Shapleigh, Marquez on ethics commission: Do it
From the NPT Inbox:
Márquez And Shapleigh Urge County to Implement Ethics Bill Hard Fought County Legislation Ready for Local Action
EL PASO, TX- State Representative Marisa Márquez (D-El Paso) and State Senator Eliot Shapleigh (D-El Paso) held a joint press conference today urging citizens, governmental agencies and especially the El Paso County Commissioners Court to act immediately for effective reforms that will combat public corruption. Next week, El Paso County Commissioner’s Court will work to implement the El Paso County ethics bill, which becomes effective on September 1, 2009, but requires further action from the county to become effective in El Paso.
“We all have a stake in building a better El Paso and reforming the way government goes about its business. Capital and talent will not come to a community that carries the brand of corruption.” said Shapleigh. “Let’s start now by creating an effective ethics commission at the County of El Paso.”
The county ethics bill, SB 1368, which is the legislative companion to HB 2301, a contentious bill that State Representative Marisa Márquez (D-El Paso) authored and passed through the Texas House of Representatives, uses the power of state law to create a special authority for El Paso County to establish an independent ethics commission. The commission will have subpoena power and will adopt, publish, and enforce an ethics code governing county public servants. The commissioners court can either adopt an order or call a county-wide election to create the ethics commission.
“This bill paves the way for real progress in El Paso County, a way for us to become transparent, responsive, and accountable. El Pasoans deserve clean government and I am proud of the coordinated efforts of the Commissioners Court, Sen. Shapleigh and our offices in getting this important legislation passed. Now is the time for El Paso to lead the state once again and adopt the first ever county ethics commission in Texas,” said Marquez.
The ethics bill is unique in being the first bill to allow a county to create its own ethics commission. Under the new law, the county could create a ten member ethics commission that would review complaints and impose civil penalties of up to $4,000 for each violation. The County has scheduled a Special Session of the Commissioner’s Court to act on the Ethics Bill at 9am, September 1, 2009, at the Commissioners Court.