LANSING – State Representative Steve Marino (R-Harrison Township) introduced a three-bill package to enact common sense ethics reforms and ensure proper governance.
“The changes I’ve proposed will lead to increased transparency and ensure that bureaucrats are held accountable to the people,” Marino said. “Public service is a privilege, but not the privilege to use a position for private gain with the public’s hard-earned tax dollars.”
Marino’s bills amend the Standards of Conduct for Public Officers and Employees Act to:
- Prohibit a public official or employee’s immediate family from accepting gifts, loans, money, goods, services or anything else of value that may influence the public official or employee’s official duties.
- Prohibit a public official or employee’s immediate family from engaging in a business transaction or action involving confidential information that may result in financial gain for the public official or employee.
- Prohibit a public official or employee’s immediate family from participating in the negotiation or execution of a contract, making of loans, grants or subsidies, fixing of rates, issuance of permits or certificates, or other regulation or supervision concerning a business entity in which the public official or employee has a financial or personal interest.
- Require Board of Ethics members to recuse themselves from actions that may benefit themselves or their families.
- Prohibit Board of Ethics members and their families from accepting gifts that may create a conflict of interest.
- Prevent individuals from serving on the Board of Ethics if they have ever been convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor, or served as a registered lobbyist, statewide elected official or member of the Legislature.
The State Board of Ethics evaluates the ethical conduct of executive branch employees and other officials appointed to serve the public.
“All public officials are expected to use good judgement and serve the public well,” Marino said. “However, we also need to make sure the law is clear so public servants know exactly what’s expected of them, and to ensure they can be held accountable if they take part in any unethical behavior.”
In addition, Marino’s legislation requires the board to issue a public annual report detailing board actions, investigations and decisions. It also authorizes the Board of Ethics to advise public bodies on existing or proposed rules, regulations, legislation and ordinances that pertain to ethical conduct of public officials or employees.
“These changes will allow the Board of Ethics to take a more proactive approach and address ethics issues in all branches of government,” Marino said.
House Bills 4489-4491 were referred to the Elections and Ethics Committee.