For immediate release:
May 11, 2015
INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana House Democratic Leader Scott Pelath from Michigan City played a prominent role in passage of legislation detailing ethics reforms for lawmakers that stands as one of the highlights of the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly.
Pelath served as co-author of House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1002, which calls for tougher financial reporting requirements for legislators and closes loopholes in state law covering conflicts of interest. The legislation, authored by Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) and carried by Indiana Senate leadership in that chamber, was recently signed into law by Gov. Mike Pence.
Pelath said the reforms reflect a theme he identified at the start of the 2015 session, when he told his colleagues that “the people (of Indiana) will have no faith in anything we do here until we change the political system that traps us all and brings to the surface the fallen angels of our nature.”
Reflecting back on those words, Pelath said, “From the start, it has been the declared goal of legislative leadership on both sides of the aisle to find a common ground that enables us to correct the shortcomings in the expectations we have of ourselves. The reforms contained in HEA 1002 take several huge steps in meeting that goal, and I am particularly delighted that it achieved aims shared by all of us, rather than simply reflecting partisan ambitions.”
Highlights of the final bill include provisions that require legislators to disclose any investments they hold that total more than $5,000. The measure also closes loopholes that enabled state employees to get around “cooling-off” periods aimed at preventing them from using the expertise they gained in state government for immediate financial gain in the private sector. Legislators will be required to take an ethics training course, and an ethics office will be established within the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency to offer advice on potential conflicts of interest.
“These are all positive steps forward that address concerns raised by recent incidents in state government,” Pelath said. “I also realize that this is a constantly evolving area of concern, and that means we must remain vigilant to keep these ethics issues before us on a regular basis. The public demands accountability from its elected officials and we are duty-bound to deliver.”