The League of Women Voters supports S.B. 623 which would, among other things, set up a legislative ethics committee in each house. If done properly and given the necessary powers, these committees could be very effective in giving guidance to fellow legislators, for setting up rules and procedures for avoiding conflict situations, and rules and procedures to follow when conflict situations arise, and possibly alerting individual members on their possible violation of ethics laws in their daily actions and behavior when such are brought to their attention. This process could save the State Ethics Commission from having to deal with too many frivolous complaints.
Enforcement of ethical behavior would be much easier when there is consensus on the part of the whole body that public esteem earned by the public perception of a group dedicated to the public good is a desirable thing, and that any individual who would damage that perception is harming the reputation and credibility of the institution which then reflects badly on each individual who are members of that institution. Its a matter of having pride in the institution.
The ban on fundraisers immediately before or during the legislative session is something we have always supported. The perception of money having too much influence in the enactment of laws will never be entirely removed under the present policies, but the ban on fundraisers during the period when lobbyists are hardest at work could work toward easing the suspicions. To lessen these problems, we would recommend the public funding of election campaigns.
We believe in the importance of public disclosure and support the intent of the amendment to Section 5. Thank you for hearing SB 623.