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HB 7041 — OGSR/Ethics Complaints and Investigations

by Oversight, Transparency and Administration Subcommittee and Rep. Williamson (SB 7020 by Ethics and Elections Committee)

This summary is provided for information only and does not represent the opinion of any Senator, Senate Officer, or Senate Office.

Prepared by: Ethics and Elections Committee (EE)

The bill is based upon an Open Government Sunset Review (OGSR) of a public records and public meetings exemption for certain information relating to complaints of violations by public officers and public employees. The public records exemption upon which the OGSR is based makes confidential and exempt from public records disclosure a complaint and records relating to a complaint or to any preliminary investigation held by:

  • The Commission on Ethics (commission) or its agents;
  • A Commission on Ethics and Public Trust established by a county or municipality; or
  • A county or municipality that has established a local investigatory process to enforce more stringent standards of conduct and disclosure requirements than those provided in the Code of Ethics.

The public records exemption additionally applies to written referrals and related records held by the commission, the Governor, the Department of Law Enforcement, or a state attorney, as well as records relating to a preliminary investigation of referrals held by the commission.

A proceeding, or any portion thereof, conducted by the commission, a Commission on Ethics and Public Trust, or a county or municipality that has established its own investigatory process, pursuant to a complaint or preliminary investigation, is exempt from public meeting requirements. Similarly, a proceeding of the commission in which a determination regarding a referral is discussed or acted upon is exempt from public meeting requirements.

The above records and meetings are exempt until:

  • The complaint is dismissed;
  • The alleged violator requests in writing that the records or proceedings be made public;
  • The commission determines it will not investigate the referral; or
  • The commission, a Commission on Ethics and Public Trust, or a county or municipality that has established its own investigatory process determines, based on the investigation, whether probable cause exists to believe that a violation has occurred.

If approved by the Governor, these provisions take effect October 1, 2018.

Vote: Senate 35-0; House 111-0