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Illinois Legislature OKs Bill To Address Sexual Harassment

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.

Mary works as an intern for NPR Illinois' Illinois Issues. She is currently a student in the Public Affairs Reporting master's degree program at the University of Illinois Springfield and will graduate in May 2018. Prior to coming to Springfield, Mary worked as the Editorial Intern at the Chicago Sun-Times. She obtained her bachelor's degree in journalism from Illinois State University where she served as the school newspaper's news editor and editorial writer. Mary is from Naperville, Ill., and attended Wheaton Warrenville South High School.
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