ISACo Testifies During Joint Commission Hearing
On Wednesday, January 15, 2020, ISACo Executive Director Joe McCoy participated in a hearing of the Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform in Chicago.
The hearing included two panels. ISACo contributed to the first panel, which included the Illinois Municipal League (IML), Cook County Clerk’s Office, the City of Chicago and the Office of the Secretary of State.
The Commission is gathering information to learn what local governments are doing with respect to registering lobbyists seeking to influence local decisions. ISACo provided an overview of what, if anything, counties are currently doing in this regard.
Both Cook and DuPage counties have ordinances in place. Will County had an ordinance in the late 1990’s that was struck down in court.
The lack of local ordinances establishing lobbyist regulation requirements is something both counties and municipalities have in common.
The statutory authority allowing non-home rule governments to establish a local lobbyist regulation ordinance/resolution is as follows:
(25 ILCS 170/11.2)
Sec. 11.2. Local regulation. A unit of local government or school district may adopt an ordinance or resolution regulating lobbying activities with that unit of local government or school district that imposes requirements similar to those imposed by this Act.
(Source: P.A. 88-187.)
In addition to providing information to the Commission, ISACo offered some preemptive thoughts in anticipation of future legislation. Those views are summarized below:
Under state law, local governments possess authority to establish a lobbyist registration process. It is ISACo’s understanding that many counties, as a result of their unique experiences in conducting business, have decided they do not need a local registration process to date.
ISACo believes the decision to adopt a lobbyist registration policy is best left to locally-elected officials based on discernible need and public benefit. Insofar as the General Assembly explores legislation that would mandate a policy, it is imperative that local governments retain maximum flexibility to craft policies that conform with local needs and experiences. Laws premised on a “one size fits all” approach don’t often make good public policy.
The Commission was created by HJR 93 and is required to issue a report with recommendations by March 1, 2020.
Based upon some of the questions and comments put forth by Commission members, the Commission may very well recommend that local governments above a specified population threshold must adopt a lobbyist registration policy affecting those seeking influence over policy and other matters. ISACo will continue to remain involved with the activities of the Commission and provide updates about new developments.