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Should lawmakers' spouses disclose their potential conflicts of interest?

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger under Minnesota legislature, Minnesota state senators, Democrats, Republicans Updated: March 12, 2014 - 5:00 PM

In an effort to shed more light on who is influencing lawmakers, a Senate panel on Wednesday approved a measure that would require disclosure of officials' spouses' financial interests.

"I really see it as an oversight," said Sen. Kent Eken, DFL-Twin Valley, who sponsored the measure.

Various studies have found that Minnesota has weaker financial disclosure requirements than many states. Many other states already require some financial disclosure from spouses, and some even require information about lawmakers and other officials' children.

But the idea has its detractors.

"I just really don’t see how we can force a spouse to comply with this statute," said Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson. He said he could not support the measure.

Sen. Ann Rest, DFL-New Hope, said she shared that "sense of umbrage."

"I'm going to vote for it but I, too, have some misgivings," she told Eken.

The measure would also ask lawmakers and other officials to disclosure the areas in which they have contracts to do consulting or independent contracting.

A similar measure is moving forward in the Minnesota House as well.

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