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As session begins to wrap up, ethics commission is dead for the year

As session begins to wrap up, ethics commission is dead for the year

Dustin Hurst
March 6, 2012

Partisan gridlock has doomed the creation of an independent ethics commission proposed by Democrats earlier this year to monitor public official behavior.

Legislative leaders announced as much at a Tuesday lunch with reporters, saying that disagreements about how the commission would conduct its business could not be resolved in a bipartisan joint task force of House and Senate members.

That doesn’t mean all ethics legislation is dead, however. A couple of measures, including one to end the so-called revolving door practice when officials leave public institutions only to take private sector jobs that deal directly with their prior positions, could come forward this year. A bill requiring lawmakers to disclose assets and income sources is also on the table in the next few weeks.

Democrats originally pushed the ethics commission in the first two weeks of the legislative session. The panel would have been housed within the attorney general’s office and would have fielded complaints about public officials’ behavior.

The commission would have had jurisdiction to review complaints against officials in all levels of state government, not just the legislative branch.

Legislative leaders are hoping to end the 2012 session by March 23.

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