Barickman files legislation to ensure independent investigations of ethics violations
State Senator Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) took action this week with the goal of restoring public trust in government by filing legislation to ensure independent investigations of members of the General Assembly.
State Sen. Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) filed Senate Bill 2297, which gives the Legislative Inspector General (LIG) the appropriate tools, which the current LIG has suggested, to conduct independent investigations of legislators. He joined with a group of Senators to introduce the plan at a press conference at the Illinois State Capitol.
"There is a cloud hanging over the capitol. Recent events have reminded the public that the Illinois legislature is incapable of policing itself,” said Barickman. “Under current law, the Office of the Legislative Inspector General isn’t allowed to have the independence necessary to do its job. It looks like the fox is guarding the hen house. Today we’re acting to change that.”
Currently, except in cases alleging sexual harassment, the LIG must get advance approval from the Legislative Ethics Commission (LEC) before opening an investigation, or issuing subpoenas. Additionally, if, during the investigation, the LIG discovers wrongdoing that is beyond the scope of, or unrelated to the initial complaint, they have to go back to the LEC to get approval to investigate further.
Under SB 2297, the LIG would be able to investigate complaints against legislators and issue subpoenas without approval from the LEC. By taking legislators out of the process, the bill ensures independence in the investigation of these claims.
“In two weeks, the fall veto session will continue, and there is no reason this legislation shouldn’t be taken up at that time,” said Barickman. “I hope that we can work together, in a bipartisan way, to pass this important legislation to ensure the independence of the Legislative Inspector General.”
First week of veto session wraps up
Members of the Illinois General Assembly just wrapped up the first week of the annual fall veto session.
The Illinois Senate passed bills to ban public vaping indoors in the same areas that are banned for smoking, and failed to override Governor Pritzker's veto of another bill that would have protected health insurance coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. Meanwhile, the Illinois House advanced a measure to allow college athletes to make money from their name, image and/or likeness, along with a bill to ban the use of ethylene oxide for sterilizing medical equipment.
The Illinois General Assembly returns for the final week of the fall veto session on Tuesday, Nov. 12.