MAJOR ETHICS REFORM PASSES UNANIMOUSLY OUT OF SENATE
First Bill Voted Out of the Senate this Session, Sen. Taylor Reiterates Ethics Reform Mantra: “Wide Support. No Excuses. Let’s Get This Done!”
AUSTIN, TX – State Senator Van Taylor released the following statement in response to SB 14, the Ethics Reform and Anti-Corruption Act of 2017, passing 31-0 out of the Senate Chamber. Declared an emergency item by Governor Abbott and a priority bill by Lieutenant Governor Patrick, this major ethics reform legislation became the first bill voted out of the Senate Chamber during the 2017 Legislative Session.
“Historic ethics reform is usually the result of major scandal. Thankfully, that is not the reason we passed Senate Bill 14 today. The ethics reform package that passed unanimously out of the Senate is unique in that it was born out of leadership. I want to thank Governor Greg Abbott, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, and so many of my fellow colleagues for their leadership in making meaningful ethics reform a priority.
“Most importantly, I want to thank the people. At the end of the day, this is not my bill, this is not Governor Abbott's bill, Lieutenant Governor Patrick's bill, or any other legislator’s bill. This is the people's bill. To have the honor of serving today, not only did our constituents give us their vote, they entrusted us to represent them above all else. This sacred compact, that we serve our constituents as their public servants, is at the core of our democracy. If that trust were to ever erode then everything else the Legislature does would suffer.
“That’s why this bill is needed. It is an affirmation to the people that our efforts to represent them rise above even the appearance of impropriety or self-service, and that after the dust settles from important public policy debates they have the confidence to know, in no uncertain terms, that we work for them no matter our party or position.
“Today was a proud day for the Texas Senate. The Senate moved decisively by passing S.B. 14 just one week after Governor Abbott declared ethics reform an emergency item. Passing meaningful ethics reform with 110 days left in the legislative session, the Senate has delivered to the people on this important issue with ample time for passage. As I said when I filed this bill: Wide Support. No Excuses. Let’s Get this Done!”
The provisions within the Ethics Reform and Anti-Corruption Act of 2017 stand upon four major pillars:
· Felon politicians losing their pension and office,
· Disclosure of government contracts, bond counsel, and legal referral fees
· Shining light on lobbyist wining and dining
· Establishing a clear line between elected officials and lobbyists
Combined, these pillars represent the largest ethics reform in a generation. Versions of each pillar earned overwhelming support last session, but for a variety of reasons ultimately did not make it to the Governor's desk to become law.
Specifically, SB 14 as passed out of the Senate would:
· Revoke tax-payer funded pensions of felon politicians
· Automatically eject felons from the Legislature and statewide elected office
· Require state officers and candidates for state office to disclose government contracts, bond counsel, and legal referral fees
· Cut the meals reporting threshold for lobbyists in half from 60% of per diem to 30% of per diem
· End the practice of “ticket splitting,” in which multiple lobbyists collaborate to make an expenditure above the reporting threshold
· Prohibit elected officials from registering as lobbyists
· Establish a "cooling off" period of one full legislative session before members of the Legislature may become lobbyists
· Institute two year freeze of campaign accounts before members of the Legislature may become lobbyists
Earlier this year Taylor penned a commentary piece for the Dallas Morning News in which he discussed last session's ethics reform failures and first outlined his plan for ethics reform in the 2017 legislative session.
Throughout his tenure in the Texas Legislature, Senator Taylor has been an outspoken champion for ethics reform, increasing transparency, terminating conflicts of interest, and eliminating corruption in state government. During the 2015 legislative session Taylor authored Governor Greg Abbott’s ethics reform legislation and got the bill passed out of the Senate unanimously.
A seventh generation Texan, local small businessman, and decorated Marine Officer, Van Taylor serves the majority of Collin County and a portion of Dallas County in the Texas Senate where he is widely recognized as a conservative leader. Taylor serves as Vice-Chairman of the Sunset Advisory Commission and is also member of the Natural Resources and Economic Development, Education, Health and Human Services, Intergovernmental Affairs, and Nominations Committees. Van and his wife, Anne, married after his return from Iraq and are the proud parents of three young girls. Van and his family reside in Plano near the land his great-grandfather farmed during the Great Depression.
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