News Local/State

Rauner Signs Law Expanding Independence Of Ethics Complaints

Governor Bruce Rauner as part of the launch of Uber in Champaign-Urbana at EnterpriseWorks in Champaign in 2015.

Gov. Bruce Rauner, during a 2015 appearance in Champaign to mark the launch of Uber service in the community. . (Jeff Bossert/Illinois Public Media)

Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed into law an overhaul in the handling of ethics complaints against Illinois legislators and staff members.

The Republican said on Friday that it's a victory for courageous women confronting "the culture of fear, abuse and retaliation that permeates too much of state government."

The law (HB 138) provides more independence to investigations of ethics complaints and more public information about the process. The plan sponsored by Grayslake Democratic Sen. Melinda Bush was crafted by House and Senate task forces.

It allows the legislative inspector general to initiate investigations into harassment complaints without getting permission from lawmakers on the Ethics Commission. It creates a new commission to include outsiders and allows for penalties regardless of whether the offender has left employment.

State Senator Jason Barickman praised the legislation upon its signing. In a statement the Bloomington Republican says "this will help reform a system that has often been aptly referred to as the 'fox guarding the henhouse' in terms of sexual harassment enforcement within the Illinois General Assembly."

But Barckman called for the extension of new rules for the investigation of sexual harassment charges to all types of misconduction covered by the Ethics Act.