New law takes major step to combat sexual harassment

The Illinois Legislative Inspector General (LIG) is gaining significant autonomy and powers to investigate claims of sexual harassment, thanks to a new law co-sponsored by State Sen. Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington).

“This is a major step toward finally changing a toxic climate that has existed for far too long in Springfield,” said Sen. Barickman. “I’m hopeful this is not the last time we empower the LIG to root out misconduct.”

House Bill 138 allows the LIG to conduct independent investigations into sexual harassment complaints without first needing approval from the Legislative Ethics Commission. The new law also creates a more independent process for finding and hiring the LIG, while creating new rules for political parties and lobbyists.

The legislation contains several ideas proposed by Barickman in an open letter to the members of the General Assembly in 2017. The Senator believes there is still room for additional changes, however.

“I believe in the concept of independent investigations and oversight, and I think at the very least we should have a serious discussion about extending new rules for the investigation of sexual harassment allegations to all types of misconduct covered by the Ethics Act,” said Sen. Barickman.

House Bill 138 was signed into law by Gov. Bruce Rauner on June 8 and takes effect immediately.

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