News Local/State

Illinois Legislature OKs Bill To Address Sexual Harassment

State Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake).

State Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake). Illinois Senate Democrats

The Illinois General Assembly is continuing its push to change what’s been criticized as a culture of sexual harassment. Lawmakers approved the first set of recommendations from a task force Thursday.

The measure would overhaul the power of the legislative inspector general — taking hiring and firing authority away from the legislative leaders and giving it to the Legislative Ethics Commission.

It would also allow the inspector general to investigate sexual harassment without getting permission from the commission.

Sen. Melinda Bush, a Democrat from Grayslake and co-chair of the task force, said this bill is a first step.

“A lot of work has gone into this, we're really proud of what we've done to move Illinois along,” Bush said. “Really, we do have a mission to make sure we have the best laws in the state and that we're changing the culture here.”

Sen. Tim Bivins voted for the measure, but said the Legislative Ethics Commission should not be made up of legislators and lobbyists.

“Now since I’ve been down here, a little over 10 years, I’ve heard it said many times about law enforcement, that police really shouldn’t police themselves,” Bivins said. “Why do we have legislators policing themselves sitting in judgement of other legislators?”

Bush acknowledged Bivins’ concerns, but said this bill is the first of many aimed at tackling the issue.

The measure now goes to Governor Bruce Rauner, who can decide whether to sign or veto it.