Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Ethics Reform Revisited

I hope everyone had a little time off to spend with family and friends and that your holidays were well spent. With the New Year right around the corner and, perhaps more importantly, the 2009 Legislative session only 3 weeks away, it's just about time to wipe the sleep out of our eyes and pay attention to what lawmakers have in store for us next year. The presents and candy-induced comas will have their turn again sooner than we realize.

In preparation for the upcoming legislative session, I'd like to revisit a few points concerning ethics reform. In October I wrote about the efforts of Utahns for Public Schools to bring about positive change in regards to campaign finance. They published a Pledge for Legislative Ethics Reform and invited candidates and legislators to sign it as a vow of their active support and work for the passage of legislation that would allow for a more open, honest, ethical and transparent government. As of today, 24 Republicans, 47 Democrats and 1 Independent have signed the pledge. However, now that the election results have been tallied and the winners declared, there are only 31 out of 72 who are in a position to make good on their promise. They are:

Sheryl Allen, House District 19 (R)
Trisha Beck (NEW), House District 48 (D)
Laura Black (NEW), House District 45 (D)
Rebecca Chavez-Houck, House District 24 (D)
Tim Cosgrove, House District 44 (D)
Jim Dunnigan, House District 39 (R)
Becky Edwards (NEW), House District 20 (R)
Richard K. Ellis, (NEW), State Treasurer (R)
Julie Fisher, House District 17 (R)
Gage Froerer, House District 8 (R)
Kevin S. Garn, House District 16 (R)
Francis D. Gibson (NEW), House District 65 (R)
Richard Greenwood, House District 12 (R)
Greg Hughes, House District 51 (R)
Christine Johnson, House District 25 (D)
Pat Jones, Senate District 4 (D)*
Dan Liljenquist (NEW), Senate District 23 (R)
David Litvak, House District 26 (D)
Steve Mascaro, House District 47 (R)
Scott McCoy, Senate District 2 (D)
Ronda Rudd Menlove, House District 1 (R)
Karen Morgan (NEW), Senate District 8 (D)**
Marie H. Poulson (NEW), House District 46 (D)
Kraig Powell (NEW), House District 54 (R)
Luz Robles, (NEW), Senate District 1 (D)
Paul Ray, House District 13 (R)
Phil Riesen, House District 36 (D)
Jay Seegmiller (NEW), House District 49 (D)
Jennifer Seelig, House District 23 (D)
Carol Spackman Moss, House District 37 (D)
Christine F. Watkins (NEW), House District 69 (D)

Hopefully there are more legislators who support the pledge but for one reason or another have not signed it. I find it interesting that of all the signers only one current legislator (Pat Jones) who wasn't running for re-election bothered to sign the pledge. I don't believe Utahns for Public Schools meant for this to be a campaign tool, although that's what it ended up being. I would challenge any legislator not listed above to get a signed copy of the pledge in the mail ASAP. There was a time when your word was as good as gold, and perhaps it is for some of you, but how are we to know you care? I suppose we could email or call and ask each one of you individually, but why not let us all know by signing the pledge? If you're not in favor of ethics reform or if you disagree with certain points of the pledge, feel free to post a comment here and let us know what you would do differently. The people, your constituents, are interested in a change. The only people who can make that happen is you, the lawmakers. Now, more then ever, you can see that a change is needed. I personally hope that ethics reform goes beyond the points listed in the Utahns for Public Schools pledge (such as the formation of an independent ethics commission), but let's start somewhere! Please let us know that you hear us!

*Incumbent that did not run for re-election in 2008
**Retired seat in House (District 46), new to Senate