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A07512 Summary:

BILL NOA07512
 
SAME ASSAME AS S06364
 
SPONSORHyndman
 
COSPNSR
 
MLTSPNSR
 
Amd §94, Exec L
 
Requires the joint commission on public ethics to update complainants on the status of investigations.
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A07512 Actions:

BILL NOA07512
 
05/13/2021referred to governmental operations
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A07512 Memo:

NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY
MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF LEGISLATION
submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
 
BILL NUMBER: A7512
 
SPONSOR: Hyndman
  TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the executive law, in relation to requiring the joint commission on public ethics to update complainants on the status of investigations   PURPOSE: To mandate that the Joint Commission on Public Ethics ("JCOPE" or the Commission) communicate with complainants throughout the investigation process.   SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS: Section 1 amends section 94 of the executive law to enable JCOPE to disclose information during a pending investigation to keep the complainant or target of the alleged misconduct informed during the process, authorize public disclosure of the status of a matter under certain circumstances, and require JCOPE to provide the complainant or target of the alleged misconduct with written notice of developments in the investigation. Section 2 provides the effective date.   JUSTIFICATION: This legislation was inspired by testimony at the joint legislative hearing on sexual harassment in the workplace held in Albany in February 2019. Several former state workers who had been interviewed by JCOPE testified that they had not been informed of the purpose of the investi- gation and were never updated on the outcome. People who step forward to report harassment and participate in these investigations to protect the public good deserve proper communication and transparency throughout the process. This bill will require that the initial 15-day letter describing the allegations and supporting evidence which is currently sent to the accused is also provided to the complainant or target of the alleged misconduct. Additionally, the bill mandates that JCOPE provide the complainant or target with written notice of the decision on whether to commence a substantial basis investigation. If the Commission votes to proceed with a full investigation, the bill also requires that it provide the complainant or target with written notice outlining the alleged violations of law and factual basis for those allegations, and a copy of JCOPE's rules and procedures so that participants know what to expect during the process. Finally, the bill authorizes JCOPE to share information with complainants or targets involved in pending investi- gations so that confidentiality restrictions under the statute creating JCOPE do not prevent the Commission from providing regular updates. Together, these changes will help make the investigation process more victim-centered and trauma-informed.   PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: 2020: S6737 - Referred to Finance 2019: S6737 - Referred to Rules   FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None.   EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect immediately.
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A07512 Text:



 
                STATE OF NEW YORK
        ________________________________________________________________________
 
                                          7512
 
                               2021-2022 Regular Sessions
 
                   IN ASSEMBLY
 
                                      May 13, 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  requiring  the  joint
          commission  on  public  ethics to update complainants on the status of
          investigations
 
          The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and  Assem-
        bly, do enact as follows:
 
     1    Section  1.  Subdivision 9-a and paragraphs (a) and (b) of subdivision
     2  13 of section 94 of the executive  law,  subdivision  9-a  as  added  by
     3  section 6 of part A of chapter 399 of the laws of 2011, paragraph (a) of
     4  subdivision  13 as amended by section 1 and paragraph (b) of subdivision
     5  13 as amended by section 2 of part J of chapter 286 of the laws of 2016,
     6  are amended to read as follows:
     7    9-a. (a) When an individual becomes a commissioner  or  staff  of  the
     8  commission,  that  individual shall be required to sign a non-disclosure
     9  statement.
    10    (b) Except as otherwise required or provided by law, or when necessary
    11  to inform the complainant or target of the alleged violation of law,  if
    12  any  of  the status of an investigation, testimony received or any other
    13  information obtained by a commissioner or staff of the commission  shall
    14  not  be disclosed by any such individual to any person or entity outside
    15  the commission during the  pendency  of  any  matter.  Any  confidential
    16  communication  to any person or entity outside the commission related to
    17  the matters before the commission may occur only as  authorized  by  the
    18  commission.
    19    (c) The commission shall establish procedures necessary to prevent the
    20  unauthorized disclosure of any information received by any member of the
    21  commission  or  staff of the commission. Any breaches of confidentiality
    22  shall be investigated by the inspector general  and  appropriate  action
    23  shall  be  taken.  Any commissioner or person employed by the commission
    24  who intentionally and without authorization releases confidential infor-

         EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                              [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                                   LBD10261-01-1

        A. 7512                             2
 
     1  mation received by the commission shall be guilty of a class A misdemea-
     2  nor.
     3    (d)  Notwithstanding paragraph (b) of this subdivision and subdivision
     4  thirteen of this section, the commission may, in the public interest  or
     5  under  extraordinary  circumstances, if the public is otherwise aware of
     6  the existence of such actual or potential investigative matter,  author-
     7  ize the chairman or designated staff to publicly disclose that: (1) such
     8  matter is pending before the commission; (2) such matter has been closed
     9  by  the  commission;  or  (3)  the commission has deferred action on the
    10  matter at the request of a prosecutor, other law enforcement agency,  or
    11  due  to  another pending proceeding. Before authorizing such disclosure,
    12  the commission shall provide the subject of such investigation  and  the
    13  complainant  or  target of alleged violation of law, if any the opportu-
    14  nity to be heard regarding the public release of such information.
    15    (a) Investigations. If  the  commission  receives  a  sworn  complaint
    16  alleging  a  violation  of  section  seventy-three,  seventy-three-a, or
    17  seventy-four of the public officers law, section one  hundred  seven  of
    18  the  civil  service  law  or  article  one-A of the legislative law by a
    19  person or entity subject to the jurisdiction of the commission including
    20  members of the legislature and legislative employees and candidates  for
    21  member  of  the  legislature,  or  if a reporting individual has filed a
    22  statement which reveals a possible violation of these provisions, or  if
    23  the  commission determines on its own initiative to investigate a possi-
    24  ble violation, the commission shall notify the  individual  in  writing,
    25  describe  the  possible  or  alleged  violation  of such laws, provide a
    26  description of the allegations against him or her and the  evidence,  if
    27  any,  supporting  such  allegations,  provided  however  that  the joint
    28  commission shall redact any information that might, in the  judgment  of
    29  the commission, be prejudicial to either the complainant or the investi-
    30  gation;  the  letter also shall set forth the sections of law alleged to
    31  have been violated and provide the person with a fifteen day  period  in
    32  which  to submit a written response, including any evidence, statements,
    33  and proposed witnesses, setting forth information relating to the activ-
    34  ities cited as a possible or alleged violation of  law.  The  commission
    35  shall  provide a copy of such letter to the complainant or the target of
    36  the alleged violation of law, if any. The commission shall, within sixty
    37  calendar days after a complaint or a referral is received or an investi-
    38  gation is initiated on the commission's own initiative, vote on  whether
    39  to  commence  a  full investigation of the matter under consideration to
    40  determine  whether  a  substantial  basis  exists  to  conclude  that  a
    41  violation  of  law has occurred. The staff of the joint commission shall
    42  provide to the members prior to  such  vote  information  regarding  the
    43  likely  scope  and content of the investigation, and a subpoena plan, to
    44  the extent such information is available. Such  investigation  shall  be
    45  conducted  if at least eight members of the commission vote to authorize
    46  it. Where the subject of such investigation is a member of the  legisla-
    47  ture or a legislative employee or a candidate for member of the legisla-
    48  ture, at least two of the eight or more members who so vote to authorize
    49  such  an  investigation must have been appointed by a legislative leader
    50  or leaders from the major political party in which the  subject  of  the
    51  proposed investigation is enrolled if such person is enrolled in a major
    52  political  party.  Where  the  subject  of such investigation is a state
    53  officer or state employee, at least two of the eight or more members who
    54  so vote to authorize such an investigation must have been  appointed  by
    55  the governor and lieutenant governor. Where the subject of such investi-
    56  gation  is a statewide elected official or a direct appointee of such an

        A. 7512                             3
 
     1  official, at least two of the eight or  more  members  who  so  vote  to
     2  authorize such an investigation must have been appointed by the governor
     3  and  lieutenant governor and be enrolled in the major political party in
     4  which  the  subject  of  the proposed investigation is enrolled, if such
     5  person is enrolled in a major political party. If  the  commission  does
     6  not vote to authorize a full investigation, the commission shall provide
     7  written  notice  of  the  decision  to  the complainant or target of the
     8  alleged violation of law.
     9    (b) Substantial basis investigation. Upon the affirmative vote of  not
    10  less  than  eight  commission  members  to  commence a substantial basis
    11  investigation, written notice of  the  commission's  decision  shall  be
    12  provided  to the individual who is the subject of such substantial basis
    13  investigation and the complainant or target of the alleged violation  of
    14  law,  if  any.  Such  written notice shall include a copy of the commis-
    15  sion's rules and procedures and shall also include notification of [such
    16  individual's] the subject of the investigation's right to be heard with-
    17  in thirty calendar days of the date of the commission's written  notice.
    18  If  the  commission votes to commence a substantial basis investigation,
    19  the commission shall provide to the [individual] subject of the investi-
    20  gation and the complainant or target of the alleged violation of law, if
    21  any a notice setting forth the alleged violations of law and the factual
    22  basis for those allegations. The commission shall provide to the  [indi-
    23  vidual]  subject of the investigation any additional evidence supporting
    24  the allegations not set forth in the letter sent pursuant  to  paragraph
    25  (a) of this subdivision in sufficient detail to enable the [individual]
    26  subject  of the investigation to respond, at least seven days before the
    27  hearing. Such hearing shall  afford  the  [individual]  subject  of  the
    28  investigation  with a reasonable opportunity to appear in person, and by
    29  attorney, give sworn testimony and present evidence. Such hearing  shall
    30  occur  before the commission votes on whether or not to issue a substan-
    31  tial basis report. The commission shall  also  inform  the  [individual]
    32  subject of the investigation of its rules regarding the conduct of adju-
    33  dicatory  proceedings  and  appeals and the other due process procedural
    34  mechanisms available to such [individual] subject of the  investigation.
    35  If  the  commission  determines at any stage that there is no violation,
    36  that any potential violation has been rectified, or if the investigation
    37  is closed for any other reason, it  shall  so  advise  the  [individual]
    38  subject  of  the  investigation  and  the  complainant  or target of the
    39  alleged violation of law, if any in writing within fifteen days of  such
    40  decision. All of the foregoing proceedings shall be confidential.
    41    §  2.  This  act shall take effect on the ninetieth day after it shall
    42  have become a law. Effective immediately the addition, amendment  and/or
    43  repeal  of  any  rule  or regulation necessary for the implementation of
    44  this act on its effective date are authorized to be made  and  completed
    45  on or before such date.
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