Reforming Illinois Government, Law By Law

Something to celebrate. In 2016, the legislature passed, and the governor signed, twenty-two good government bills that BGA supported. They make incremental reforms in the areas of streamlining, accountability, ethics and transparency.

In 2016’s spring legislative session, the Better Government Association supported 22 bills that were adopted by the Illinois state legislature and signed into law by the governor. Six of the bills addressed problems uncovered by BGA’s investigations.

This highlights the progress we can achieve through compromise and bipartisan work in Springfield. The bills address:

  • streamlining government
  • increasing accountability
  • implementing effective ethics
  • expanding transparency
  • overseeing police work

These are all areas that make government more open, accountable and efficient.

Here’s a look at the individual laws:

Streamlining Government

  • HB 4371: A water authority in the state of Illinois may be dissolved via referendum.
  • HB 5584: Provides for the dissolution of the Round Lake Sanitary District.
  • SB 2994: Requires every county to report to the General Assembly a list of information of the units of local government the county board appoints members to.
  • HB 229: Extends the DuPage County consolidation authority to Lake and McHenry counties.

Increasing Accountability

  • HB 4379: Provides oversight and regulation of government travel, meal, and lodging expenses for state government employees. (BGA investigation)
  • HB 5684: Requires an open public meeting when a government agency is considering a retiree benefits calculation. (BGA investigation)
  • SB 2155: Provides for an audit of higher education institutions reviewing compliance, transparency, contracts and bonuses.
  • SB 2156: Provides that housing and vehicle expenses are not pensionable, and that new employees of the Association of Middle Grade Schools and IL Association of School Administrators are not in the state pension program. (BGA investigation)  
  • SB 2158: Provides that lame duck community college trustees cannot modify employee agreements with a district’s president, chancellor, or CEO. (BGA investigation)
  • SB 2159: Provides that higher education severance packages may not exceed one year of salary/benefits.
  • SB2701: Provides that elected county board members are not eligible to participate in a pension fund without certification that the member is expected to work at least 600 hours annually. Also requires that members submit time sheets to county fiscal officers. 
  • HB 4522: Provides that municipalities may charge reasonable fees for the use of fire department services to non-residents. (BGA Investigation)
  • HB 6030: Establishes a system of identifying deceased pension annuitants. (BGA investigation)

Implementing Effective Ethics

  • SB 2157: Provides that community college trustees must complete a minimum of 4 hours of training on OMA, FOIA, audits, labor law and ethics.
  • SB 2174: Provides that newly appointed university board member s must complete a minimum four hours of professional development training.
  • HB 4391: Provides that a person convicted of a serious crime is not eligible to hold any office.

Expanding Transparency

  • HB 4630: Provides that newly elected officials can see all confidential meeting records prior to beginning their terms in office.
  • HB 4715: Provides an increased fine if government agency fails to comply with FOIA court orders.
  • HB 5901: Requires principals and schools to report student fees and assessments to the state board of education to compile and make it publically available.
  • HB 5902: Creates protections and rights for student journalists at public high schools.
  • HB 5683: Gives individuals the right to file lawsuits for OMA violations within 60 days of the Attorney General’s decision.

Widening Police Accountability

  • SB 392: Extends the life and jurisdiction of the Illinois Torture and Inquiry Commission for 10 more years.

These victories reflect the work of dedicated legislators, coalitions of advocates, including the BGA and the people of Illinois. Broad and bipartisan support is a key to confronting successfully the state’s more serious problems.