Senate Week in Review: October 28 – November 1, 2019

Senate Republican bill ensures independent investigations of ethics violations

The Senate Republican Caucus took action during the week to restore public trust in an honest and ethical state government by introducing legislation to ensure independent investigations of members of the General Assembly.

In this state, the public has very good reason to be suspicious of a process that puts that much power in the hands of the people who have demonstrated a history of abusing power.  The current self-policing system is clearly not working.  What we have right now is a system where the fox is guarding the henhouse.

Currently, except in cases alleging sexual harassment, the Legislative Inspector General (LIG) must get advance approval from the Legislative Ethics Commission (LEC) before opening an investigation into allegations against a member of the General Assembly, or issuing subpoenas.  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.

I am a lead sponsor of Senate Bill 2297, which will give independent authority to the Legislative Inspector General’s office that it currently does not have.  Introduced October 30, this legislation will allow the LIG to investigate complaints against legislators and issue subpoenas without approval from the LEC. 

What we have currently is a system where politicians are being trusted to police politicians.  Our proposal takes politicians out of the equation and allows the Legislative Inspector General the independence necessary to do his or her job.

This reform shouldn’t be seen as the end of the road, but instead as the beginning of a more comprehensive conversation about what can be done to restore honesty and integrity to Springfield.

However, while that conversation takes place, Senate Bill 2297 is a simple, effective reform that should garner broad, bipartisan support.

When the fall veto session continues on November 12, legislators must come together to pass this important legislation and then begin a more extensive conversation about what else can be done to restore honesty and integrity to Springfield.

Jil Tracy

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