Diversity makes government great

Published 10:57 pm Monday, December 13, 2010

Last week as I sat in the House chambers pondering the ethics bills, I could not help but to question what is being called the strongest ethics bill in the United States. I am totally behind having strong ethics, but I am also concerned about having smart ethics. What defines ethics and who determines what is or isn’t ethical? Through this proposed ethics bill citizens have been promised a more transparent government. Transparency is about being honest with those to whom you are accountable. However, this bill of ethics cannot actually create honesty.

One of the main things to point out is that Democrats have sponsored many of these bills that are before the legislature. It is also notable that the PAC to PAC ban bill that passed the House Friday was named after former Democratic Rep. Jeff McLaughlin and Republican Congressman Mike Rogers. That was a longtime top priority for the House Democratic Caucus, and it passed the House 11 times before passing this time during the Special Session.

Senate Bill 3 (Double Dipping Prohibition Act) is a major concern for those who participate in the democratic process. It has far-reaching complications in regards to who can and cannot run for office. This bill bans members of the Legislature from being employed as teachers or in any other branch of the government with a few exceptions (those who are enlisted in the National Guard). We must ask the question why our government is so adamant about keeping teachers, state troopers, officers of the court, and other state employees from participating as candidates in the political process. As Americans we have always been proud of the fact that we have the freedom to become a candidate despite of our gender, race, or profession. If this bill passes in its current state, it will create an unhealthy democratic process. Only a select few will be able to participate as candidates. According to the proposed bill, even those who are retired from the state will be hindered from running for or holding political office. Why does it seem that state employees are being targeted? How is it that in our modern society certain professions can be excluded?

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Senate Bill 2 (Ban Payroll Deduction) also has far-reaching consequences. The government should not interfere with a citizen’s choice to support a particular organization. The passing of this bill will impact workers throughout the state. What is not being said in this process is that the monthly dues deducted from employees’ checks are optional. This bill simply seems to be an attempt to destroy the fabric of the democratic process. Traditionally, unions have supported Democratic candidates. So to bind a union will in turn handicap the political field. Good competition is great for the political process and balances our government.

What makes our democracy great is the diverse representation that we have among our elected officials. The current bills in their unaltered state will undoubtedly eliminate an entire group of worthy potential candidates from office and will unfairly weaken the competition. I must agree, ethics reform is necessary but reform should be fair in order to support honesty and transparency for all.