· Gifts of money appear to be more influential than sound reasoning.
· Decisions are made too rapidly with little time for examination.
· Back-room influence can have more power than public debate.
In the approaching legislative session several pieces of legislation are being advanced which would help to address some of the problems. Some power-brokers oppose these worthy changes. [There may yet be other important changes on campaign finance limits; I’ll keep you posted on that.]
Now is the time for the public to speak up. If you believe improved ethical process would result in better decisions I encourage you to act now.
Below, are five current legislative proposals I believe would bring improvement.
I urge you to go to the phone, write a personal letter or email, or make personal contact with your legislators. Urge them to vote in support of these reasonable improvements. (For help in how to contact legislators, see the end of this article.)
|Legislation number/name||Legislation content||Sponsor and Comments|
|SJR 3 – Joint Rules Resolution on Submitting and Numbering Legislation||Prohibitions on boxcar bills: In “boxcar” bills a bill space is reserved, but the concept is never clearly identified, until the bill suddenly appears late in the session. In SJR 3 the sponsor appropriately argues that bill content should be identified before the Legislative session providing time for adequate debate.||Sponsor: Senator Aaron Osmond (R). I believe this would be a significant improvement, and will likely be debated very early in the legislative session. Contacts in support of the resolution should take place very soon.|
|SJR 6 -- Joint Rules Resolution on Circled Bills||Limitation on the practice of circling bills: Circling leaves the bill on the calendar without action. The action has sometimes been used to keep a bill in “limbo” until late in the session. Then under pressure the bill is passed quickly. This rule change would prohibit the circling of most bills for more than five days.||Sponsor: Senator Aaron Osmond (R). This rule change will also be debated very early in the session; contacts should be made as soon as possible.|
|HB 38 – Campaign Contribution Amendments||Prohibition on anonymous donations over a $100 limit. Although the bill does raise the threshold for allowable anonymous donations, it does prohibit larger anonymous donations, a move toward better transparency.||Sponsor: Representative Kraig Powell(R). The bill has been endorsed by the Interim Government Operations Committee.|
|SJR 4 -- Joint Resolution on Ethics Complaint Procedures||Alteration of the rules for the existing Legislative Ethics Commission. This bill eliminates the current ban on any ethics complaint 60 days prior to an election; second, it eliminates the current gag order to disclose if a complaint has even been filed; and third, it removes the provision which automatically dismisses a complaint if someone does disclose that a complaint has been filed in.||Sponsor: Senator Luz Robles (D). By constitutional amendment, a Legislative Ethics Commission was created several years ago. Some rules discourage, in my opinion, effective operation. These adjustments would be an improvement.|
|Former State Official Lobbying Restriction (bill not numbered)||Expansion of the prohibition against former elected officers becoming lobbyists for two years after leaving office.||Senator Todd Weiler (R) intended to propose this legislation; however, after discussion in the closed Senate Republican caucus he has apparently decided to “abandon” the important reform. You may want to urge the Senators to reconsider that decision.|
If you need more information about how to contact a legislator regarding any bill, go to the Legislative web site: http://le.utah.gov. On the web site, go to “legislators,” then “more,” then either “Senate Roster” or “House Roster.” For the Senate roster you will immediately see a list of senators with their address, telephone numbers, and email addresses. For the House roster, you will go to list of legislators. If you click on that legislator’s name, it will take you to a full biographical page with all the necessary information.
[Note: As you may be aware, I am a member of the Utahns for Ethical Government (UEG) executive committee. UEG is monitoring and tracking any legislation dealing with ethics. They will be sending out emails to many supporters relative to those efforts. This email may duplicate some of that same information, but is consistent.]
Change is vital: your voice may make the difference. MAKE CONTACT NOW!