Grenn’s ethics bill setting new standards for next year
When lawmakers return to Juneau next January, they’ll face a new set of accountability standards.
This is thanks to a bill introduced by Rep. Jason Grenn (I-Anchorage), whose legislation has prospective implications for a ballot initiative with similar features.
It’s a sweeping bill that touches on a lawmaker’s per diem, ability to accept certain lobbyist gifts and financial backing from foreign corporations.
Grenn cosponsored House Bill 44 with Sitka Democrat Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, both of whom collaborated on the ballot initiative seeking similar changes.
The bill calls upon lawmakers to approve an operating budget within 121 days; otherwise, they lose their per diem for extra time spent on the budget.
This year, they passed the budget on Saturday, the 117th day, but last year, budget talks lasted until late June.
“When I ran for office for the first time (2016), I was hearing from neighbors on things like conflict of interest, things like excessive the per diem,” Grenn said. “As a new person, you can offer some insights that maybe this building sometimes forgets. When citizens of Alaska, when they are loud about something, they should pay attention.”
The bill also prohibits lobbyists from purchasing alcohol for lawmakers and limits meal purchases to under $15.
It also prohibits foreign corporations and citizens from making political expenditures on behalf of candidates in a state race.
If Walker signs the bill, the Department of Law and Division of Elections must decide if there are enough similarities, then it will be removed.
“Obviously, combined with the initiative, I think people in the building started realizing Alaskans are serious,” Grenn said. “They wanted reforms, and so again, I think Alaskans are who we should be thanking for making this happen. Without 45,000 people signing on to the initiative, I don’t think we get this across the finish line this year."
Copyright 2018 KTVA. All rights reserved.