Two Utah lawmakers have ties to nuclear plant

But Tilton and Noel see no conflict of interest

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 16 2007 12:00 a.m. MDT

"Not at all," he said, when asked if that was a conflict.

"The district is a public entity, like a city, a community, leasing water to them," meaning the nuclear power plant, he said. "We're a public utility. I work for the water district as a paid employee."

House Speaker Greg Curtis, R-Sandy, appoints committee chairmen and members. He said Monday that he couldn't comment on any specific conflict-of-interest matters, as he had to speak to Tilton and Noel.

He said he has no plans to reassign committee chairmen or committee members, but he would look into the matter.

House Minority Leader Ralph Becker, D-Salt Lake, who also is on the Public Utilities Interim Committee and is running for Salt Lake City mayor, said he can't presume what conflicts were or were not properly disclosed. But he said Tilton had the opportunity at the September meeting to explain any potential nuclear power conflicts but chose not to discuss his connection.

Becker said he takes issue with the Utah Legislature's relatively low bar on legislative conflicts of interest. Rather than excusing oneself from a vote, "You have to declare a conflict — that's all."

By rule, Utah legislators are required to vote on all bills or motions, even if they have a conflict.

A poll this past May by Dan Jones & Associates found that 84 percent of Utahns want lawmakers to be able to abstain from voting on a bill on which they have a personal or professional conflict. The poll also found that 77 percent of Utahns want greater disclosure of conflicts of interest.

E-mail: bau@desnews.com, bbjr@desnews.com

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