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Government

Senators Modify Language In Ethics Reform Bill Before Vote

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Noah Coffey
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https://www.flickr.com/photos/noahwesley/

It‘s the Senate‘s turn next week to take up an ethics reform bill. Senate leaders tweaked some wording in the ethics bill before sending it to the floor.

House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis), who authored the bill, says the changes plug one potentially significant loophole, extending a ban on former executive-branch employees doing business with their old agencies to cover them even if they‘re independent contractors.

Bosma says the four caucus leaders -- Bosma, Senate President David Long (R-Fort Wayne), House Minority Leader Scott Pelath (D-Michigan City) and Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) -- spent several hours Wednesday on wording to make the bill‘s requirements as unambiguous as possible.

“Senator Lanane, Senator Long, Representative Pelath, myself and our attorneys and a few more legislators sat down and worked for several hours through the bill and I think we landed on an excellent spot. I think it’s one of the strongest ethics, transparency statements we’ve seen in the state,” Bosma says.

Bosma says he’s happy with the Senate changes.

“We made clearer that the sale of a legislator’s home to a third-party, that person’s name, the purchaser, doesn’t have to be plastered all over the internet. It’s just a lot of smart clarifications that I think will strengthen our ethics system,” Bosma says.

Long says the changes will make state government more transparent, and strengthen the process by giving the State Ethics Commission more responsibility for reviewing possible violations or conflicts of interest.

The bill adds new financial disclosure requirements for legislators in the wake of last year‘s controversy surrounding then-Rep. Eric Turner (R-Cicero).

Legislators would have to report financial interests of their children, not just spouses. They would also be required to disclose ownership in holding companies or other intermediary investments which give them an indirect stake in a business.

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