Ethics/lobbying commission misses deadline
Tuesday, Mar 31, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller
* Press release…
State Senator Dan McConchie (R-Hawthorn Woods) and State Senator John Curran (R-Downers Grove), the Senate Republican Caucus’s representatives on the Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform, have released the following statement about the commission’s missed deadline to report to the General Assembly.
“When we began the critical work of the Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform, no one could have anticipated the challenges we would face due to COVID-19. As a result of these unprecedented circumstances, and due to our inability to meet in person, we will not meet the March 31 deadline for submitting our draft report.
“Illinois residents should know that this delay in no way negates the critical work our commission was doing, nor does it mean our need for ethics reform has fallen on the wayside. Rather, we look forward to the time when we can all meet again and fulfill our goal of submitting recommendations to bring real ethics reform to Illinois. ”
…Adding… Hannah Meisel at the Daily Line actually had the scoop this morning and I somehow missed it…
The commission has not met since March 5, even though it planned to meet once more before the deadline set for Tuesday.
Commission co-chair House Majority Leader Greg Harris (D-Chicago) told The Daily Line on Monday staff from all four legislative caucuses had begun drafting a report.
“Clearly, we’re not going to be able to finish by the 31st,” Harris said of the original March 31 deadline for the report. “We’re looking at different options at how we’re going to conclude our work. Given the fact that the legislature can’t meet or convene hearings to submit a public document, we’re just trying to figure out among the caucuses and stakeholders how exactly we’re going to do that.”
The commission discussed changing the laws covering everything from lobbyist registration to the power — or lack thereof — of the legislative inspector general.
…Adding… Press release…
Rep. Greg Harris and Sen. Elgie Sims – co-chairs of the Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform – released the following statement Tuesday regarding ongoing efforts to enact meaningful ethics reform in Illinois:
“The COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated that we all put the health and safety of our state and our communities first. The Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform remains committed to our task of developing recommendations for meaningful reforms to the way lobbyists and elected officials conduct themselves. We have completed our meetings, heard from stakeholders and are working through the proposals that have been put before us. However, due to the ongoing crisis, more time will be necessary to complete our work. We still hold the goal of completing our work and contemplating any potential legislation during the spring legislative session as long as the health and safety of those involved are not put at risk. We look forward to working with our Republican colleagues and others on the joint commission to complete our work and begin restoring trust in government.
“We all want to thank the doctors, nurses and first responders who are working tirelessly to fight this deadly virus, and all those putting their lives in danger to ensure our loved ones stay safe and healthy.”
A report from the joint commission was initially due by the end of March, but that deadline was established before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
…Adding… Leader Durkin…
Since its inception, the Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform has conducted six public hearings, took testimony from 38 witnesses and has received extensive feedback from stakeholders. Its work was nearly complete with the only task remaining of issuing a final report.
Our caucus does not concur with an open-ended completion date for a report. Reps. Wehrli and Windhorst requested reasonable date extensions for its completion knowing the unprecedented circumstances we are all facing, but those requests were denied.
Without a scheduled end date, this Commission will likely meet the same fate of the many failed task forces that have come before it.
We should not forget why this Commission was created and the critical need for ethics reforms in Illinois. The House Republican Caucus views ethics reform as essential and should be taken up, alongside the operating budget, as soon as we are back to work in Springfield.