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Process over substance

Thursday, Jan 14, 2021

* Thursday morning press release from the Better Government Association, Change Illinois, Common Cause Illinois and Reform for Illinois

On January 12, the Illinois legislature held a hearing and vote on an 87-page ethics bill in the middle of the night at the end of the lame duck session. This bill was introduced in the final hours of the 101st General Assembly with no notice to stakeholders and without the promised public report from the Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform. While the clock ran out on the session before the bill could pass, the process was deeply concerning to those of us who care about open, ethical government. It flew in the face of transparency, did little to remedy Illinois’ reputation as a bastion of closed-room deals and political corruption, and further undermined public trust in state government.

They were in session for a few days after not being in session since May. I get people are all up in arms about the “process,” but I’m much more concerned about the end product on this topic, which was that nothing happened. Back to the release

The bill touched on some subjects we brought to the Commission last year, but it also omitted key issues like conflicts of interest and oversight of legislators. Moreover, it contained provisions, such as the preemption of home rule, that would have dramatic implications for localities, businesses, advocates, and other stakeholders. Yet the bill dropped with no time for meaningful consideration of those serious concerns.

Um, the worse thing is that not even a half-measure was approved. Zero, zip, bupkis. But not a word was mentioned in the release about what was actually in the bill that could’ve done some real good.

There were some much-needed provisions in the measure, like banning Sangamon County fundraisers the day before and after session.

The bill also would’ve prevented legislators from becoming lobbyists for six months after they retired at the end of their terms, or for six months until after their scheduled term ended if they quit early.

And it would’ve prevented sitting legislators from lobbying local governments.

This wasn’t a horrible bill. It passed a House committee with just one dissenting vote. Also, nobody testified against it via Zoom. Maybe somebody should subscribe to a bill-tracking service.

Don’t get me wrong, I fully agree with the groups that a bill should’ve been advanced much earlier in the lame duck session. It was slow-walked and then allowed to die. Not acceptable. But that bill moved through committee late Tuesday night. It’s now Thursday, when it’s too late to do anything about it.

* Meanwhile, here’s the SJ-R on the House floor vote on the Black Caucus’ criminal justice reform bill

To the chagrin of Republicans, all of whom voted against the bill, House Democrats used their control over the proceedings to keep the voting period open long enough for some lawmakers to switch their votes until the minimum 60-vote majority needed for approval was reached.

The horror.

…Adding… To be clear, there’s nothing in the rules in either chamber (and never has been) that mentions a time limit on roll calls. The rules merely require that the Speaker ask three times if all members had voted who wish to vote.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

9 Comments »
  1. - Been There - Thursday, Jan 14, 21 @ 12:14 pm:

    ===There were some much-needed provisions in the measure, like banning Sangamon County fundraisers the day before and after session====
    But thanks to Rep Butler in his debate we learned there is a bar called Boars Nest only 12 miles from the Capitol. Road trip


  2. - Observer - Thursday, Jan 14, 21 @ 12:19 pm:

    ===To the chagrin of Republicans, all of whom voted against the bill, House Democrats used their control over the proceedings to keep the voting period open long enough for some lawmakers to switch their votes until the minimum 60-vote majority needed for approval was reached.

    The horror.=====

    Ironically they didnt mention he speaker in the chair at the time was not a proponent of the bill and even voted against it. On top of that it seemed she kept the vote open longer than normal even after it got to 60 instead of taking the record right away.


  3. - Publius - Thursday, Jan 14, 21 @ 12:26 pm:

    We need to get money out of the system. However the US Supreme Court said companies are people too . There will always be influence when so much money is at stake no matter what you try to fix it.


  4. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jan 14, 21 @ 12:31 pm:

    ===Road trip===

    Yeah, I’ll pass

    https://foxillinois.com/news/local/illinois-bar-owner-faces-sexual-assault-charges

    Also: https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g29290-d4687304-r576232447-Boars_Nest_Bar_and_Grill-Athens_Illinois.html


  5. - Been There - Thursday, Jan 14, 21 @ 12:48 pm:

    ===Yeah, I’ll pass===
    Yikes. I googled the joint but didnt see that story


  6. - Essential State Employee - Thursday, Jan 14, 21 @ 12:58 pm:

    ==But thanks to Rep Butler in his debate we learned there is a bar called Boars Nest only 12 miles from the Capitol. Road trip==

    The bars in Virden, Waverly, Alexander could also be fair game to be hopping post-pandemic with fundraisers.


  7. - Left of the Lake - Thursday, Jan 14, 21 @ 1:00 pm:

    Always prefer substance arguments over process, especially if the process in question is one that has been actively used and outlined for the world to see for years. Move along


  8. - Third Reading - Thursday, Jan 14, 21 @ 1:06 pm:

    Really missing Doug and Bernie.

    Ever wonder what sports coverage would be like if you assigned a football game to someone who’d never watched football?


  9. - ChicagoBars - Thursday, Jan 14, 21 @ 1:29 pm:

    I’d respectfully suggest that, as Chicago Board of Ethics (and me) read it, that the bill would’ve overridden local ethics rules in a number of ways. Could be wrong.

    But passing state legislation during overnight at end of session that would’ve shaken up local ethical restrictions too, is not a good look, or letting the sun shine in as the goo goos say.


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