Legislative Initiatives

Current Initiatives

Senate Bill 1426: Independence, Fairness, and Transparency in ILGA Sexual Harassment Investigations

The Illinois General Assembly has made great strides in improving the way it addresses sexual harassment complaints. Reform for Illinois’ initiative, Senate Bill 1426, builds on that progress by increasing the transparency, independence, and fairness of investigations and the reporting process.

 

Senate Bill 1426 makes the following important changes:

  • Increases transparency by requiring that members of the public serve on the Legislative Ethics Commission alongside legislators. Under current law, the appointment of non-legislative members of the public is optional.
  • Increases the independence of the Legislative Inspector General by giving the office the same ability to subpoena documents and witnesses as the Executive Inspector General, i.e. without prior approval from the Legislative Ethics Commission.
  • Allows the Legislative Inspector General to publish summary reports in cases where it finds reasonable cause that a violation by a member of the legislature has occurred.
  • Increases fairness by ensuring that all investigations receive equal time even if a complainant takes longer to come forward than one who reports immediately. The bill changes the statute of limitations so it begins to run on the date an investigation is initiated, instead of beginning on the date of the last instance of alleged wrongdoing.
An independent and fair process of handling sexual harassment complaints is essential to public confidence and to ensure that everyone can participate equally in state government. These changes benefit victims of harassment, the public, and members whose constituents want to see the legislature take proactive steps to address this important issue.

 

Read SB1426 and see it’s progress here.

 

SB 1733: Fair Elections Fund

SB 1733 creates a Small Donor Matching system in Illinois, which amplifies the voices of small donors and levels the playing field for candidates to pursue public office.

 

Purpose of this legislation: Voters and candidates alike are frustrated with the volume and influence of money in politics today. The cost of running for office requires candidates to raise substantial sums of money, or fund their campaigns through personal wealth. A Small Donor Matching System allows local donors to have their voices heard.

 

How it works:
  • Contributions from $25 to $150 from local donors are matched 6:1 by public funds
  • Limits are set on overall amounts each candidate can gain from the system
  • Candidates cannot accept contributions over $500 from a single donor
  • The system requires only $2 per resident, per year to function
  • Creates a campaign finance board within the State Board of Elections to administer the program
  • Applies to statewide constitutional officers, state senators, and state representatives
Benefits of the system: 
  • Candidates have more incentive to receive contributions from local donors
  • The influence of large donors and special interests will be reduced
  •  Grassroots candidates will have more opportunities to pursue public office
  • Amplifies the voice of local donors and constituents
  • Encourages candidates of all economic backgrounds to run for office
Precedent in other states: 
  • 13 States in the U.S. have some type of public financing system in place
  • These states tend to have more competitive elections, according to the National Institute for Money in State Politics
  • Large cities in the U.S. such as New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, Austin, and Tucson all have functional Small Donor Matching systems
The Small Donor Matching System in SB 1733 is based on the successful system in New York City, which has been in operation since the 1980s. This system is an important step in reducing the influence of money in politics and opening the door to candidates who may not have access to significant financial resources. 

 

Follow the progress of SB1733 by clicking here.

 

SB 1503: Statewide Reporting on Illinois Election Procedures

Illinois has become a leader in advocating for inclusive and accessible elections by passing critical reforms in recent years, including Automatic Voter Registration and Same Day Registration. As these initiatives are enacted, support and open communication with election administrators are essential to ensure their successful implementation.

 

Currently, there is no process in place for individual election jurisdictions in Illinois to submit their processes and procedures for training poll workers, promoting early voting sites and times, or engaging in outreach to potentially disenfranchised voters. Election administrator feedback is only available on an individual basis, so patterns among many different administrators may be missed on a statewide level. 

 

Reform for Illinois proposes an annual reporting mechanism that allows election jurisdictions to submit their feedback, successes, challenges, and election practices to the Illinois State Board of Elections. This will allow the Board of Elections to better understand successful programs and areas for improvement in jurisdictions across the state. It will also allow jurisdictions to regularly submit their feedback on election processes and ask for support where necessary. Documenting these election procedures across the state of Illinois will create a long-standing resource for administrators, advocates, and election officials. 

 

Reform for Illinois believes that a greater exchange of information on election processes would benefit election administrators, the State Board of Elections, journalists, advocates, and most importantly – voters. The ability to better understand the procedures and challenges of election administrators on a statewide level will also help legislators make well-informed decisions on potential changes to the election process. Statutes affected: 10 ILCS5/1A-8.

 

Proposal: Increase Information on Election Procedures
  • On an annual basis, Illinois election authorities will submit the following prepared documents to the Illinois State Board of Elections:
    • Methods the jurisdiction uses for outreach to populations who may have difficulty voting or accessing polling places
    • Training materials for poll workers
    • Methods the jurisdiction engages in to recruit poll workers
    • Communication plan for early voting procedures and sites
  • The State Board of Elections will make this data available to the public by request
  • These forms, once finalized, will be provided for election authorities to fill out and submit online, via mail, or via fax to the State Board of Elections
Follow the progress of SB1503 by clicking here.

 

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