Illinois lawmakers took some steps to address to government corruption this week, but they didn't take action on a bill state Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington and other Republicans were pushing.
Brady, the Republican leader in the Illinois Senate, was a co-sponsor with along with nearly 20 members of his caucus of a measure that would give the legislative inspector general unilateral power to launch an ethics investigation.
“Her ability to open an investigation on her own without approval and her ability to have subpoena powers, we felt was prudent in these times and under these circumstances,” Brady said.
Inspector general Carol Pope has urged lawmakers to give her office more authority.
Currently, the inspector general must get approval from a legislative ethics commission before launching a probe, unless it's for sexual assault. Lawmakers also must approve any inspector general report being released to the public.
The General Assembly passed several measures this week aimed at reducing the influence of lobbyists.
One measure would require lobbyists to disclosure more information to the public.
“Transparency is of the upmost importance, but then I think we have to deal with the whole issue of what advantage do they have in that process.” Brady said. “We will take that up at least in the special committee to study.”
Lawmakers approved a 16-member commission that will consider additional reforms.
Ethics reform became a focal point of the fall legislative session following the arrest and subsequent resignation of state Rep. Luis Arroyo amid bribery charges that arose out of a wide-ranging ethics investigation.
Brady said the health concerns linked to vaping are best addressed through education rather than legislation. An Illinois Senate committee endorsed a plan this week to ban flavored e-cigarettes, but the measure stalled.
Brady cites data which suggest many of the illnesses and deaths tied to vaping are linked to the use of products that are already illegal.
“So I think we have to be careful on how we infringe on people’s personal liberty, but education is a first step in my opinion,” Brady said.
Four people in Illinois have died from vaping. The Illinois Department of Public Health reports 179 people have suffered lung injuries after vaping.
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