By Ryan Joyner
Lawmakers are considering eight bills to thwart future corruption in the wake of allegations of wrongdoing and the resignation of former Utah Attorney General John Swallow.
The bills, debated on Friday, Feb. 21, echo statements made by Rep. Francis Gibson, R-Mapleton and part of the Swallow investigative committee, to make good on promises “to make sure that [this] doesn’t happen again.” The bills include:
2014FL-1158 Unlawful Activities Amendments –- Focuses on obstruction of justice and investigation for audits as well as expanding base crimes to include tampering with evidence and would establish a three strikes system or penalty for every offense with enhanced penalty after third strike to second-degree felony.
2014FL-1159 Legislative Powers Amendments –- Is still in drafting process and concerns subpoenas and investigative parties ability to investigate the Legislature.
HB144 Election Complaints — Establishes a board of elections that would provide counsel and assistance to the lieutenant governor.
HB246 Failure to report – “Did not deal with allegations made against Swallow” said Bill Sponsor Rep. Craig R. Hall, Salt Lake County. “But I am aware that their are candidates that are aware there are no penalties for not filing within 30 days.”
Fines in the bill would be enforced on a percentage basis. Which was provided as incentive to avoid serving interests of some candidates to not report because of minimal fines.
The majority of committee concerns about bills reflected statements made by Rep. Jim Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville, in February who was quoted in the Deseret News as saying, “What we don’t want the tiger to do is bite someone who shouldn’t be bitten,”
Committee members showed concern as they assessed the potential for bills that without revisions might have penalized innocent contributors by adding contributor titles to investigative files.