A group of five Republican lawmakers is demanding a special session of the General Assembly to push forward ethics reform legislation for which they insist Illinois state government has no time to waste.
House Reps. Brad Halbrook (R-Shelbyville), Blaine Wilhour (R-Beecher City), Allen Skillicorn (R-Crystal Lake), Chris Miller (R-Oakland) and Dan Caulkins (R-Decatur) have all joined forces in demanding that the legislature not wait to take action until the new session officially starts on Jan. 28. Over the last several weeks, the level of urgency has intensified as two longtime Democratic state lawmakers have been forced to step down after being implicated in separate scandals involving bribery and kickbacks.
Former Illinois state Rep. Luis Arroyo (D-Chicago) was taken into custody on federal bribery charges after allegedly offering a $2,500-per-month payment to a sitting state senator in exchange for a vote on a gambling bill. Meanwhile, veteran state Sen. Martin Sandoval (D-Chicago), who also served as chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, tendered his resignation effective Jan. 1 as federal agents continue their probe into his alleged involvement in an ongoing kickback scheme.
Illinois state Rep. Brad Halbrook (R-Shelbyville) | rephalbrook.com
In response to the escalating ethics crisis in state government, the Democratic majority used the recently concluded veto session to create a task force to study the matter, a solution that most Republican legislators argue will have little to no real impact.
“We have been down the road of legislative commissions and task forces before, and little ends up being done,” Halbrook said in a press release. “We have a commission on property tax relief. Have anyone’s property taxes been lowered since the formation of the property tax task force? What assurances do we have that a commission on ethics will be any different than past commissions? We need action – not more commissions.”
Halbrook says it seems simple what needs to be done.
“We’re past the time for more task forces,” he said in the release. “We know what the problems are and we know how we can fix them. It’s time to act now to clean up Illinois’ culture of corruption.”