Thursday, March 17, 2005

Updated Sunshine

The Sunshine Database has been updated through the end of 2004. Click here for lists of top contributors, here for the new career patron lists, and here for contributor searches. More updates and refinements are coming. Please let us know how the database can be more useful.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Contractor Contributions

It’s not easy to say ten times fast, and they’re not easy to get a handle on. But the Rockford Register-Star has posted a list of contracts and contributions from the past year and a half. The spreadsheet covers only Rockford area legislators (Sens. Sieben, Burzynski, and Syverson, Reps. Sacia, Wait, Winters, and Jefferson), but even if that’s not where you live, it’s well worth perusing. Kudos to Aaron Chambers for doing the legwork and sharing it with the web. It’s available for download along with this story.

Tort Reformers for Civil Dialogue?

Some of you may remember early in February when the Illinois Civil Justice League launched an unfounded attack (Rich Miller likened it to “six degrees of Kevin Bacon”) on ICPR shortly before ICPR filed complaints with the State Board of Elections about two groups, one of whom had given the League’s PAC $50,000. The same group that launched a spurious “guilt by association” smear on ICPR is now crying foul, that a single anonymous visitor to their blog is posting “very personal and demeaning” comments. Their 850-word entry suggests that the League has decided, now that they’re on the receiving end, to adopt Marquess of Queensberry rules. At least this visitor kept their comments to the blog, and didn’t send out a national press release trumpeting their “personal and demeaning” comments. Whatever it takes, we’re all for more civil discourse.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Wide Variety of Reform Proposals

The House filing deadline was yesterday, so we should now have a pretty good sense of what bills may be active this spring (except for all those pesky shell bills, which could morph into just about anything). Apparently, many legislators recognize the value of being seen as reformers (though the real test is passage, not filing). Here’s a brief recap of some that we haven’t previously posted:

Election Day procedures. HB 2484 (Rep Connie Howard) would make Election Day a state holiday. Relatedly, HB1337 (Rep. Larry McKeon) would allow workers to take paid voting leave on Election Day. HB 203 (Rep. Rich Myers) would address voting in nursing homes and hospitals. HB 1015 and HB 3548 (both Rep. Mike Boland) and also SB 1697 (Sen. Terry Link) would make provisions for early voting. HB 2532 (Rep. Beth Coulson) would expand the ranks of who can serve as a pollwatcher. HB 111 (Rep. Sara Feigenholtz) and SB 453 (Sen. John Cullerton) would set standards for counting provisional ballots. SB 2015 (Sen. Susan Garrett) gets at standards for counting absentee ballots. HB 715 (Rep. Linda Chapa-LaVia) and HB 545 (Rep. Bill Black) would designate where students could vote (in somewhat conflicting ways).

Conduct of elections and of government. HB 1598 (Rep. Bill Black) would expand the electronic filing requirement to cover more political committees. SB 2009 (Sen. Dave Sullivan) would require that most large contributions be disclosed within two days, even when an election wasn’t imminent. HB 4019 (Rep. Sid Mathias) would increase disclosure requirements for politically active non-profits. SB 2007 (Sen. Kirk Dillard) would ban the use of a statewide official's name or image in a commercial solicitation or broadcast message.

Probably many, if not most, of these bills won’t survive the session in their current form. In the coming weeks and months, we’ll see how well the legislature can coalesce around ideas, run them through the wringer, and pass them into law.