Representatives of the Republican and Democratic caucuses in the Vermont House have agreed to a resolution that will require members of the House to disclose their place of employment and information about service on boards and commissions.
The resolution also creates an ethics panel that would consist of five lawmakers, three members from the majority party and two from the minority parties.
The ethics panel will have the authority to provide training on ethical conduct, including compliance with Rule 75, which says that "members shall not be permitted upon any question on which they are immediately and directly interested." The panel would investigate complaints and could recommend disciplinary actions against a member if necessary. Though House Rule 75, addresses conflict of interest broadly, lawmakers say they want more guidance on the matter.
The House Rules Committee will select members for the panel immediately, so that the panel can further develop the disclosure rules and prepare to train lawmakers on conflict of interest issues.
H.R.24 was on the House calendar for Thursday.
Once a year, on or before Dec. 31, the panel is to issue a report of the number of complaints filed, the disposition of complaints and the number of requests for ethical advice.
House Speaker Shap Smith has worked with a small multi-partisan group since the beginning of the year to create a framework for the new ethics rules. The Senate has not considered adopting ethics rules.
Rep. Don Turner, R-Milton, the Republican minority leader, said he is supportive of the disclosure rules and the creation of the panel. He said members need guidance on what might be considered a conflict of interest.
Vermont is one of three states that does not have an employer disclosure requirement for all lawmakers and statewide officeholders. Many states have ethics panels.