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House | June 3, 2013 | Committee Room | Ethics

Full MP3 Audio File

the plan objection we're going to declare that we have a quarum, welcome to the first house ethics committee for the year 2013. my coach here representative becky karney and i will do our best to run this committee with grace and dignity. representative karney do you have comments you would like to make name? [speaker changes] not at the moment [speaker changes] like to thank our trustee sergent varns, mr.cells, mr. hunt, mr. brandon and mr. clampit. we apprieciate you being here today. believe you will find your bills in your folders. we have two bills before us. they are not exciting or sexy. and it's people who think the word ethics means mad and agreijus, it doesn't in this committee. so our first bill will be senate bill 156 and mr. hartsol....you have the floor [speaker changes] thank you ms chairman and members of the committee. 156 in results is an unanomous vote of the prior joint ethics committee. coacharb , stan, and myself and bypart in that sense that it really cleans up a couple of things that we have been assuming where the case we could do but we were'nt sure so we tried to straighten it out and matter such as clarifying that the legislature acts committee may recieve complaints directly. we sort of assumed that we could, but we sort of taken that previously and sort of taken up on our own motion. those kinds of things were in it. as well as for instance for LSC may issue as private emonishment without a hearing. this atthority is implied but is not pacifically stated elsewhere in the statue. there are a number of things of that sort, if we are not in session we have twenty days to notify folks and take certain actions. twenty business days we got certian limitations built into the statue. just trying to straighten up some things and also those are all in section one and would commend that to you for those tech, their really very technical and subamuatory i believe is the term, they would put you to sleep. the second session clarifies that the advisory opinions issued by the legislature ethnics committee on matters covered by the legislature of ethnics are binding on all legislature. if you know anything about the process by which those were adopted, there is a very extended process by which the legislature committee issue these advisory opinions in very specific circumstances narrowing those. and this has been the assumption that this was the case but were are going to spell out today that it was in fact the case. ill lie to try and answer any questions. [speaker changes] questions from the commitee. yes sir representative michell [speaker changes] I don't have a question yet, im trying to figure out what im supposed to be doing, and i say that with a degree of ignorance, i serve on another ethnics commission, which is comprised of senators and house members [speaker changes] yes sir i would be glad to try to clear that up a little bit, in the statue of representative mitchell, there is what we you and i now as the joint legislative ethics committee, yes sir that's house and senate. the house also has the standing committee, the house ethics committee. and yes sir and you are a member of both and we're glad, but basically this committee currently is looking at legislature however i was looking into this ares of questions myself, if there happens to be issues with members of either chambers those conduct issues might be heard in this committee if it's an issue dealing with the house member and to the same extent senate is that liberty to appoint or select committee. they do not

have a Senate Ethics Committee currently, that would deal with any issues in that chamber. [SPEAKER CHANGES] So, so, what happens if the other joint ??? comes out of them and ??? joint administrative ???. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I don't believe you would ever have to deal with that type of a relationship, because either we would, if it was legislation, it will be run through this committee, if it is dealing with improper conduct, perhaps and would be sent to the House Ethics Committee, then the House would conduct business dealing with the House member, so I don't believe you would ever have to deal with that Representative Michaux, there's many years that many of us have set on by this. This committee is dealing with legislation for the purpose of moving legislation today. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Madam Chair, I still, I'm still in a quandary because I know that for instance we are issuing a ruling today on some matters that involves numbers, an overall ruling that involves what members can do and what they cannot do. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes sir, and Representative Michaux, this is a Senate bill, Senate bill 156, and it's already cleared the Senate, and cleared I believe Commerce Committee, then they forward the Senate, and was passed as any other normal bill would over to the House, and it's being scrutinized here, trust me, Representative Michaux, I know. Are there other, Senator Hart so there was just one question in Section 3 pertaining to Section 2, I am assuming you are making that date retroactive so you can, as you said, things had been implied up to this day, but now you are saying those are concrete. [SPEAKER CHANGES] That is correct, as far as I know. [SPEAKER CHANGES] 'kay, other questions from the Committee staff, do you have anything that you can add to Senate Bill 156, staff? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes, Madame Chairman, the retroactive effective date with respect to advisory opinions, that section of the Bill, section 2, it was always believed that, advisory opinions issued by the Legislative Ethics Committee would apply to all legislators, and so this is making a technical change, and it's using the retroactive effective date, just to make that effective, to make effective what was always believed to be the case, that all the advisory opinions would be binding on all legislators. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Other questions from the committee? None from staff, anybody in the audience would like to make comments? Seeing no hands- [SPEAKER CHANGES] Madame Chair. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes sir, Representative Stam. [SPEAKER CHANGES] There was a parallel House Bill, and Ms. Churchill had a clarified amendment that was passed when the House, is she still here? [SPEAKER CHANGES] She's ??? [SPEAKER CHANGES] When the House is already passed it a couple months ago, and I don't know if it's even necessary if you want to deal with it, but I just, bringing that to your attention. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Do we have it? Well let's just stand at ease and let it, let's handle it here if we can. Representative Stam, since you aren't a member of the Committee, do you have talking points that you would like to pass to a member of the Committee offering the amendment, or would you like to have the privilege of the Committee to speak on the Amendment that's being prepared? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Madame Chair, I never actually understood the Amendment but Representative- [SPEAKER CHANGES] Well that's- [SPEAKER CHANGES] But Ms. Churchill did- [LAUGHTER] [SPEAKER CHANGES] Maybe she'll be right back, trust him, Representative Michaux. [LAUGHTER] [SPEAKER CHANGES] Representative Michaux, Representative Michaux, Representative Saine, I trust too. I don't- [LAUGHTER] [SPEAKER CHANGES] You don't, trust me, trust me, you don't?

That would be a joint committee. And then I would now appreciate you. I'd take yours too. [Speaker Change] ?? (Inaudible) [Speaker Change] And we really appreciate Monday. I confiscated the chair. I said to Michelle would you all like to offer the amendment. That Erica Churchill’s here to explain. [Speaker Change] Oh she's here. [Speaker Change] Yes sir. But you need to sign it. [Speaker Change] OK whatever then. [Speaker Change] At least we didn't ??. Did she leave again? [Speaker Change] Yeah I mean I completely ?? [Speaker Change] I would. Somebody needed to ?? [Speaker Change] Sure thank you Madam Chairmen. The amendment makes a change on page 2 lines 34 to 35. By rewriting those lines to read and this talks about what the committee must do. Subdivision for says make recommendations to the House in which the legislator who is a subject of the complaint is a member without further investigation. If either of the following is true one of them is that they're froze from the state ethics commission. And what we're changing here is the referral alleges conduct that may be unethical but the committee determines it does not have jurisdiction under subsection A of the section. This is just a clarification of the language. [Speaker Change] Say that again. [Speaker Change Yeah. [Speaker Change Currently the language says if you look at lines 34 and 35 the committee determines it does not have jurisdiction over the alleges conduct, but if true the alleges conduct may be unethical. And we are rewriting that to say the referral alleges conduct that may be unethical but the committee determines it does not have jurisdiction under subsection A of this section. It's just a clarification of the jurisdictional limits. [Speaker Change] Representative Stam where did you find this language sir? Or [Speaker Change] This was requested by Ray Starling in the Speakers office. [Speaker Change] Senator Hartsell call falls on you sir. [Speaker Change] This is the first I've heard of it. I don't object to it. If Erica says it's OK. [Speaker Change] Madam Chair. [Speaker Change] Representative Michaux. [Speaker Change] Actually ?? many determines that does not have ?? conduct ??. What exactly do you mean? And in contrast to what you ??. [Speaker Change] Madam Chairman. [Speaker Change] Yes. [Speaker Change] I think the differences that the legislative ethics committee is limited in jurisdiction. It only has jurisdiction over certain violations that are chapter 30A of the general statutes, or chapter 120 of the general statutes, or very, very limited criminal violations. And so there are some instances where the committee may get a complaint that doesn't fall directly within the jurisdiction of the legislative ethics committee. But the entire House of Representatives would have jurisdiction over that complaint. So there are some instances where the committee may refer something directly to the House which would

have broader jurisdiction than the committee which has limited jurisdiction. [SPEAKER CHANGE] Representative Avila. [SPEAKER CHANGE] Thank you, Madame Chair. I guess that was what I had seen, and I was wondering, is there an example of something, some type of violation that would fall outside of the purview of this committee? I work better by example. [SPEAKER CHANGE] Well, I don't believe anybody on the committee can give you an example because we don't understand it yet so maybe the staff would be able give us an example. Erica do you [SPEAKER CHANGE] There are certain matters in the past that the entire House of Representatives ??, the Thomas Wright matter, for example. There are certain allegations that the Legislative Ethics Committee may have had jurisdiction over. There are certain matters that they would not have but the entire House would because under the constitution the entire House of Representatives would have the ability to discipline its members so that's why you would sometimes refer something to the House, the full House and even the Speaker's office, would consider at the time, they could set up a separate committee to do that if the Legislative Ethics Committee was limited by its jurisdiction so the House has broader jurisdiction to discipline its members than the Legislative Ethics Committee which would just recommend. [SPEAKER CHANGE] Would that also be true also with the Senate? You were saying [SPEAKER CHANGE] Yes, yes. [SPEAKER CHANGE] Okay, you have the amendment before you. Further discussion on the amendment? [SPEAKER CHANGE] Let me just clarify the clarification ?? it's just more words. [SPEAKER CHANGE] Representative Michaux has moved adoption of the amendment. All in favor will say aye [SPEAKER CHANGE] Aye [SPEAKER CHANGE] All opposed say no. I believe that is unanimous. We have a motion for ??. Thank you, Representative Michaux. All in favor of that motion will say aye. [SPEAKER CHANGE] Aye. [SPEAKER CHANGE] All opposed say no. I believe that is unanimous. [SPEAKER CHANGE] Thank you Madame Chair, members of the committee. [SPEAKER CHANGE] I will, yes, yes, we will, me and Becky. ??? Representative Holloway, okay. Senator Harrington on SB 411. [SPEAKER CHANGE] Thank you, Madame Chair, members of the committee. This bill, the NPO Ethics bill is a recommendation of the Joint Transportation Legislative Oversight Committee. The original legislation that we ran last year cast a slighter larger net than intended. This is more narrowly tailored and focuses the requirements on those with voting privileges only which was the original intent. [SPEAKER CHANGE] Pardon me, Madame Chair, is this a committee substitute? [SPEAKER CHANGE] No sir, we are dealing with the original bill, Representative Michaux. I believe there was a committee substitute in your packet. The bill sponsor prefers that we deal with the original bill so we are on the original bill. [SPEAKER CHANGE] That's correct. [SPEAKER CHANGE] Yes. [SPEAKER CHANGE] Thank you again, Madame Chair. We worked with those affected by the legislation to improve it and there is no known opposition. Also spoken with members to address their concerns and believe this bill does that. Under this bill all NPO and RPO voting members are required to do the following: not participate in any action if they know they may financially benefit, promptly disclose in writing any conflict of interest or potential conflict of interest, file a statement of economic interest with State Ethics commission, file with the State Ethics Commission, a list of all real estate owned wholely or in part by the member or the member's extended family and any business in which the member is associated located in the jurisdiction of the NPO or RPO on which the member serves and also not user ??

non-public information gained through service on the NPO or RPO that would effect the personal financial interests of the member, member's family, or business with which the member is associated. Just as a side note, the original bill inadvertently included TCC or technical coordinating committee members. That was not the intent. The intent is to only address those serving on NPO's and RPO's that have voting privileges. They directly influence taxpayer dollars and Madame Chair, if I may, we needed to have a date changed and Representative Brown has an amendment to offer. [speaker changes] We'll get to that in a minute. Just a minute. Staff, do you have anything else that you would like to add to the original bill? [speaker changes] No ma'am. [speaker changes] Committee members on the original bill. Representative Rayne Brown, you are recognized to send forth an amendment please, ma'am. [speaker changes] Thank you, madame chair. If the members will please look at page four of the bill, line four and I'm not gonna go at any length, the explanation. I'd really like to ask Mrs. Churchill staff to explain the amendment. Basically though, it's just a change in the date. What we got into a little trouble, so if staff will please explain, I appreciate it. [speaker changes] Madame chair? [speaker changes] Yes ma'am. Sorry. [speaker changes] The current edition of the bill has a clause in it that when the bill was originally filed, it was prior to April 15th, which April 15th is the due date for statements of economic interest. And it was basically saying that if you hadn't filed yours by April 15th, it was fine. Not an issue, but we have now passed April 15th. The other second requirement comes with filing a statement of economic interest is attending ethics education. The amendment would simply say that the ethics education requirement that these individuals had to meet by this month no longer applies if the bill is enacted. So, it simply says that they don't have to worry about complying with it in the State Ethics Commission. If they haven't complied with it, they cannot use the enforcement tools against them. And also, it states that if you're a member of that technical coordinating committee, The TCC as Senator Harrington mentioned that were not meant to be captured by this, if you filed your statement of economic interest, it can be destroyed. That's all. Thank you. [speaker changes] n the amendment, members do you have questions on the amendment? Representative Rayne Brown moves for adoption of the amendment. All in favor will say aye. All opposed, no. [speaker changes] Thank you. [speaker changes] The bill is before set amendment. [speaker changes] Madame Chair, just a question. This makes NPO's and the RPO's, it puts them in the same bucket that everybody else is in. Is that correct? [speaker changes] Not exactly. I'm gonna read- [speaker changes] Just, if I may, thank you. The original -- that's why we redid the bill. Originally, the net was cast a little bit larger than intended. It included - they were also forced to comply with the gift band and everything that we are. That wasn't the intent. The intent was to just be sure that they didn't have any personal interests in anything they were voting on. And this tightens it down and does just that. [speaker changes] follow up. [speaker changes] This raises a question for me. Does this take them out of the gift band? [speaker changes] They are not under the gift band under this version of the NPO ethics Bill. They have to file the statement of economic interest and a list of their properties which is the place where they would - could potentially gain something financially. If they owned property in the path or proposed road and then voted on it. [speaker changes] Madame chair. [speaker changes] Yes sir? [speaker changes] I guess it's still not getting at my point. I'm not worried about - I know if you got an interest in property, that's one thing, but if somebody else has an interest in property, and gives you a hundred or a couple hundred dollars, or gives you whatever, are they covered anywhere for that gift? [speaker changes] Mrs Churchill, would you just give this a --? [speaker changes] I'll make an attempt. The NPO's and the RPO's, The Technical Coordinating Committees and or the Technical Advisory Committess and the Technical Coordinating Committees both of those comprise local NPO or an RPO. The individuals that serve on that TAC or TCC are all local officials. They're either elected officials or individuals that work for a locality, a county or city usually. As such, they have to comply with some criminal provisions that say you can't take gifts and you can't self deal. Right now, they are under the state government ethics act that say they can't take a gift just like legislators, legislative --

for ease and public servants from folks who are registered to lobby at the state level, even though they may not interact with lobbyists registered at the state level in the same way that individuals at the state level do. The bill would simply put them back where they were originally, which is under the local elected official’s version of the gift ban, which is a criminal statute. Every locality, every county and city, also has to have their own code of ethics. Some of those do include provisions about accepting gifts while involved in their public service. [SPEAKER CHANGES]: We just had a hodgepodge of a whole lot of things. OK. [SPEAKER CHANGES]: ?? Jackson. Yes sir. [SPEAKER CHANGES]: Inaudible. [SPEAKER CHANGES]: Yes sir. [SPEAKER CHANGES]: (Partially inaudible) If we take no acts ?? fiscal under a gift ban?? all we ?? if we pass this legislation. Prior status totally be restored and they may or may not to accept gifts depending on what their local ordinance ??. [SPEAKER CHANGES]: But they're criminal statutes. [SPEAKER CHANGES]: Thanks. [SPEAKER CHANGES]: Yes sir. Are there questions from the committee on the bill as amended? Looking for a motion if there is one to be had. ?? [SPEAKER CHANGES]: I move that we give a favorable recommendation to the Senate Bill as amended; ?? that and roll that into one bill; and unfavorable as to the original. [SPEAKER CHANGES]: You have the motion before you. Are there discussion, further debate? If not, all in favor will say aye. [SPEAKER CHANGES]: Aye. [SPEAKER CHANGES]: All apposed no. [SPEAKER CHANGES]: No. [SPEAKER CHANGES]: That is noted. I believe the ayes have it. Thank you Madam Chairmembers of this committee. Having no further business, we hereby stand adjourned.