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Our view: A key point in Pence’s agenda

THE FIRST AMENDMENT

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Updated: February 25, 2013 12:09PM



Mike Pence didn’t waste any time getting to work after being sworn in as Indiana governor.

The afternoon following the Jan. 14 ceremony, he issued 15 executive orders, putting a number of his core political beliefs into action with directives on ethics, red tape, and boosting jobs among military veterans.

One of the directives requires every state agency to appoint an ethics officer charged with promoting transparency and integrity in government. His order also calls on the state inspector general to hold an ethics conference each year to serve as a refresher on the topic.

This is an important step, philosophically and practically.

First, it sends a message that government will be operated above board and in the open. It underscores the issue’s importance and bolsters confidence in the democratic process.

Second, Pence’s order does not grow out of any scandal or particular problem. But by setting up a protocol and ordering annual refreshers, state officials should be better equipped to prevent problematic situations from arising.

It would be helpful if, during the annual ethics conference, the state’s public access counselor offered a review and update on Indiana’s laws and regulations concerning open meetings and public records.

It would be an opportunity to make the point to government employees that the governing process works best when the public and public employees work as a team, and not at loggerheads or cross purposes.

It would be helpful if the governor’s proposed ethics refresher course were opened to public officials statewide. That would increase the impact and enhance the benefits.

In a democracy, it is vital that the public buy into the governing process. The greater the transparency in government, the greater the public confidence in the leaders and their decisions.

The governor’s order on ethics is a good first step toward a fully open administration.

The (Columbus) Republic



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