Efforts to strengthen the state’s ethics laws soon enter a key phase in the 2008 legislative session.
The legislation would require public officials to provide more details about their assets and sources of income and place greater penalties on them for violating state ethics laws.
Probably this week House and Senate leaders will begin negotiations to iron out differences in the legislation passed by both chambers.
Among the issues is how a public official can establish a blind trust. It came to the forefront last year during the gubernatorial campaign when the state Ethics Commission allowed Gov. Haley Barbour to set up a blind trust, even though no state law governs the creation and maintenance of a such an arrangement.
Rep. Cecil Brown, D-Jackson, said if the ethics legislation passes, there will be guidelines for setting up blind trusts. Brown said that’s important, not just because of Barbour’s situation, but because of the possibility other public officials would create blind trusts.