Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
One Utah ethics bill advances, one flounders
First Published Mar 04 2013 09:16 am • Last Updated Mar 11 2013 10:12 pm

Utah legislators may soon bar themselves from accepting donations while on Capitol Hill — but have decided to continue voting on bills even if they have conflicts of interest.

The House Rules Committee on Monday unanimously endorsed HJR16, which would prohibit accepting donations on Capitol Hill, and sent it to the full House.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Its sponsor, House Majority Whip Greg Hughes, R-Draper, noted that rules already ban lawmakers from accepting donations anywhere when the Legislature is in session (and it is illegal for someone to make such a contribution). But he noted nothing bars members from accepting donations at the Capitol campus during interim meetings and said donations often have been made there as a matter of convenience to members gathering from around the state.

"We should not have that [accepting donations] happen at the same time we are talking specific policy," Hughes said. "Campaign contributions would be left to another day" with the rule change.

Meanwhile, the committee decided to defer action on HR1, which would allow members to abstain on votes when they may have a conflict of interest — and instead called for studying it during interim meetings later this year.

Its sponsor, Rep. Jim Nielson, R-Bountiful, said members currently have no choice but to vote on a bill even if they have a conflict, or "take a walk" away from the House chamber. He said 25 states now ban their House members from voting when they have a conflict of interest, and another 23 allow members to vote "present" whenever they choose.

Nielson said his rule change would allow officials "to stand down when appropriate."

But Rep. Eric Hutchings, R-Kearns, said, "this is a live hand grenade." He said if people make a mistake, and don’t abstain on something that is a potential conflict, "you will be called on the carpet, and you may have hell to pay." He said it may lead to much less voting by members.

An unsuccessful attempt also was made in 2010 to allow abstaining when members had conflicts of interest. Nielson said that proposal died mostly because it tried to define what conflicts of interest are, while his current proposal would leave it to the judgment and conscience of members.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.