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New ethics law in place for Illinois counties

MorrisonBushCounty boards will now have the ability to remove appointed officials who violate the public trust.

Senate Bill 3552, signed by the governor earlier this week, enables the county boards of the collar counties to remove appointed officials with a two-thirds majority vote. To initiate the process, the county board or county executive must find the appointed official violated the county’s code of conduct, and the county board must hold a hearing.

“Everyone who serves the public should be held to the highest ethical standards,” said State Senator Julie Morrison (D – Deerfield), who introduced the legislation in cooperation with the Lake County Board. “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.”

Before this law, once the county board or executive appointed someone to serve on one of these commissions, he or she was not subject to any oversight until the term of the appointment expired. These boards and commissions include the Metra Board, the Pace Board, zoning boards, fire protection districts and more.

“There have been instances in the past where county boards had no means to remove unethical appointees,” said Melinda Bush (D – Grayslake), another Lake County senator. “This new law will help ensure that doesn’t happen again.”