CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today signed legislation to strengthen ethics provisions in certain Illinois county governments. The new law helps these counties establish ethical guidelines and simplifies the removal process for individuals who violate those guidelines. Today’s action is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to making Illinois government more accountable, transparent and effective.
“Public officials should always be accountable to the public, regardless of how they attain their positions,” Governor Quinn said. “This new law is part of our ongoing effort to make sure that all officials at any level of government maintain the public trust.”
Senate Bill 3552, sponsored by State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield) and State Representative Sam Yingling (D-Grayslake), allows county boards to adopt a code of conduct regarding the accountability, fiscal responsibility, procurement authority, transparency and ethical conduct of county appointees. It also sets forth a mechanism to remove county appointees who violate that code of conduct. The law applies to counties with a population greater than 300,000 but less than 2,000,000, which currently includes DuPage, Lake, Will, Kane and McHenry counties. The legislation was drafted because county boards do not always have the authority to remove appointees due to misconduct. The new law is effective Jan. 1, 2015.
“Everyone who serves the public should be held to the highest ethical standards,” Senator Morrison said. “It shouldn’t matter if you are elected, appointed or hired. If you violate the public trust, there should be a way to remove you from your position.”
“I'm proud of this bi-partisan effort to improve accountability for local government,” Representative Yingling said. “It shows that by working together, we can improve ethical standards and transparency for taxpayers.”
Since taking office, Governor Quinn has made ethics reform a top priority. In his first official act, Governor Quinn signed an Executive Order establishing the Illinois Reform Commission. Later that year he signed ground-breaking campaign finance reform legislation into law that imposed Illinois’ first-ever contribution limits on candidates, political parties and political action committees.
In August of 2009, the Governor launched the Illinois Transparency and Accountability Portal to provide people in Illinois access to state government spending information. The website makes the state's expenditures and employee pay data available through a single, searchable portal: Accountability.Illinois.gov.
Governor Quinn also launched a searchable clearinghouse of information from state agencies that helps inform residents about the operation of state government and encourage the creative use of state information, including the development of applications for mobile devices that can be built around the data.
An Executive Order signed by the Governor in 2010 encourages state agencies and local governments across Illinois to increase the amount of raw data they share with each other, businesses, academic institutions and the general public. The order makes data available to the public and further empowers the people of Illinois to make a difference.
Governor Quinn has also signed legislation to strengthen the Illinois Open Meetings Act by ensuring that a copy of the meeting notice and agenda is available to the public for the entire 48 hours preceding the meeting.