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A06611 Summary:

BILL NOA06611
 
SAME ASSAME AS S05254-A
 
SPONSORHyndman
 
COSPNSRMontesano
 
MLTSPNSR
 
Amd §94, Exec L
 
Removes certain requirements regarding investigations of JCOPE.
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A06611 Actions:

BILL NOA06611
 
03/19/2021referred to governmental operations
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A06611 Memo:

NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY
MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF LEGISLATION
submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
 
BILL NUMBER: A6611
 
SPONSOR: Hyndman
  TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the executive law, in relation to the joint commission on public ethics   PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL: To remove the requirement that legislators, state employees, and state- wide officials cannot be found guilty of ethical violations by JCOPE without the votes of at least two members of his/her own political party.   SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS: Section 1 amends section 94 the executive law to remove the requirements that, in order to initiate ethical investigations or issue findings suggesting ethical violations occurred, two members of JCOPE voting in favor of the action must also be members of the suspected individual's own political party. Section two sets the effective date.   JUSTIFICATION: Ethical violations are non-partisan in nature. A violation of ethical obligations should be equally punishable, regardless of which political party the violator is a member of. However, current New York State law does not treat ethical violations as non-partisan, but includes provisions allowing public employees to avoid responsibility for ethical violations based upon their political party membership. As it is currently written, New York State law does not allow the Joint Commis- sion on Public Ethics(JCOPE) to launch an investigation, or issue reports finding certain public employees guilty of ethical misconduct without the supporting votes of two members of the suspected individ- ual's own political party. This provision creates an unnecessary roadblock to upholding ethical conduct among public employees by giving partisans an opportunity to protect members of their party. The provision not only creates an obsta- cle to issuing formal findings of ethical violations, but also creates an obstacle to initiating any ethical investigations. This bill removes the requirement that, in order to initiate ethical investigations or issue findings suggesting ethical violations occurred, two members of the ethics commission voting in favor of the action must also be members of the suspected individual's own political party. After this bill is enacted, the vote of any eight members of the commission will be suffi- cient to initiate an ethics investigation and also to issue a report suggesting ethical violations occurred.   PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: New bill.   FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None.   EFFECTIVE DATE: Immediately.
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A06611 Text:



 
                STATE OF NEW YORK
        ________________________________________________________________________
 
                                          6611
 
                               2021-2022 Regular Sessions
 
                   IN ASSEMBLY
 
                                     March 19, 2021
                                       ___________
 
        Introduced  by M. of A. HYNDMAN -- read once and referred to the Commit-
          tee on Governmental Operations
 
        AN ACT to amend the executive law, in relation to the  joint  commission
          on public ethics
 
          The  People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assem-
        bly, do enact as follows:

     1    Section 1. Paragraph (a) of subdivision 13, the opening  paragraph  of
     2  subdivision  14-a  and  subdivision  14-b of section 94 of the executive
     3  law, paragraph (a) of subdivision 13 as amended by section 1 of  part  J
     4  of chapter 286 of the laws of 2016, the opening paragraph of subdivision
     5  14-a and subdivision 14-b as added by section 6 of part A of chapter 399
     6  of the laws of 2011, are amended to read as follows:
     7    (a)  Investigations.  If  the  commission  receives  a sworn complaint
     8  alleging a  violation  of  section  seventy-three,  seventy-three-a,  or
     9  seventy-four  of  the  public officers law, section one hundred seven of
    10  the civil service law or article one-A  of  the  legislative  law  by  a
    11  person or entity subject to the jurisdiction of the commission including
    12  members  of the legislature and legislative employees and candidates for
    13  member of the legislature, or if a  reporting  individual  has  filed  a
    14  statement  which reveals a possible violation of these provisions, or if
    15  the commission determines on its own initiative to investigate a  possi-
    16  ble  violation,  the  commission shall notify the individual in writing,
    17  describe the possible or alleged  violation  of  such  laws,  provide  a
    18  description  of  the allegations against him or her and the evidence, if
    19  any, supporting  such  allegations,  provided  however  that  the  joint
    20  commission  shall  redact any information that might, in the judgment of
    21  the commission, be prejudicial to either the complainant or the investi-
    22  gation; the letter also shall set forth the sections of law  alleged  to
    23  have  been  violated and provide the person with a fifteen day period in
    24  which to submit a written response, including any evidence,  statements,
    25  and proposed witnesses, setting forth information relating to the activ-
    26  ities  cited  as  a possible or alleged violation of law. The commission
    27  shall, within sixty calendar days after a complaint  or  a  referral  is
    28  received or an investigation is initiated on the commission's own initi-
 
         EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                              [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                                   LBD03009-03-1

        A. 6611                             2
 
     1  ative,  vote  on  whether to commence a full investigation of the matter
     2  under consideration to determine whether a substantial basis  exists  to
     3  conclude  that  a  violation of law has occurred. The staff of the joint
     4  commission  shall  provide to the members prior to such vote information
     5  regarding the likely scope and  content  of  the  investigation,  and  a
     6  subpoena  plan, to the extent such information is available. Such inves-
     7  tigation shall be conducted if at least eight members of the  commission
     8  vote  to  authorize  it.  [Where  the subject of such investigation is a
     9  member of the legislature or a legislative employee or a  candidate  for
    10  member of the legislature, at least two of the eight or more members who
    11  so vote to authorize such an investigation must have been appointed by a
    12  legislative  leader  or  leaders from the major political party in which
    13  the subject of the proposed investigation is enrolled if such person  is
    14  enrolled  in a major political party. Where the subject of such investi-
    15  gation is a state officer or state employee, at least two of  the  eight
    16  or more members who so vote to authorize such an investigation must have
    17  been  appointed  by  the  governor  and  lieutenant  governor. Where the
    18  subject of such investigation is  a  statewide  elected  official  or  a
    19  direct  appointee of such an official, at least two of the eight or more
    20  members who so vote to authorize such an investigation  must  have  been
    21  appointed by the governor and lieutenant governor and be enrolled in the
    22  major political party in which the subject of the proposed investigation
    23  is enrolled, if such person is enrolled in a major political party].
    24    The  joint  commission  on  public  ethics  shall have jurisdiction to
    25  investigate, but shall have no jurisdiction  to  impose  penalties  upon
    26  members  of  or  candidates for member of the legislature or legislative
    27  employees for any violation of the public officers law.  If,  after  its
    28  substantial  basis  investigation,  by a vote of at least eight members,
    29  [two of whom are enrolled members of the investigated individual's poli-
    30  tical party if the individual is enrolled in a major political party and
    31  were appointed by a legislative leader of  such  political  party,]  the
    32  joint  commission  on  public  ethics  has  found a substantial basis to
    33  conclude that a member of the legislature or a legislative  employee  or
    34  candidate  for  member of the legislature has violated any provisions of
    35  such laws, it shall present a written report to the  legislative  ethics
    36  commission,  and  deliver  a copy of the report to the individual who is
    37  the subject of the report. Such written report shall include:
    38    14-b. With respect to the investigation of any individual who is not a
    39  member of the legislature or a legislative  employee  or  candidate  for
    40  member  of the legislature, if after its investigation the joint commis-
    41  sion has found a substantial basis to conclude that the  individual  has
    42  violated  the  public  officers  law  or  the legislative law, the joint
    43  commission shall send a substantial basis investigation report  contain-
    44  ing its findings of fact and conclusions of law to the individual. [With
    45  respect to an individual who is a statewide elected official or a direct
    46  appointee  of  such  an  official,  no violation may be found unless the
    47  majority voting in support of such  a  finding  includes  at  least  two
    48  members  appointed  by the governor and lieutenant governor and enrolled
    49  in the individual's major political party, if he or she is enrolled in a
    50  major political party. Where the subject  of  such  investigation  is  a
    51  state  officer  or employee who is not a direct appointee of a statewide
    52  elected official, at least two of the eight or more members who vote  to
    53  issue  a substantial basis investigation report must have been appointed
    54  by the governor and lieutenant governor.] The commission  shall  release
    55  such report publicly within forty-five days of its issuance.
    56    § 2. This act shall take effect immediately.
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