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NPT Capitol: Marquez carries county ethics bill; Rodriguez: “A new day in El Paso”

In the “that-was-quick” category, a news release from the office of state Rep. Marisa Marquez, D-El Paso, noted that she was carrying the county’s ethics legislation.

For background on the county ethics bill (and its little hiccup along the way), click here and here.

For a little background on the love Marquez is starting to generate from the county, and the school district, click here.

Follow the jump to read the news release from Marquez re: ethics (by the way, did County Attorney Jose Rodriguez really say that — not to say he isn’t on board with the news release, it just sounds a little … enthusiastic).

Freshman State Rep. Marisa Marquez (D – El Paso) showed she was serious about reforming government as she filed sweeping legislation to help clean up El Paso County today. HB 2301 uses the power of state law to create a special authority for El Paso County to establish an independent ethics commission. The commission, if established, will have subpoena power and will adopt, publish, and enforce an ethics code governing county public servants.

“I’ve said that I want to change the way we serve our community. That’s why I’m so excited to file this bill. It paves the way for progress in El Paso County, a way for us to become transparent, responsive, and accountable,” advocated Marquez.

HB 2301 would empower the commissioners court to order the creation of a nine-member ethics board either through a majority vote or by calling a county-wide election.

“Rep. Marquez’s bold action to file this legislation today, which was also endorsed by our County Commissioners Court, gets them closer to having that demand fulfilled,” said El Paso county attorney Jose Rodriguez. “It is a new day in El Paso.”

Under HB 2301, the county ethics commission would have nine members. The county judge and the four commissioners would each appoint one person to the commission. The remaining four slots would be filled by an open-to-the-public application process.

The new commission would also have the power to issue advisory opinions and impose misdemeanor penalties of up to $4,000 for violations.

Sito Negron

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Written by newspapertreeelpaso

March 5, 2009 at 9:41 am

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. The problem with this bill lies in the ability of the board to impose criminal penalties, albiet misdemeanors, without the benefit of a trial. As follows:

    “The new commission would also have the power to issue advisory opinions and impose misdemeanor penalties of up to $4,000 for violations.”

    If this board is considered a legislative body, then a vote to detemine criminal liability would essentially be a ‘bill of attainder’. This is outlawed by the US Constitution under article 1 and article 4. There is also a Texas State Constitutional provision outlawing the same.

    In any case, a consensus board vote that proclaims that a party is guilty of a misdemeanor offence in the absence of a trial, would be a violation of the due process clause of the 14th amendment to the US Constitution.

    Putting aside the expected crimes to be perused by the board, that of extortion or bribery, suppose a board would consider unethical the proclamation of an elected official that a forum for discussing the legalization of marihuana be convened. We have already heard from some citizens, on this issue, that ‘some ideas simply should not be discussed’, or words to that effect. Is it conceivable that such an act of speech could be criminalized by such a board?

    Even if the body was limited to the consideration of crimes already described by the Texas Penal Code, the problem of allowing heresay statements and denying a whole litany of courtroom procedures, designed to objectively and fairly evaluate evidence, certainly seems to exist within what amounts to an ‘ad hoc’ committee meeting.

    Corda Shonerd

    March 6, 2009 at 2:38 pm

  2. Here is some more information on ‘bills of attainder’. As follows:

    “Within the U.S. Constitution, the clauses forbidding attainder laws serve two purposes. First, they reinforced the separation of powers, by forbidding the legislature to perform judicial functions—since the outcome of any such acts of legislature would of necessity take the form of a bill of attainder. Second, they embody the concept of due process, which was later reinforced by the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution. The text of the Constitution, Article I, Section 9; Clause 3 is:
    No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.”

    and:

    “A bill of attainder, is a legislative act which inflicts punishment without judicial trial and includes any legislative act which takes away the life, liberty or property of a particular named or easily ascertainable person or group of persons because the legislature thinks them guilty of conduct which deserves punishment.”

    It seems certain that the ethics commission, an arm of a legislative body, the County Commissioners’ Court would also be, itself, a legislative body. Hence, the rendering of convictions by a legislative body absent a jury trial.

    Corda Shonerd

    March 7, 2009 at 12:16 am


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