Constitutional Amendment D establishes a five-member legislative ethics commission with authority to conduct an independent review of complaints alleging unethical legislative behavior.
Current provisions of the Utah Constitution
The Utah Constitution currently authorizes the Utah House of Representatives to punish a member of the House, and the Utah Senate to punish a member of the Senate, for "disorderly conduct." Although "disorderly conduct" is not defined in the Utah Constitution, the Legislature has interpreted that term to refer to a violation of the Legislature's Code of Official Conduct or to a legislator's improper conduct while acting as a legislator that would reflect discredit upon the House or Senate. The Utah Constitution also authorizes the House and Senate, with a two-thirds vote, to expel a member of its respective house for cause. The Utah Constitution does not specify the process that the House or Senate must use to decide whether to punish or expel a member but leaves it to each house to define that process.
Effect of Constitutional Amendment D
Constitutional Amendment D establishes a legislative ethics commission to participate in the process of evaluating complaints alleging unethical legislative behavior. Under the Amendment, the legislative ethics commission has authority to conduct an independent review to determine whether a complaint merits further consideration by the house of the member against whom the complaint is made. The decision whether to punish or expel a member of the Utah House of Representatives would remain with the House, and the decision whether to punish or expel a member of the Utah Senate would remain with the Senate.
The Amendment requires the legislative ethics commission to have five members. It prohibits a sitting legislator or registered lobbyist from being a member of the commission.
The Amendment also authorizes the Legislature to provide in its internal rules for:
1) the procedures and requirements for filing a complaint alleging unethical legislative behavior;
2) the qualifications, appointment, and terms of commission members; and
3) the duties, powers, operations, and procedures of the commission.
Constitutional Amendment D does not affect the authority of the House or Senate to establish internal rules to govern other aspects of the process of determining whether to punish or expel a member.
If approved by voters, Constitutional Amendment D takes effect January 1, 2011.
Costs to the state associated with Constitutional Amendment D will depend on the content of legislative rules allowed under the Amendment. Based on current legislative rules, costs could range from $700 per year to significantly higher, depending on the number of complaints filed and the nature of those complaints. Constitutional Amendment D will have no direct, measurable impact on state revenues or on local government costs or revenues.
[ ] FOR
[ ] AGAINST
Shall the Utah Constitution be amended to:
* establish a five-member legislative ethics commission whose members may not include sitting legislators or registered lobbyists;
* authorize the commission to conduct an independent review of complaints alleging unethical legislative behavior; and
* authorize the Legislature to provide for:
* procedures and requirements for filing a complaint;
* the qualifications, appointment, and terms of commission members; and
* commission duties, powers, operations, and procedures?