"Diverse weights and diverse measures,
They are both alike, an abomination to the Lord."
Update: Apparently, the Ethics bill was heard in House State Affairs last week; doesn't change the underlying point of the post.
The centerpiece on the 84th Legislature’s table isn’t getting the attention the governor hoped for.Byron Cook
In his mid-February State of the State speech, Gov. Greg Abbott tried to put ethics reform high on the agenda, telling the Legislature, “Let’s dedicate this session to ethics.” He added it to his list of five “emergency” items that could get expedited treatment by lawmakers.
He pointed to ideas in his “blueprint” for the state, “like requiring elected officials to disclose contracts they have with public entities, prohibiting lawmakers from voting on legislation from which they could profit and more disclosure of campaign finance information.”
Abbott told lawmakers that a failure to act would threaten the bonds between them and their constituents, “and rightfully raise suspicions about who we truly serve — ourselves, or the people of Texas.”
But not a lot has changed, and only two weeks remain before the session ends. Further reform is still possible, but the most significant changes being proposed still haven’t been considered by the Texas House, much less by a committee that would have to reconcile the Senate and House versions of reform
But the contract and income disclosures that Abbott wanted remain undone. Those would require lawmakers to reveal contracts and business relationships with government contractors that currently go undocumented. Lower limits on how much money lobbyists can spend on lawmakers without identifying those lawmakers is stuck.
Time is short. A House committee has the legislation now, and has until the end of the week to send it to the full House, which in turn has to act on it by May 26.
Representative Byron Cook: (512) 463-0730