Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Rep. considering co-sponsoring ‘code of conduct' bill
November 6th, 2008 @ 4:07pm
By Richard Piatt
The Republican Chair of Utah's House Ethics Committee is in favor of a bill that would address a 'code of conduct' among legislators.
Rep. Todd Kiser spoke about the growing support for ethics reform at a group of Professional Republican Women today.
After a flurry of ethics allegations this year, Kiser said behavior is worth a closer look. It's one of many ethics reform-type bills he and other lawmakers are talking about on Capitol Hill.
Kiser said, "Our official code of conduct isn't real clear, and I would like to work with her, to clarify the direction [of] our code of official conduct."
Kiser co-chairs the House Ethics Committee. During recent hearings, legal behavior and just plain good manners were topics the committee tackled.
Kiser answered questions about the issue and about the process at a luncheon of Professional Republican Women. Luncheon participant Ally Isom said, "When you have votes along party lines, you have to wonder is the process sound? Or are we having partisan dialogues in a process that needs to have objective outcomes?"
Former legislator Peggy Wallace said during the session there is unique pressure at the Capitol. She said, "You run into principles of honesty, you run into ethics of things like coercion, or the impression that you have power and authority over an individual."
There is a long list of legislators who are planning to sponsor bills that address ethics reform in some way. The political will has never been stronger, from both the legislature and the governor, to actually pass meaningful ethics reform.
So far, lawmakers have proposed at least three bills that have to do with ethics for the upcoming legislative session. Many more are expected.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Being Prepared Serves Lawmaker Well - Dated Oct. 14th
By GM Jarrard
His is not a household name.
He doesn’t usually grab headlines or preen for the cameras.
Even if you lived in his Sandy legislative district, you probably wouldn’t recognize him if you passed him on the street — unless you’ve been on a lot of Boy Scout camps.
His name is Todd Kiser, a state lawmaker who has usually operated quietly and behind the scenes, but who has suddenly been thrust into the limelight as chairman of the House Ethics Committee. With his reputation as a straight shooter, the respect he enjoys on both sides of the aisle, and his thorough, but non-confrontational, nature, Kiser is actually the perfect person for the job.
Kiser’s committee, co-chaired by Democratic Rep. LaWanna “Lou” Shurtliff, is in the middle of some tough, delicate, high-profile, politically-charged hearings dealing with dueling ethics complaints filed by opposing groups of legislators.
While presiding over such hearings is really a no-win situation, Kiser is respected as someone who will seek the truth, be fair to both sides, and let the outcome be dictated by the facts.
Kiser was interviewed for this profile before the ethics charges arose. He is currently not talking to the news media about that matter.
After the last legislative session, the Deseret News described Kiser as “a smart legislator.” In a March 31 analysis of the legislative session just completed, staff writers Lee Davidson and Bob Bernick explained that “smart legislators know how to work the process to get their bills passed.”
The article pointed out that “Rep. Todd Kiser, R-Sandy, passed 100 percent of his bills — six for six.” And, the writers noted, “he scored a rare double-double in 2008: He also managed to attend all the votes in his legislative committees, the only lawmaker to pass all of his bills and have a perfect committee voting record. Kiser said he worked hard during the legislative interim last year to prepare bills that were vetted not only by many legislators but also by all other concerned parties. ‘I had one bill that had both the insurance industry and the trial lawyer association in favor of it,’ said Kiser, an insurance agent by profession. ‘How often does that happen?’ But it also takes some luck and proper timing to get all of one's bills passed into law. ‘I worked on one bill for the last four years — tweaking it every year,’ he said. ‘And this year it finally passed.’”
Kiser doesn’t claim to be brilliant. But, he does have a strategy. Over the past couple of decades, if you had followed him on weekends on hikes and camps, you might have just figured out the secret of his success.
Over many years, he has spent hundreds of weekends with 12 and 13-year-old boys in snow caves, on back country trails and at dusty campsites showing them the ropes — literally.
Kiser is a Woodbadge-trained leader of boys and maker of men. Over the years, he has tried to practice what he has constantly preached. He has tried to live up to the motto that he has taught his Scouts:
His lesson is a good Scout can be just about anything he wants to be if he prepares himself and works hard.
He works hard as an insurance agent; he works hard being a father to his nine children; he works hard as a Scout leader. And he also works hard representing legislative district No. 41 in Sandy. Keeping a smile on your face when you’re policing a bunch of Scouts or selling a liability policy to a crusty old codger who hates to write checks both take patience and extraordinary people skills. Maybe that’s also a secret to his success. And an explanation why his bill-passing score last session was an extraordinary six for six.
“The most important work you do as a legislator is in the committees. That’s where you prepare yourself – that’s where you really learn the issues, where the hard work is done,” Kiser explained.
“Be prepared” is also a good motto for legislators who want to get their bills passed and their issues understood and accepted, Kiser said. In fact, he explained that one controversial bill that could have been a problem was resolved between the two opposing parties — the trial attorneys and the insurance industry — even before it was ever introduced to the floor. It passed.
Todd Kiser points to three people in his life who helped prepare him for the challenges and opportunities life would present: his father, his father-in-law and his high school basketball coach.
As a boy, Todd and the rest of the family followed their Navy military father around from one exotic place to another. Along the way, he was able to watch his father put into practice what he taught: service is a debt we all owe to those around us. Todd had the opportunity to help us father — and then later his son — as they provided dental services to people in Third World countries, namely, the Philippines (with his father) and then later with his son in China for Operation Smile.
“It [service] has become a family tradition that we try to pass along,” Kiser said. His wife is trained as a nurse and has spent countless hours at the American Fork Training School.
Service has a way of helping children become prepared for what life throws your way, and the Kisers have tried to inculcate that in their nine children. And, it seems to be working.
“We love to grow things, tomatoes, zucchinis, all kinds of vegetables, and of course, children,” Todd reflected. The Law of the Harvest — what ye sow ye shall also reap — applies to children just as it does to squash.
Kiser watched that some principle applied in the life of his father-in-law as well. Leonard Driggs was a key figure at the Utah Boys Ranch and spent countless hours there working with young men who needed preparation for life. It was inspiring for Todd to watch him work and helped Scoutmaster Kiser in his later years.
“Leonard Driggs was also my mentor in the insurance business, too. He helped me get my start. He taught me how to sell, starting with getting leads. And, I watched him work with his Scouts. I learned from him that Scouting is not baby-sitting; it’s an important program to help boys grow into honest, hard-working men, if you follow it. Over the years, I’d go on at least 10 camps a year, including the winter. I learned later that southern Utah was the best place for a winter camp,” he said with a laugh.
Kiser noted that Scouting is a great place for boys to learn values and virtues they often don’t learn any other place, such as honesty and patriotism. As a Scout leader, Kiser has learned how important it is to work the program. But, he points out, the leader has to lead and get out of the way. It’s for the boys.
“I can recall numerous times pleading with a boy to finish a Merit badge or Eagle project so he could finish his program and get his Eagle award; but, you can’t do that. The boys have to learn how to accomplish those things for themselves.
“There aren’t many places left where you can learn that. And sadly, there are people with their own agendas that would undermine that if they could. I pray they won’t.”
Todd Kiser’s third mentor was his basketball coach in high school. At that time, Todd’s father was stationed in San Antonio, Texas, and that’s where young Todd met Paul Taylor.
“I loved basketball, and I considered myself a pretty good player,” Kiser reflects. “But, I learned a lot more about life and commitment and integrity from my coach than anything. All of us players had to sign a contract to play; we made certain commitments that we would be honest, wouldn’t cheat on or off the court, wouldn’t smoke or drink, that we’d live moral lives. I remember a couple of times when one boy was caught smoking and another overhead swearing. If they wanted to play again for Coach Taylor, they would have to do plenty of push-ups before they were back on the team. Today, we see coaches teach kids how to get away with this or that, how to avoid getting called for fouling; Paul Taylor wanted us to play ethically – no cheaters allowed. It’s too bad kids aren’t taught that today,” he said.
Those three examples in his life helped prepare him to be the doting Scoutmaster, and his Scouting experience led him into another arena: community service. And, that in turn was a gateway to his legislative service.
“Life’s experiences make you who you are. I never set out to be a politician — didn’t yearn for it, but opportunities serving others paved the way,” he explains.
Today, State Representative Todd Kiser serves as the chairman of the Transportation Standing Committee, chairman of the House Ethics Committee, and as a member of the Appropriations Committee for Transportation, Business and Labor Standing Committee. And, he has served on the Law-Enforcement and Criminal Justice Standing Committee.
Every workday, however, when the legislature is not in session, Todd Kiser is hard at it, writing insurance policies and making cold calls. He runs the Kiser-Lord Insurance Agency, earning what he needs to feed his family, grow his garden and if and when called on again, go on a winter camp. That may not come again for awhile since he has new obligations at the State Capitol. But, if it does, like everything else he tackles in life, you can be assured of one thing:
He’ll be prepared.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Todd Kiser sees public education as one of the main engines behind job creation.
Todd supports the special funding to help students learn through reducing the number of students per class.
He also is a strong believer in parental choice, allowing parents the opportunity to make decisions about the educational choices of their sons and daughters.
Our children are not pegs that fit equally in a round hole. Students are different in abilities and interests, but Todd Kiser believes all should have the opportunity to succeed.
Adequate funding and a partnership between educators and parents is vital for the future of our children - the future of our state's economy.
If you agree, vote for Todd on Tuesday, Nov. 4
Education is a priority -
Adequate funding As your state representative, i will listen to your concerns and work to make the future better for you and your family.
He chairs two commitees, Transportation and Ethics, and has the respect of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle.
Todd has one very special interest: serving you responsibly and respectfully.
Feel free to contact him with suggestions or comments.
Home Tele: 571-0179
Address: 10702 s. 540 e. Sandy, UT 84070
General Election - Tuesday, November 4