Public oversight plays an important role in government ethics, but the public shouldn’t have to do all the policing. Public officials should enact moral and lawful restrictions that prevent dishonest officials from corrupting the democratic process.
As it has been in years past, ethics is a hot topic during the 2015 session. The burner under the SB54 compromise, Count My Vote (CMV), continues to be on high heat for those looking to overturn last year’s legislation as well as for Utah’s citizenry, which largely favors CMV. Another hot topic is campaign finance. Both parties are proposing campaign finance limitations; only six states, including Utah, have none. But firstly, the CMV debacle.
This year, there are two pieces of legislation looking to chip away at the popular CMV compromise. SB43, sponsored by Senator Scott Jenkins, seeks to delay the CMV compromise until the 2017 elections so that, according to the bill’s supporters, the Republican Party can get their logistics in order to have a direct primary. This bill would also give attorneys time with a lawsuit that the GOP has filed against the compromise.
Even worse is the proposed constitutional amendment, SJR2. This pretty little number would overturn the Count My Vote decision by making unconstitutional any law dictating how parties select their general election candidates, delegating more power to parties and less to the public. Both of these bills have come out of committee favorably. Fortunately, the Senate GOP has suggested it is unlikely these proposals will go much further during the 2015 session.
Campaign donation limits, favored by 68% of Utah’s registered voters, are being proposed in Rep. Brian King’s HB60. While there seems to be interest from Republicans and Democrats at the committee level, concerns remain that the bill doesn’t adequately address the issues that conceived it, namely the “dark money” behind the John Swallow scandal. The committee has tabled the bill for now as Rep. King makes revisions. Regardless of the outcome, it’s encouraging to see bipartisan collaboration on an issue such as this. Let’s hope something can be worked out to further separate money and policy.