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Rauner signs law reforming complaints of ethics, sexual harassment

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) – Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed into law an overhaul in the handling of ethics complaints against Illinois legislators and staff members.

The Republican said on Friday that it’s a victory for courageous women confronting “the culture of fear, abuse and retaliation that permeates too much of state government.”

“This bill is a victory for the heroic women who have stepped forward to take on the culture of fear, abuse and retaliation that permeates too much of state government. Illinoisans should… champion the women who stood up to Illinois’ political power structure in order to make this change happen.” Rauner said in his signing message.

The law provides more independence to investigations of ethics complaints and more public information about the process. The plan sponsored by Grayslake Democratic Sen. Melinda Bush was crafted by House and Senate task forces of women.

It allows the legislative inspector general to initiate investigations into harassment complaints without getting permission from lawmakers on the Ethics Commission. The legislative inspector general is currently a part-time position, but this bill allows for full-time employment to increase investigation efficiency.

The bill also creates a new commission to include outsiders and allows for penalties regardless of whether the offender has left employment.