Illinois House Republicans demand special session on ethics, say Democrats’ talk is ‘cheap’

(The Center Square) – Democrats and Republicans at the Illinois statehouse both support proposed legislation designed to address corruption in government through changes to ethics rules, but Republicans want to take them up before the November election while Democrats said the plans can wait until after the election.

Last week Democrats held a press conference laying out a slew of ethics reforms. Those reports included more oversight into lobbyist activities, barring legislators from being lobbyists, restricting the revolving door of former lawmakers becoming lobbyists, term limits on legislative leaders, and various other measures.

State Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago, said there is bipartisan support “and [we’re] looking at in many different ways between now and November when we hope and trust that we will have something that we are going to be able to vote on.”

State Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, led the group of Democrats last week pushing for changes.

“The issue of general ethics reform has been elusive and we think it’s time to act,” Manar said.

Manar and other Democrats stopped short of demanding a special session. The fall veto session isn’t until after the November election.

Several House Republicans on Tuesday said they agreed with many of the reforms Democrats brought forward last week. Some noted many had been proposed by Republicans for years.

State Rep. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, said he worried the cloud of corruption over Democrats, with several under indictment or federal investigation, would make getting a special session called by Democrats more difficult until voters are long gone from the ballot box.

“I think it’s exactly why they’re waiting because they don’t want to deal with these issues and I think if they would show that up in front of the election people would be disgusted with that,” Bailey said.

The lack of urgency is troubling to state Rep. John Cabello, R-Machesney Park, who agreed the various changes are needed.

“Nobody should care that there’s an election coming up,” Cabello said. “When it comes to the reforms that are needed badly in one of the most corrupt states in the union. Talk is cheap. I say no more talk. It is time to get our tails back here and pass real common-sense reforms.”

He said taxpayers deserve to know their lawmakers are cleaning up corruption within Illinois state government.

The reforms lawmakers from both sides are coalescing around touch on lobbyists and legislative leadership oversight.

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