From Banner Graphic staff reports
INDIANAPOLIS -- Senate lawmakers approved by a vote 38-11 recently legislation aimed at removing conflicts of interest that arise when local government employees serve on the city or county council or in executive offices that oversee their agencies.
Senate Bill 166, authored by Sen. Connie Lawson (R-Danville) forces the decision: Do I want to be an employee, or do I want to serve on the executive or fiscal body of the county, city, town or township?
"It is a clear conflict of interest for a public employee to serve in the capacity of an elected official and make decisions on things like budgets and office policies they will directly benefit from," Lawson said. "This conflict of interest makes Hoosiers question the integrity of our public officials and it's my hope with legislation like this we can begin to increase public trust."
Lawson's bill allows employees who are currently serving or are elected in this fall's municipal elections to serve out their term of office without having to leave their job.
The legislation does not prohibit an employee of a local government unit from holding another elected office as long as it does not have direct oversight for their agency budget and operations, Lawson said.
Lawson said Gov. Mitch Daniels in January outlined the need for legislation like this in his 2011 State of the State Address.
"The conflict of interest when double-dipping government workers simultaneously sit on city or county councils, interrogating their own supervisors and deciding their own salaries, must end," Daniels said in his address.
SB 166 now moves to the House of Representatives for further consideration.