Rushing to judgment too often results in bad judgment.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and that construction project didn’t present nearly the challenge of cleaning up government in Illinois.
So it’s not surprising that Gov. J.B. Pritzker has acknowledged that it’s “problematic” for legislators to put together and then pass ethics legislation during the veto session that concludes today.
All told, legislators met for six days in late October and early November for what is billed as the fall veto session, a time when legislators are scheduled to address issues stemming from any bills the governor has modified or vetoed.
Unfortunately, the time also has been used by legislators to address major and minor legislation better left to traditional legislative sessions that provide time to move deliberately through the legislative process. Moving at warp speed may please legislative leaders who want to pass bills before all the interested parties know what’s up, but that kind of stealthy approach doesn’t serve the broad public interest.
Owing to multiple pending criminal investigations involving public officials, legislators are in a rush to address ethics issues, mostly by focusing on lobbyists.
A broad ban on public officials, including their family members, acting as lobbyists for anyone seems like a reasonable approach. But the scandals that are under investigation don’t have as much to do with lobbying as some people would have the public believe.
They deal with outright criminality allegedly perpetrated by elected or appointed public officials. That’s why the lobbyists who are complaining they are being singled out for restrictive rules have a point.
Lobbyists have a bad reputation, one that suggests they’re engaging in some kind of skulduggery. But what lobbyists mostly do is try to protect the interests of private parties who are being targeted in one way or another by the government.
If the public wants to cut down on lobbying, all that’s necessary is for the government to reduce the number of interests it wants to regulate.
That, however, is a big subject that requires thoughtful consideration, something often lacking in Springfield even in the best of times let alone in a rushed and chaotic veto session.