What are legislatures doing to restore trust in government?

Author:Wilson, Ethan

Government ethics is so hot right now. The topic is de rigueur among policy wonks, watchdog organizations and media types across the country. The news, it seems, is filled with conflict this or conflict that, financial disclosures or outside income.


With information being disseminated more quickly and in more ways than ever, the actions of our nation's public officials and governing bodies are under an increasingly powerful magnifying glass. This raises a question : Is public tru st in government--a cornersto ne of representative democracy--decreasing in America?

The answer requires some educated conjecture. Polls ebb and flow depending on who's conducting them. And, left or right, many medi a outlets tend to let some level of ideology through. But based on what we read and hear, it does appear that trust in government is trending the wrong way. Some of the res ulting concern may be warranted, some of it not. With so many flawed metrics, how can we get a read on the status of trust in government?

We can begin to find a nswers by looking at the work our legislators are doing. For all the discussion of ethics laws at all levels of government, one thing is clear: State lawmakers a re responding.

At least 520 ethics bills had been introduced in at least 43 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico by mid-April of this year.

Topics include conflicts of interest, fin ancial di scl os ure, outside income, gifts and...

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