FUMO AND ORIE INTRODUCE LEGISLATION DESIGNED TO STRENGTHEN THE TURNPIKE’S CODE OF ETHICS
HARRISBURG, June 17, 2008 -- Today, Senator Vincent Fumo (D-Philadelphia) and Senator Jane Orie (R-Allegheny) announced the introduction of legislation to expand upon the Code of Conduct provisions contained in Act 44 of 2007.
Act 44 of 2007, passed last July to address the Commonwealth’s significant highway infrastructure and mass transit funding problems, significantly expanded the role of the Turnpike Commission. In response to the Transportation Funding and Reform Commission’s 2006 report, which emphasized the importance of cost savings and agency reforms in meeting the Commonwealth’s transportation needs, the Act also put in place a statutory code of conduct for the Commission and its staff.
As Act 44 moves towards full implementation, Orie and Fumo believe it is prudent to strengthen these ethics provisions to insure that commonwealth resources are maximized with regard to this important mission, and that the entity that bears this large responsibility is more fully accountable.
Whether perception or reality, media reports have routinely criticized the Turnpike Commission for conflicts of interest in its hiring and employment practices. “I believe that, as the new lead agency on many transportation issues, it is important that the Turnpike Commission vigilantly avoid even the appearance of impropriety in its conduct,” stated Orie. “This legislation will give clearer ground rules as well as consequences for situations in which it could be questioned that the taxpayers or tollpayers are not getting the best deal for their money.”
“The Turnpike Commission does an outstanding job when it comes to operating and maintaining the highway. We want them to have an ethics code that also sets a high standard of excellence throughout the entire agency,” said Fumo.
Under the Fumo and Orie proposal, the new code of conduct applying to commissioners and executive level employees would prohibit holding or seeking party office, would restrict business, employment and contractual activity, would prevent them from lobbying the Turnpike for one year after leaving the agency; would guard the release of confidential Turnpike information, and would require that they file financial disclosure statements and undergo ethics training.
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