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The Utah Senate passed legislation Tuesday that would create an ethics commission to hear complaints filed in cities, counties or other entities that don't have their own.

Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, the sponsor of SB180, third substitute, cited the recent example of allegations of unethical behavior in Cedar Hills. The complaint was filed with the 4th District Court, which forwarded it to the city attorney, who said he didn't have the authority to investigate ethical matters, just criminal.

"This bill doesn't infringe on political subdivisions if they choose to have their own ethics process or ordinance in place," Bramble said, "but it does provide a mechanism for hearing or resolving ethics complaints."

The bill passed unanimously and goes to the House.

The ethics process would be modeled after the system put in place to hear complaints against legislators, with a seven-member panel appointed by the governor.

The commission would meet in private to determine if there is merit to a complaint. If there is, staff would investigate and report back to the commission in a public meeting. The commission would vote on whether the accused violated ethics rules and could recommend the subdivision take action.

The city council or other officers of the subdivision would be responsible for imposing any penalties.

Robert Gehrke

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