The Latest: House OKs easier access to lobbyist information
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The Latest on action in the Illinois General Assembly (all times local):
The House has overwhelmingly approved a measure ease access to disclosure requirements for lobbyists who try to influence the General Assembly.
Debate lasted more than an hour before the 109-5 vote. It would create a searchable database that allows taxpayers to cross-reference information about lobbyists, their clients, campaign contributions, interaction with legislators and their statements of economic interest.
The action stems from last month’s federal bribery charge against former Rep. Luis Arroyo. The Chicago Democrat resigned after he was charged with trying to bribe a senator for support of an issue about which Arroyo was also lobbying the Chicago City Council.
Republicans decried a move by majority Democrats to scuttle a provision to strengthen the economic interest statements. They’re roundly derided for their broad, vague questions that reveal little about lawmakers or executive branch members’ financial interests.
Majority Leader Greg Harris says that issue should be left to a commission that will be created to suggest other changes.
The bill is SB1639.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker favors greater disclosure of lobbyists and their interaction with legislators after a federal bribery charge against a House member.
Lawmakers were scheduled to consider a measure Thursday that would create a cross-referencing database that puts in one place online the disclosure documents that lobbyists and legislators are required to file.
Former Rep. Luis Arroyo was charged Oct. 28 with attempting to bribe a state senator for his support of legislation legalizing slot-machine-like “sweepstakes” games. The Chicago Democrat was representing at the same time a sweepstakes game operator as a lobbyist before the Chicago City Council.
Most states have few restrictions on outside lobbying by sitting legislators.
The legislation would also create a commission to study further ethics changes and report next spring.
Thursday is the General Assembly’s last day in its fall session.
Illinois lawmakers have sent Gov. J.B. Pritzker a measure that merges 650 local police and fire pension systems to boost investment returns and save money.
The Senate voted 42-12 Thursday on the Democratic governor’s plan to create two statewide retirement programs for police employees and firefighters.
The funds’ combined assets would be $15 billion. Pritzker says the investment power would increase returns by $800 million to $2.5 billion in the first five years and save local governments money on administrative costs.
Republicans objected to a provision in Elgin Democratic Sen. Cristina Castro’s bill that increases benefits for employees hired after 2011. Cost-saving benefits offered so-called Tier 2 employees are too low to remain in compliance with federal Social Security guidelines.
The bill is SB1300.