BOISE-Today, Idaho’s Democratic Legislators introduced three ethics reform bills that give structure to the previously announced bill calling for Idaho to become the 42nd state to establish an Independent Ethics Commission. The Restore Ethics and Accountability Initiatives are absolutely necessary if an Independent Ethics Commission is to have any significant impact. We have a shared responsibility to improve the culture of state government and restore the people’s faith in the institutions that rightfully belong to them.
Since 2005, Idaho’s Democratic Caucus has been pushing for legislation to advance ethics reform in Idaho. In introducing the bills, Senate Minority Leader, Edgar Malepeai, said, “The need to restore the trust of Idahoans has never been greater and the time for meaningful ethics reform is now.”
The “Conflict of Interest Act” would strengthen Idaho’s financial disclosure laws for elected officials and candidates seeking public office. Idaho is one of only three states that don’t require public officials to disclose any personal interests that might conflict with their responsibility to the people. One of the bill’s sponsors, Senator Dan Schmidt of Moscow, said, “Trust doesn’t come with a job title; it must be earned. Financial disclosure laws promote openness, transparency, and honesty about potential conflicts of interest. This will help restore trust in our public institutions.”
The “Lobbyist Restriction Act” would bar Idaho’s executive officers or legislators from registering as lobbyists for one year after serving in office. This would slow the revolving door that leads too often to the appearance of conflicts at best and the opportunity for misconduct at worst. “The people of Idaho should never have to doubt that the decisions my colleagues and I make are to benefit Idaho rather than to enrich ourselves,” said Representative Grant Burgoyne who will co-sponsor the bill with Senator Les Bock.
Finally, “The Whistleblower Reporting & Protection Act,” co-sponsored by Representative Phylis King and Senator Diane Bilyeu, would enable active or retired state employees to report waste and violations of rule or law without fear of retaliation. Senator Bilyeu said, “Whistleblower protection is needed to ensure that we root out waste and abuse in state government.”