Late in the evening yesterday, the Texas House passed SB 19, the much talked about ethics bill. The passage of the far stronger House ethics bill is a big step forward in the Governor’s goal of achieving substantial ethics reform this session and we are pleased that the house took on strengthening this bill.
The House version of SB 19 requires reporting of large sums of dark money, improved conflicts of interest standards, toughen disclosure laws, creates a legislative ethics officer to advise members, requires electronic filing of personal financial statements (PFS) in a searchable format. In addition it reduces pay to play politics by requiring PFS from Governor’s appointees at the time of appointment and disclosure of their campaign contributions to the Governor. While it does not shut the revolving door and prohibit lawmakers from immediately becoming lobbyists, it does prohibit legislators turned lobbyists from using campaign funds to contribute to other members or candidates. It also prohibits secret of taping of members.
We expect that the Senate will reject the house version of the bill and so ethics will once again become a cliffhanger bill resolved on the last night of the session as it has been so often in the past.