By Dennis Busch, collective opinion of the
EDITORIAL: Utah ethics in need of reform
Utah has long been riddled with complaints of ethics violations on the part of its legislators, but the responsibility to discipline those members has always fallen to the legislature itself.
It's time for an independent ethics commission in Utah.
In August, a group called Utahns for Ethical Government launched a grass-roots campaign for a new ballot initiative.
According to UEG, the ballot measure establishes a non-partisan citizen ethics commission and a strict code of conduct to govern the ethical behavior of Utah legislators.
This law would establish a five-member commission with commissioners drawn at random from a list of 20 independent-minded citizens who are chosen by unanimous agreement of the president of the Senate, speaker of the House, and the two minority leaders of the Utah Legislature.
The commission would rule on issues of ethics violations and make recommendations to the legislature based on a code of conduct that would be established.
The University Journal Editorial Board supports this ballot initiative that will require Utah legislators to think twice before they accept some gifts and reduces the chance for conflicts of interest.
There have been many vocal opponents of this measure, including U.S. Representative for Utah's 1st Congressional District Republican Rob Bishop, who claims this initative will only add to government bureaucracy.
The law, however, would establish the commissioners as non-salaried and only a small support staff as needed.
Many opponents of this ballot initiative have contended that it's largely a democratic measure aimed at taking away the rights of the majority, despite the fact that several republicans head this campaign with broad bipartisan support including former Utah Gov. Olene Walker.
We think the new guidelines that this law would set, including citizens having a say on ethics by way of the commission, gifts to legislators and restrictions for sitting on corporate boards make this an important initiative.
We urge citizens of Utah to become informed on the issue and support this measure.
For more information visit http://www.utahnsforethicalgovernment.org.
© 2009 Dennis Busch, University Journal