Two years ago, one of every eight Utah legislators technically violated an ethics rule by missing a deadline to complete online ethics training. Even worse, two of every five lobbyists also missed the deadline.
They did far better last year.
In 2011, only one state legislator missed the Dec. 31 deadline Â Rep. Kay McIff, R-Richfield, according to records obtained through an open-records law request by The Salt Lake Tribune. Joe Pyrah, chief of staff to House Speaker Becky Lockhart, said McIff finished the training a few days later.
Lobbyists did even better than lawmakers Â all 428 lobbyists registered with the state at the end of the year had completed the training.
Why the improvement?
"We had staff calling senators and reminding them to get it done," said Senate Chief of Staff Ric Cantrell. That came after the Tribune had reported less-than-stellar compliance in 2010.
Pyrah added, "As you can see by the dates when the training was completed, several members put it off until near the end of the year. But we called to remind them, more than once if necessary."
It was a little different with lobbyists. The Legislature passed a law last year that put the Lieutenant Governor's Office in charge of conducting and tracking their ethics training instead of the Legislature Â and it now will not renew a lobbyist's license until they have completed training.
New lobbyists must also complete the training before their licenses become effective, said Mark Thomas, chief of staff to Lt. Gov. Greg Bell. "So all the lobbyists in the state must do the training if they want to register."
The training includes numerous exercises to familiarize lawmakers and lobbyists about what gifts, donations and activities are and are not allowed. It takes away excuses that lawmakers or lobbyists did not realize that something violated the rules.