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House of Representatives
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: February 2, 2015 03:44 PM
From: Representative Robert W. Godshall
To: All House members
Subject: Former HB 2525 - Code of Ethics Governing the PUC
In the near future, I will be re-introducing legislation to add additional requirements to the Code of Ethics governing the activity of the Public Utility Commission (PUC) commissioners. This legislation was previously introduced as HB 2525 (2013-2014.)

Section 319 of Title 66 (Public Utilities) contains a code of ethics for PUC commissioners and describes specific behaviors that are either required or prohibited for one to retain the position of commissioner. Unfortunately, the established code of ethics does not appear to be sufficient to deter certain behavior that, at a minimum, creates an appearance of impropriety and, at its worst, is an abuse of power.

Throughout this legislative session, newspaper articles and legislative committee hearing records have contained statements of commissioners that are derisive towards public utilities with cases pending before the PUC and give the impression that public utility participation in legislative and administrative processes is discouraged.

I am disappointed that the current code of ethics is insufficient to dissuade public statements to this effect and that additional legislation is necessary to explicitly prohibit this behavior by commissioners of such a highly respected agency. However, public statements made with the intent to dissuade or discourage participation in public proceedings cannot be permitted under any circumstances and are in conflict with the official duties of a commissioner.

My bill requires a commissioner to refrain from making public statements designed to discourage public utilities from participating in judicial or administrative processes. Additionally, a commissioner’s participation in the legislative process must not conflict with his or her official regulatory duties and commissioners must refrain from making public statements designed to exert pressure, influence or dissuade a public utility from participating in the legislative process.

Introduced as HB643