Senate passes government ethics reform plan

From Illinois Business Journal news services

SPRINGFIELD – A plan to prevent future governors from engaging in last-minute patronage has cleared the Illinois Senate.

State Senator Julie Morrison, D-Deerfield, introduced the proposal after former Gov. Pat Quinn appointed a political operative to a $160,000-per-year state job at the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority a month after he lost his election last year.

Her plan would affect any director appointed to a governor-controlled board or commission after the governor loses an election. They would be limited to 60 days in the position, allowing the newly elected governor to find the best person for the position. Morrison’s legislation extends beyond the ISFA to include similar government organizations.

“We should all be upset when a lame-duck governor uses his position to provide campaign staff with golden parachutes,” Morrison said. “I was gravely disappointed when I learned of the abuse at the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, and I introduced this legislation to help restore the people’s trust in their government.”

The Illinois Sports Finance Authority – a government entity – owns U.S. Cellular Field, home of the White Sox, and provided the majority of the financing for the renovation of the Bears’ Soldier Field. It receives subsidies from the state and the city of Chicago, income from the White Sox rental agreement, and revenue from a 2 percent tax on all hotel rentals in Chicago.

Morrison’s legislation, Senate Bill 1369, is only part of her effort to reform state government. She’s also introduced plans to prevent legislators from becoming lobbyists until at least one year after they leave office and to create term limits for the House speaker and Senate president.

The measure now advances to the Illinois House of Representatives.

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