CHICAGO - Gov. Jim Edgar of Illinois signed into law yesterday a bill that requires greater disclosure on the part of lobbyists for state contracts, including contracts related to bond issues.
"This reform legislation, which I have long advocated, will bring far more sunshine to lobbying activities in [the state capital]. Illinois' lobbyist disclosure law is no longer a joke, " Edgar said in a press release.
The bill, which was developed by George Ryan, Illinois' secretary of state, requires persons who lobby state officials for contracts to register with the secretary of state's office. In addition, lobbyists will have to disclose any expenditure made to acquire a state contract, including entertainment, gifts, and honorariums.
Bond firms have not been affected by the state's present lobbying disclosure law because that measure applies only to lobbyists seeking to influence legislation, not the awarding of contracts.
Mike Murphy, Ryan's spokesman, said yesterday that the new law also broadens the category of "officials" beyond the governor and members of the General Assembly to directors and assistant directors of state agencies, chief legal counsel, and top aides to statewide elected officials.
He said the law covers the state Bureau of the Budget and officials such as state Budget Director Joan Walters and Jim Montana, the governor chief legal counsel, who are involved in picking firms for the state's bond business.
The Bureau of the Budget issues general obligation, Build Illinois sales tax revenue, and civic center bonds.
The law is also intended to cover lobbying of top officials at state bonding authorities, Murphy said.
"These are the kinds of decisions we believe ought to be subject to disclosure," he said. "This law doesn't stop people from what they've been doing, except to just disclose it."
He said the law will be clarified as the secretary of state's office puts together rules before the measure takes effect Jan. 1.
Ryan's bill was the only reform measure to pass the Illinois General Assembly during its spring session, which ended last month. A number of state officials, including Edgar, had promoted bills that would have required competitive bidding on most state bond issues, instituted a formal request for proposals process for negotiated state bond issues, limited campaign contributions, and reformed the state's budget process.
Political observers said that many of the unsuccessful bills were politically motivated or contained elements that needed further study. However, the observers said most legislators agreed that the state's disclosure law needed tightening.