DeLeo pushing set of ethics changes

House Speaker Robert DeLeo is proposing a new set of ethics changes, including allowing the removal of any member of the House leadership team who is indicted.

The package of reforms also includes mandatory ethics training for lawmakers, a stronger ethics committee with the power to introduce legislation, and a clamp down on so-called "phantom voting'' by members of the House who are absent during debate.

Under the set of reforms, presented to a House caucus on Tuesday, the Speaker and Minority Leader would be able to unilaterally remove members from their leadership positions if they are under criminal indictment. Currently a vote of the Democratic or Republican caucus is required to remove a lawmaker from a leadership position.

DeLeo is also pushing for an eight-year term limit for House Speaker.

House lawmakers have periodically come under criticism for so-called "phantom voting'' &emdash; having other House members or court officers vote for them when they are not in the House chamber when a roll call vote is called.

Under DeLeo's proposal any House member who notifies the House clerk that he or she will not be present for a formal session would have their voting mechanism temporarily disabled.

The voting mechanism would also be temporarily disabled for any member who failed to show up for the first major roll call vote of the day.

Other measures recommended by DeLeo include: mandating that all bills to be debated by the House be posted on the Internet; requiring all lawmakers and legislative employees who have taken part in ethics training to sign a statement saying they understand the rules; lengthening the time of some legislative debates.