Give commission help monitoring legislators
A state House task force is recommending an ethics committee comprised of members.
STATE legislators are considering creation of a House ethics committee to review questionable conduct. The move is puzzling, since the state Ethics Commission has performed well with few resources since its creation nearly 40 years ago. Creating an ethics committee comprised of legislators is unnecessary and could provide a means to undermine the commission's authority.
A House ethics committee, the focus of a legislative task force, would be aimed at ruling on complaints in a shorter time than is usual for the commission, according to House Majority Leader Kirk Caldwell. Subsequent contrary rulings by the commission would be reviewed by the committee.
Under such a system, an accused House member conceivably would be able to garner support from his colleagues on the committee before being hauled before the independent commission, whose members are nominated by the governor and confirmed by the Legislature. Such a pre-emptive review by the House committee could be used to provide ammunition and support before the commission.
A broad ethics bill before last year's legislative session died near the end of the session. It would have created Senate and House ethics committees and made changes in ethics rules.
Daniel Mollway, director of the Ethics Commission, testified that the proposed committees would not interfere with the commission's jurisdiction but would be able to deal with ethical issues on a daily basis. A greater improvement would be to provide the commission with resources to respond to such issues.
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