[r40] Rep. Steuerwald: Transparency imperative to safeguarding public trust

Posted by: Lindsay Devlin  | Monday, October 20, 2014

STATEHOUSE- State Representative Greg Steuerwald (R-Avon) chaired the first Statutory Committee on Ethics meeting since the House Republican Caucus announced their 2015 Legislative Agenda, which included ethics reform as a priority for next session.

“The issue of government transparency is of critical importance and imperative to safeguarding Hoosier trust,” said Rep. Steuerwald. “I am pleased that the House Republicans have made this a priority next session, and I am looking forward to diligently addressing some of the issues that were brought up during today’s committee meeting.”

The Statutory Committee on Ethics is a bipartisan committee, comprised of six state representatives and is responsible for recommending a code of ethics each legislative session.  The committee is charged with receiving and hearing any complaint that alleges a breach of the code of ethics, obtain information regarding any ethics complaints that are filed, recommend any sanctions that are appropriate for violations and to act as an advisory body with regards to any questions a member of the General Assembly may have about ethics or conflict of interest.

During the meeting, the committee heard testimony from Peggy Kerns, Director of the Center for Ethics in Government, who submitted findings on how Indiana’s financial disclosure and statement of economic interest laws as well as potential conflict of interests compare with other states. According to the findings, Indiana is currently one of twenty states that requires legislators to disclose connections with lobbyists. Also, Indiana is one of 36 states that has a transparency portal which allows Hoosiers to take an in-depth look at how the Indiana government is operating and spending its money.

“I appreciate Peggy Kerns speaking today and providing members of the committee with useful information on how Indiana compares nationally and what other states are doing to improve their ethics laws,” said Rep. Steuerwald. “I found this meeting to be very informative about how Indiana compares to other states in relation to our code of ethics.”

Members of the committee will review today’s findings, in addition to testimony and information presented during previous meetings, in order to make legislative recommendations to the General Assembly in a final report.