Local governments in Indiana will soon implement nepotism and conflict of interest policies—a move that will ban government employees from working directly with relatives or in two conflicting positions. That means some employees might have to give up their jobs.
The law passed earlier this year with large bipartisan support in an effort to increase transparency in government, and local governments now have to implement it in two stages. Cities, counties and townships must have a ban on nepotism by July 1. The conflict of interest policy takes effect January of next year.
Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett says the deadline has put some pressure on the city.
“We’re still getting the document approved right now, here we are in June, then we have to implement some internal procedures quickly and then we have to engage ourselves at the end of the calendar year and submit some paperwork to show that we’ve done it,” he says.
Bennett says out of good business policy, the city has not hired any family members for city positions, but elected positions are different.
Jim Chalos is a city councilman and works for the Terre Haute fire department. Under the law, that’s a conflict of interest.
“People in Terre Haute know that I’m a city fireman and I think it’s just another way the governor and the legislators are taking the rights of the people away,” he says. “I mean people have the right to vote for who they want.”
City Councilman Norm Laudermilk also works for the fire department. The two councilmen are allowed to finish out their terms, but will be forced to resign one of the positions when they come up for reelection in four years.