There are some complicating factors that those who have opposed Nielson's resolution have outlined. Those objections are not completely without merit, but the reluctance to go ahead with giving members of the House the option to pass seems to be largely a result of overthinking the issue.
Defining a conflict of interest can be difficult. That is particularly true of a part-time lawmaking body, such as the Utah Legislature, where most members have other jobs, businesses, interests and areas of expertise. And so do their spouses, children, friends and business associates.
Making it illegal for a member to vote on a bill in which he or she has a particular interest could also be read to bar members from offering the body the benefit of their own specialized knowledge. Insurance brokers would be silenced on insurance issues. Law enforcement officers could be forced to abstain on just about any change in criminal or traffic law.
Except. Nielson's resolution does not say why members should abstain, or even attempt to require that anyone do so. It says nothing about conflict of interest, nor does it attempt to define a conflict, or differentiate a troublesome conflict from useful expertise. All it would do would be to give each member the right to abstain, and an opportunity to publicly explain, then and there, on the floor, why, in that representative's opinion, it was the right thing to do.
Those choices could be evaluated by the public, particularly each member's constituents, to determine whether the abstention was a matter of ethics or just a disingenuous way to dodge a tough decision.
For a legislative body that has previously expressed admiration for the virtue of abstinence, it would seem a good fit to have a rule allowing a lawmaker to not do something that could have negative consequences.