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Martwick fights for ethics reforms in Springfield

Published: Tuesday, November 19, 2019 01:13 PM

martwick 111819SPRINGFIELD – Moving quickly to enact ethics reforms in Springfield, State Senator Robert Martwick (D-Chicago) lent his support to two measures that will help increase lobbying transparency and create an ethics commission that will lay the groundwork for comprehensive ethics reform.

“Open and honest government are the pillars of Democracy,” Martwick said. “These initiatives will move our state in a positive direction to help change the culture, close loopholes and create clear guidelines for putting an end to the political games corrupt politicians play at the expense of taxpayers.”

Martwick co-sponsored Senate Bill 1639, which takes aim at the practice of state lawmakers lobbying local units of government. The bipartisan measure would require:

  • state lobbyists to disclose any units of local government they also lobby,
  • state lobbyists to disclose any elected or appointed offices they hold,
  • lobbying firms that contract out other lobbyists to disclose who is lobbying for each business or other client,
  • the Secretary of State’s Office to improve the lobbyist database, integrating these new provisions and making the entire system easier to search and navigate.

House Joint Resolution 93 creates a 16-member ethics commission to scrutinize the state’s ethics laws and make meaningful suggestions for legislation to improve our standards.

“Public service should benefit the public, not enrich those of us who serve,” Martwick said. “I urge legislative leaders to appoint members as soon as possible. The sooner we receive the report, the quicker the legislature can act to help restore the public’s trust in Springfield.”

The commission’s report is due before the end of next spring’s legislative session, so the legislature can vote on the recommendations before they adjourn session in May.

“I’m committed to working in the best interest of the people of our district to help guarantee government is transparent at every level,” Martwick said.

Ellman moves to immediately enact access to planned property tax breaks for Cook County seniors

Published: Friday, November 15, 2019 01:06 PM

ellman 052219SPRINGFIELD –Cook County seniors would see access to property tax break sooner under legislation by State Senator Laura Ellman that passed the Senate unopposed on Thursday.

“My goal was always to simplify this application process as much as possible,” said Ellman, (D-Naperville), the measure’s chief sponsor. “Rather than subjecting our seniors to an unnecessary reapplication process, we’re making things easier on them while also giving more people the chance to benefit from property tax breaks.”

Currently, every county in Illinois other than Cook may allow seniors to receive the Senior Citizen Homestead Exemption without having to reapply for it annually. Changes to the law will allow Cook County seniors the same privilege, and House Bill 961 allows this exemption to take effect for the taxable year 2019.

Cook County agencies would also be required to keep track of any property transfers or death that would end the exemption on a particular piece of property in order to prevent abuse of it.

This legislation now awaits the governor’s signature.

Koehler works to preserve Peoria-area jobs

Published: Friday, November 15, 2019 11:40 AM

airplane mech 111419SPRINGFIELD – Legislation co-sponsored by State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) that would ensure the preservation of manufacturing jobs in the Peoria area passed the Senate with bipartisan support yesterday.

“The point of this legislation is simple: to keep good-paying jobs in our area,” Koehler said. “Without this tax exemption there is no question that aviation companies would have to take a long look at doing business elsewhere.”

Peoria is home to Byerly Aviation, a company that offers maintenance, charters and aircraft sales.

This legislation would reinstate the Illinois state sales tax exemption for materials used in aircraft manufacturing, which expired Dec. 31, 2014.

Since its expiration, the Illinois Department of Revenue audited several privately owned aviation repair companies and never required them to collect sales tax. The Illinois Aviation Trades Association believes the outstanding tax bill is roughly $50 million.

“Since the expiration of this sales tax, Illinois has become an outlier,” Koehler said. “In order to remain competitive with several other states who currently offer this exemption, we had to reinstate it.”

This legislation now awaits the governor’s signature.

Bush: Joint ethics commission a good first step toward serious reform

Published: Thursday, November 14, 2019 04:43 PM

bush 111419SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) released the following statement regarding the adoption of House Joint Resolution 93, which created the Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform to review current Illinois ethics codes:

“We need to seize this opportunity to spur change in our system given the scandals that have shaken the public’s confidence. We took a few small steps forward today regarding lobbying transparency. More needs to happen, and happen fast.

“This joint ethics commission will bring Republicans and Democrats together to study needed changes and come up with recommendations by early next year. The only way we’ll solve this culture problem is to stand unified behind a commitment to real change. And I think this is a good first step. I look forward to helping drive serious reform and working with my colleagues to push through any obstacles we encounter on the way.”

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