A bill to create a state code of ethics for elected and appointed officials, legislators, and all state employees was passed unanimously by the Vermont Senate on Wednesday. A majority of other states already have similar codes. The measure, which now goes to the House, also would apply to individuals appointed to state boards and commissions or who are authorized to act or speak on behalf of the state. Anyone who violates the code of ethics can be investigated by the Vermont State Ethics Commission. ”Especially at a time when faith in democratic institutions is so low, it’s important that state officials and employees from the governor on down be held to the same standards of ethical conduct when representing the State,” Sen. Anthony Pollina, from Washington County, said by email. “And it’s important for Vermonters to know their voices will be heard” if they have questions about a public officials’ conduct, Pollina said. The bill also calls for mandatory ethics training within the first four months of public service and at least once every three years after that. Those individuals also may report ethics violations to the Vermont State Ethics Commission without fear of reprisal, intimidation or retaliation, the bill states. If passed by the House and signed by Gov. Scott, the measure would take effect on July 1.
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