Austin, April 9 – The JD Lambright Local Government Ethics Reform Act passed the Texas Senate yesterday afternoon at 3:57 p.m., on a 30 to 1 vote. Senator Brandon Creighton, Republican of Conroe, spoke in favor of the legislation, which passed without additional discussion on the Floor of the Senate.
Very soon afterwards, Senator Creighton issued the following statement:
“J.D. Lambright was a friend and statesman, and I am honored that Senate Bill 710 passed the Senate today, ensuring his legacy of good government for generations to come. SB 710 provides a framework for local elected officials to adopt their own ethics commission, which will promote certainty and clarity, and encourage the highest ethical standards in local government.”
The Legislative Budget Board’s bill analysis says “Currently only certain counties may authorize their ethics board ( if they have one) to impose effective penalties against those who violate ethical standards. This leaves most counties unable to impose a civil penalty and can take little action when an elected official, lobbyist, or vendor violates ethical standards. SB 710 amends current law to remove restrictions on which counties may impose penalties , allowing all counties to choose wether or not to create a county ethics commission that may adopt and enforce ethics standards.”
Both the Montgomery County Commissioners Court and the Travis County Commissioners Court have endorsed SB 710. On March 26, the Montgomery County Commissioners Court voted 5 to 0 in favor of a resolution backing the bill.
Passing such legislation was a goal of Montgomery County Attorney JD Lambright who passed into the arms of the Lord on March 9, 2019, after a brief battle with cancer. Lambright, as County Attorney, had drafted a Code of Ethics for Montgomery County’s government, but the Code of Ethics is unenforceable, because counties lack such authority.
The Travis County Commissioners Court has endorsed the Lambright Local Government Ethics Law as well. Two individuals instrumental in supporting the proposed Lambright Legislation are Travis County Precinct 3 Commissioner Gerald Daugherty and that Travis County’s Intergovernmental Relations Director Deece Eckstein.
Travis County Commissioner Daugherty explained, “We have always been in support.”
Eckstein confirmed to The Golden Hammer that the Travis County Commissioners Court has supported the Lambright Legislation. “We support the bill,” Eckstein said.
State Representative Steve Toth, Republican of Conroe, has introduced House Bill 1495, which is similar to Senate Bill 710 but would only apply to Montgomery County and to El Paso County. The Texas House referred Toth’s bill, HB 1495, to the House County Affairs Committee, which conducted a hearing on the legislation last week. Montgomery County Attorney B.D. Griffin testified to the County Affairs Committee during the hearing in Austin last week.
State Representative Will Metcalf has indicated that he’ll support the Lambright Local Government Ethics Law as well.
Keough also noted, “What is especially significant to Montgomery County is the naming of this bill after our friend and fellow public servant JD Lambright. This legislation would allow his wonderful legacy to endure forever and benefit all Texans.”