Oregon House unanimously passes ethics legislation

The Oregon House today unanimously passed revisions to the State’s ethics laws seeking to address that problems cities, counties and special districts faced when ethics law revisions were passed two years ago.

While the bill largely addresses problems facing local volunteers and elected officials, Senate Bill 30 keeps intact the ethics changes that were the focus of Senate Bill 10 — requiring lawmakers to maintain strict ethical standards.

Two key changes were made to address problems facing local governments and commissions:

1. Removal of a provision that required those on public boards and commissions to report the names of numerous relatives.
2. Replacement of quarterly reports with one annual report.

“We heard the concerns of local volunteers and elected officials. We saw the resignations from boards and commissions. And we responded with the changes they need to operate more efficiently while maintaining the strict ethical standards we imposed on ourselves by banning gifts and travel paid for by special interest groups,” House Speaker Dave Hunt (D-Clackamas County) said.

State Rep. and Chair of the House Rules Committee Arnie Roblan (D-Coos Bay) carried the bill, which passed by a 59-0 vote on the House floor and now moves to the Senate.

Governor Ted Kulongoski is expected to sign the bill Wednesday.

“Our goal was never to make life so difficult for local governments and special districts that hundreds of people would resign,” Roblan said. “These changes today are the product of a year of work involving all sides of the issue. This bill is an agreement supported by everyone — from the cities and counties to those who work to get money and influence out of politics.”

Rep. Vicki Berger said her participation in crafting a workable solution came from the concerns of constituents.

“The changes we made respond directly to the concerns facing local boards and district. Volunteers are a critical part of keeping our cities, counties and communities thriving, and the ethics law we wrote simply went too far in hampering the ability of local governments and special districts to operate effectively,” said Berger (R-Salem).

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