interest disclosures.
To move forward with this important legislation, Gov. Pritzker issued an amendatory veto to correct a technical drafting error. The fix will ensure that the Executive Inspectors General are able to maintain current processes and procedures regarding investigations. The Governor looks forward to working with the legislature on concurrence and pledged to certify the bill once the amendatory veto passes the legislature. Gov. Pritzker is also committed to working on additional legislation that reflects the continued urgency of ethics reform in Illinois - which was laid out as a key legislative priority in his 2020 State of the State Address. The full amendatory veto message is attached.
"Passing real, lasting ethics reform was a top priority of mine going into the 2020 legislative session, and I'm pleased to move forward with an ethics package that includes a number of meaningful changes," said Governor JB Pritzker. "We must restore the public's trust in our government and this legislation is a necessary first step to achieve that goal. I remain committed to making further advancements so the well-connected and well-protected cannot work the system to the detriment of working families across Illinois."
"While more work remains to be done to restore the faith Illinois citizens have in their government," said State Senator Elgie R. Sims, Jr.(D-Chicago). "They demanded real ethics reform like those included in this bill, changes like stopping the practice of legislators using their influence to lobby other governments and working to enact pro-rated salaries for legislators who leave office before the end of their term. Many of the changes included in this bill place Illinois on the path to restoring the faith citizens must have to make our democracy successful."

"This measure offers bipartisan solutions to target some of the worst abuses of power in our state's history," said State Senator Ann Gillespie (D-Arlington Heights). "Our plan closes many of the loopholes that have allowed bad actors to game the system for decades. Our bipartisan team on the Senate Ethics Committee stands ready to continue this vital work to make our government work for everyone, not just a powerful few.

"This ethics package takes a meaningful step toward ending unseemly and corrosive conduct in Springfield," said Ethic & Elections Committee Chairwoman Kelly Burke. "When we talk about restoring public trust in government, our goals are to hold elected officials accountable and instill transparency to prevent misconduct from happening in the first place. While a technical fix is in order, this new law will be the first step in achieving that goal."
"This is a great and necessary first step in reforming our ethics laws in Illinois," said Majority Leader Greg Harris (D-Chicago). "This comprehensive package includes bipartisan solutions to help restore the public's trust in state government. I echo Governor Pritzker and my colleagues in the House and Senate that we must continue working to ensure elected officials and others in power are held to the highest of standards."

Senate Bill 539 includes the following provisions:

• Bans government officials from engaging in compensated lobbying, including:

o State level: Legislators, Executive branch constitutional officers
o County level: elected or appointed county executive or legislative officials
o Municipal level: elected or appointed municipal executive or legislative officials
o Township: elected or appointed township executive or legislative officials

• Strengthens the Lobbyist Registration Act by expanding the definition of ‘officials' and adding ‘consultant' to the definition of compensation that is regulated. 
• Increases transparency of lobbying activities by expanding the persons required to register as a lobbyist and establishing a shorter, two-day deadline for registration. 

• Requires lobbyists to complete ethics training before their registration or renewal is deemed complete (instead of within 30 days).

• Requires lobbyists to disclose consultants and clients no later than two days after a consultant is retained. 
• Restricts appointees to certain offices
from being an officer of a candidate political committee or a candidate with the support of such a committee. Members of the State Board of Elections are also restricted from contributing to candidate political committees.
• Expands and clarifies disclosures required in Statements of Economic Interest, including, among others, government units that benefit the filer, lobbyist registration, and the source of gifts.  
• Bans political fundraising in Sangamon County during session or the day immediately prior to such day, with limited exceptions.
• Strengthens revolving door provisions in the executive branch and establishes such provisions in the legislative branch.
• Empowers the Legislative Inspector General to undertake investigations without obtaining advance approval from the Legislative Ethics Commission.

• Revokes the provision allowing General Assembly members to receive prorated compensation following a vacancy.

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