Woody changed mind about ethics bill

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By Damon Lawrence

A bill that would have exempted members of the Roane County Planning Commission from filing statements of interests to the Tennessee Ethics Commission has been withdrawn in both the state House and Senate.

Roane County Executive Ron Woody said he asked state Rep. Kent Calfee and state Sen. Ken Yager to introduce the bill in their respective chambers.

“And I asked them to pull it,” Woody said.

The bill was withdrawn in the House and Senate last week.

Woody said he asked the legislators to withdraw the bill because there was a lot of misunderstanding about it.

The bill would have amended the state law that requires local and regional planning commission members to disclose financial interests and conflicts of interest.

In addition to Roane, it would have also applied to Campbell, Fentress, Morgan, Pickett, Rhea and Scott counties. All are counties in Yager’s 12th Senatorial District.

Woody said one of the problems he has with the current law is that many public officials who are required to make disclosures aren’t even doing so.

“So you have a law out there that’s in place that people are not complying with,” he said. “It doesn’t make sense to expand that to another board, so we can have even more people who may not comply.”

Some of the disclosures required under current law have to do with private income and investments.

“It may make a whole lot of sense to have ethical regulations that members of our planning commission would disclose their real estate holdings,” Woody said.

“But I could care less if they own stock in GM, Ford, or have a house in Maui. That’s not getting to the problem.”

“The problem that they try to deal with is they don’t want to have somebody enriching themselves as they vote on a project,” Woody added. “This (current law) legislation didn’t do it.”