Erie County has their first new ethics law for elected officials in 30 years. County Executive Mark Poloncarz signed the new measure Wednesday.
The law contains more clarity in definitions and requirements for financial disclosure, disclosure of interest in county business, and other sections that increase transparency.
Poloncarz said the law was passed with a bipartisan and unanimous effort.
“The people of Erie County should know and be satisfied that upon the passage of this law not only do we have the strongest code of ethics in all of New York State,” said Poloncarz. “We have one of the strongest code of ethics and set of rules for any government in the United States.”
Erie County Legislator Minority Leader Joseph Lorigo said these improvements make the bill much stronger.
“There’s constant questions as to what elected officials have families working in government,” said Lorigo. “There’s this perception out there that it’s a friends and family type system and there’s a lot of nepotism. I think when people now see, who the ones actually having family working for the government, they’ll be surprised.”
The law will take effect once it’s filed with the secretary of state. Family members will then be required to be submitted to the clerk of the legislature by April 15. Shortly after, that information will be available to be viewed on their website.
Lorigo said the ethics law should be reviewed every 5-10 years.
“One of the things that’s important is the level of a gift that someone can receive. If the law was written 30 years ago, those dollar amounts are certainly different today than they were back then,” Lorigo said.
The new law was approved unanimously by the Erie County Legislature earlier this month.
Poloncarz said there’s many provisions from the old code of ethics that are staying.