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Legislative rules require Utah lawmakers to complete three short ethics-training exercises online by the end of each year. Many of them cut it close in 2014, and a few missed the deadline.
Twelve did not finish until New Year's Eve, just squeaking under the year-end deadline. Another 18 finished Dec. 30, and three completed the work Dec. 29.
Seven were late: Reps. Mel Brown, R-Coalville; Rep. Edward Redd, R-Logan; Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan; Brad Last, R-Hurricane; Kay McIff, R-Richfield; Merrill Nelson, R-Grantsville; and Keven Stratton, R-Orem.
Ric Cantrell, chief of staff for the Senate, said the exercises are updated every year, and in 2014 the update was not made available until mid-November giving members a month and half or so to complete them.
He adds there's no particular penalty for missing the deadline.
"I had surgery on Dec. 19 and then I had some complications," Ivory explained about why he missed the year-end deadline. He did all three required exercises on Jan. 2. An attorney, he joked the training requires people to be awake, and not sedated as he was earlier because of surgery.
McIff said the deadline "just got by me." An attorney and former judge, he said he was busy with a big trial late in the year. "I'm embarrassed. I will finish it [the training] soon."
"I just didn't get to it in time," Nelson, also an attorney, said. "I just didn't have time for it in the holidays. I had a lot of legislative matters, a lot of family matters and a lot of work matters."
Those three still praise the training, and say it is important.
"It's a worthwhile reminder that you have to be sensitive and attuned to potential conflict," McIff said. "The ultimate test, and one difficult to employ in a question-and-answer format, is how committed people are to fairness and being completely aboveboard and proper in the way they conduct their affairs. I hope I do that."
Ivory said, "We should be reminded of those things." Nelson added, "It's a good reminder of what our obligations are."
Topics for the three exercises lawmakers must complete are ethics, campaign finances and lobbyist disclosure and regulation. The public can see and do the exercises online at le.utah.gov/ethics/LegislativeEthics#.
On a bright note, many incoming freshmen appear to be setting a good example for their longer-serving colleagues by completing training even before they took office even though rules give them a year to complete it.
Four new freshmen completed training in December, before they took office on Jan. 1.
Those early birds include new Sens. Ann Millner, R-Ogden, and Al Jackson, R-Highland, and new Reps. Justin Fawson, R-North Ogden and Sophia DiCaro, R-West Valley City.
Also, new Sen. Jani Iwamoto, D-Holladay, finished her training on Jan. 2, her second official day in office.