By Ramona du Houx
A proposed law to strengthen the state’s ethics code and guidelines for executive branch employees received final legislative approval this week.
The bill, LD 6, "Resolve, To Implement Recommendations of the Government Oversight Committee To Strengthen the Ethics Practices and Procedures for Executive Branch Employees," is based on the recommendations of the bipartisan Government Oversight Committee following the months long probe of the document shredding scandal in the state’s Center for Disease Control.
“I’m pleased to have the strong support in both the House and Senate. Document shredding and employee intimidation are unacceptable,” said Rep. Chuck Kruger, D-Thomaston, who is the sponsor of the bill and the House Chair of the Government Oversight Committee. “We urge the Governor to sign the bill.
The House and Senate passed the bills with strong votes of 134 to 13 and 27 to 5, respectively.
“Ethical boundaries and guidance should be clear in state government,” said State Senator Chris Johnson, D-Somerville, who serves on the Government Oversight Committee. “Providing this and a place for guidance or to report violations will ensure fewer problems from occurring such as the CDC scandal.”
The bill requires the Department of Administrative and Financial Services to develop a consolidated code of ethics and conduct for state employees.
Rep. Kruger introduced an amendment to the bill to drastically reduce the cost of the measure to under $100,000 per year. The lawmakers on the Government Oversight Committee dispute the nearly $1 million cost assigned to the measure by the Department of Administrative and Financial Affairs.
“Setting a stronger ethical standard shouldn’t cost the taxpayers a million dollars,” said Kruger.
The Governor has 10 days to sign or veto the bill before it becomes law.