[r31] Eliminating nepotism in government (2/6/2012)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Start Date: 2/6/2012
End Date: 2/6/2012

I am happy to report that we passed 72 pieces of legislation out of the House onto the Senate for further discussion this week. Additionally, the governor signed the first House Bill (HB) of the session into law on Wednesday.

Included in the many bills we passed were my two concerning nepotism at the state and local government levels.

This legislation has not always been agreeable with my colleagues. As such, we discussed it profusely in the House Committee on Government and Regulatory Reform and on the House Floor before its final passage.

However, regulation concerning nepotism in state government is not a new concept for Indiana. Our state’s current nepotism statute has been in place since 1941; however HB 1250 would help clarify the current law.

First and foremost, it would prohibit state employees from directly hiring relatives, which is an ethical conflict. Furthermore, HB 1250 would prohibit a state employee from being in supervision of a relative – whether or not it is direct. This stipulation applies all the way up the chain of command to agency directors.

These provisions were included in HB 1250 to safeguard the integrity of state agencies and protect the employees. Nepotism shows preference to relatives of current employees, while potentially excluding other deserving candidates. It can also lead to preferentialism among state employees when relatives have an unfair advantage in advancing their career at an agency.

HB 1005 addresses nepotism at the local government – where no laws currently exist. If enacted, it would provide similar stipulations as those in HB 1250. However, HB 1005 also includes provisions on conflict of interest for local government.

This bill addresses conflict of interest by specifying that a public employee may not hold an elected position in their respective unit’s legislative or fiscal body. These governing bodies oversee the units and set salaries, which is a conflict. Anyone may run for these elected offices, but they would not be able to hold both positions simultaneously under HB 1005.

As a public servant, I think it is important to promote transparency and be proud of what we do to serve our constituents on a daily basis. Eliminating nepotism and conflict of interest throughout government is a step in the right direction.