Vote expected on amended search-firm legislation

Vote expected on amended search-firm legislation

SPRINGFIELD — Area lawmakers have amended a bill limiting use of external search committees at Illinois public universities and predict that there will be floor votes on the measure (HB 5914) within the next week.

The amended version of the legislation, which was prompted in part by News-Gazette stories about the University of Illinois spending almost $6 million in the last two years for executive search firms, was filed Tuesday by Sen. Dale Righter, R-Mattoon.

"There will be a vote on the floor amendment to the bill either (Wednesday) or Thursday," Righter said.

As written, the amendment prohibits any Illinois public university from using public funds for an external hiring search firm except when hiring a president or when the university president and governing board of trustees "demonstrate a justifiable need for guidance from an individual or firm with specific expertise in the field of the hiring."

Each university has six months to adopt and implement a policy on the use of external hiring firms.

"This would put the responsibility where it belongs: with the board of trustees of the university to get a board policy in place that would have criteria that every hiring unit would need to meet, and then would have to be approved by the president and board of trustees before we would go to an external search firm for help in a particular area with a particular position where we need expertise in that field," said Dianna Barrows, the UI's director of state relations.

"It's the responsible thing to do," Barrows said. "And if it's not working the way that Representative Rose or Senator Righter envisions, we can work on it. The Legislature will be in session again. We get the message."

Rose said he helped draft the amendment Tuesday morning.

"I appreciate what (Barrows) said that 'we get it,'" Rose said. "But if we get to a point a year from now where you still have a search firm for the assistant directors of housing, then I'm just going to come back and we'll shut it all down. I think this is a healthy compromise."

Each chamber must approve the amended bill before the scheduled adjournment of the General Assembly on May 31.

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