SPRINGFIELD – May 8, 2013. Lt. Governor Sheila Simon today testified in the Senate’s Executive Committee in support of bipartisan ethics reform legislation. Senate Bill 1361, sponsored by Sen. Dan Kotowski (D-Park Ridge), passed committee and will now be considered by the full Senate.
“The people of Illinois deserve to know whether their government officials hold any conflicts of interest,” said Simon. “I thank the Senate Executive Committee for passing legislation that will greatly improve our disclosure form, and I appreciate Sen. Kotowski’s work to move this important transparency initiative through the Senate.”
SB 1361 proposes a revised disclosure form, known as a Statement of Economic Interests, which must be filed or postmarked annually by May 1. The revised form would require filers to list outside sources of income, lobbyist relationships and loans made or accepted on terms not available to the general public, for the first time.
The new form will be easier for filers to complete, thanks to the plain-language questions, definitions of terms, and clear connections to information found on tax returns and investment statements. It also revises questions that allowed filers to answer “not applicable” to almost every item on the current version of the form introduced 40 years ago.
Simon, who served on the Illinois Reform Commission, worked with government watchdog groups to draft Senate Bill 1361. The legislation is Simon’s top transparency initiative of 2013. The Illinois Constitution and Illinois Governmental Ethics Act require thousands of elected officials, high-ranking government employees, and political candidates to complete a Statement of Economic Interests each May. State government workers file with the secretary of state, while workers for local units of government file with their county clerk.
The forms are supposed to expose existing or potential conflicts of interest, but the documents use such vague and cumbersome language that the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform has called them “woefully inadequate” and “a waste of paper.”