It appears that, at least in some form, the Legislature will have stricter ethical standards next year, including an independent ethics commission. Yes, commissioners will be appointed by the Legislature, a flaw that supporters of an ethics initiative say nullifies the independence. But with a formula that seats three retired judges and two former legislators serving as the commissioners, the potential exists for actual enforcement of ethics rules, depending, of course, on who gets appointed. At the very least, it is proof that the threat of an ethics ballot initiative is forcing legislators to deal with ethics internally, something they have not done very well in the past.
Unless Gov. Gary Herbert vetoes House Bill 275, people can now have their names removed from initiative petitions up to a month after the deadline for collecting signatures. The change defies logic. After all, people cannot call and have their name added to the petition after the deadline, so why should they be able to remove it? Signing a petition is a civic duty not unlike voting—and, just as voters cannot go to the county clerk and ask for their votes to be changed weeks after elections, they should not be able to remove their signatures. Oh, and one more thing: People who signed a petition and then decided they oppose it can still vote it down at the polls. That’s the messy nature of democracy, a word that far too often is considered foul among legislators.