SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WMBD) — Republican members of the Illinois Senate on Monday introduced a bill they said will combat public corruption.
“We are here to restore the people of Illinois’ faith in our government,” said State Sen. Jil Tracy (R-Quincy).
Senate Republicans introduced more than 12 corruptions bills since last year, but “to date none of these bills have been allowed a hearing,” she said. Senate Bill 1350 is the culmination of several bills and revisions to current law, “that will add more tools to the toolbox to fight corruption.”
“These are ideas that could protect the people of Illinois from corruption and they deserve to have discussion, discourse, and then attention and action,” Tracy said.
Senate Bill 1350 would give Illinois’ Attorney General the power to use statewide grand juries to investigate public corruption, a power that is currently limited to drugs, guns and child pornography.
“Transparency is the key to ethical lawmaking … We must unleash the resources of the Attorney General’s office in combatting public corruption,” said Sen. John Curran (R-Lemont).
Curran said Senate Bill 4, a similar proposal by the Senate Democrats, does not go far enough.
“Our proposal strengthens the measures found in Senate Bill 4, and includes additional provisions that provide the state with the ability to clean up its own mess without having to wait for the federal authorities to come in and do it for us,” he said.
The bill also bans lawmakers from lobbying for one year after leaving public office, grants wiretap authority to States Attorneys for public corruption crimes, and changes the makeup of the Legislative Ethics Commission from lawmakers to members of the public. The commission would have an independent Inspector General with subpoena power.
“We need to muck out the dark corners, throw open the windows and let some fresh air in, to clear out the smoke filled back rooms and blow the dust off the status quo,” Tracy said.
State Sen. Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) told WMBD-TV he will be reviewing the legislation in the future.