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Ethics Reform Takes Another Step Forward In Statehouse

A House committee Tuesday took a step forward toward bolstering the chamber’s code of ethics.

The proposed code prohibits representatives from advocating in matters where they have a direct personal or financial interest.

That includes anything that could affect the income of the member, their close relatives or any ownership interest they hold in a partnership, business or corporation.

House Ethics Committee Chairman Greg Steuerwald, R-Avon, says the committee also replaced the clause “strive to avoid" with “should avoid" when it comes to public or private advocacy on issues where there’s a conflict of interest.

“With a citizen legislature we have some expertise that other members may need to help them make decisions, but the difference is when that member becomes an advocate,” Steurwald says.

Ranking Minority Member Clyde Kersey, D-Terre Haute, helped develop the proposed changes.

“This will not stop a legislator from doing something that is unethical. But what it does is give a committee a document to look at to evaluate whether that action was unethical or not,” Kersey says.

Kersey says he doesn’t believe the code would have stopped former Rep. Eric Turner from working privately to kill a bill last session that would have hurt his family’s business.

But he says it does define clear standards for reviewing future cases.

The proposed code changes now move to the House Rules Committee.

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