Would you vote for this?

I invite you to read the ballot initiative on legislative ethics being pushed by Utahns for Ethical Government.
I’ll warn you, it’s long.
A good news story on it is found here, on this Web site. So is this detailed analysis.
This initiative addresses some real needs in state government. A lot of it is common sense stuff, such as companies not being allowed to hire lawmakers as top managers — a nice strategy if you have an issue pending on the Hill.
Some of it is a little questionable, such as a prohibition on lawmakers using foul language toward someone regarding a legislative matter, even in private.
I won’t go into great details. The links I provided contain all that. Here’s my take:
First, I’m not a huge fan of citizen initiatives. The regular legislative process allows for hearings, amendments and the usual tug and pull of politics that comes when representatives of different parties and interests tackle a matter. Initiative supporters are required to hold hearings, but the rest of the deliberative process isn’t there.
The public often accuses politicians of voting on bills they haven’t read. I’m assuming, given the size of this one, that if it makes the ballot it won’t get read by many people who end up voting on it, either.
And often, rather than really representing a public interest, initiatives are pushed by special interests who carefully try to manipulate public sentiments.
That said, if there ever was an issue tailor made for a ballot initiative, legislative ethics is it. Utah’s lawmakers have shamefully allowed a loosey-goosey atmosphere to prevail, leaving members of the public who actually pay attention to wonder whose interests their representatives are serving.
If it gets on the ballot, I’m guessing this one will pass. What do you think?

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About the Author

Jay Evensen

Jay Evensen is the Senior Editorial Columnist for the Deseret News. He has 32 years of journalism experience covering politics and a variety of other assignments at news organizations ranging from United Press International in New York City to the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Deseret News, where he has worked since 1986. During that time, he has won numerous local, regional and national awards. Most recently, he was given the Cameron Duncan Media Award, given annually in Washington, D.C., by the advocacy group RESULTS, to the journalist judged to have done the most to further the cause of the world's poorest people.

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