ASSEMBLY, No. 2512

 

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

 

INTRODUCED NOVEMBER 14, 1996

 

 

By Assemblymen IMPREVEDUTO and COHEN

 

 

An Act concerning penalties which may be imposed by the Executive Commission on Ethical Standards and by the Joint Legislative Committee on Ethical Standards and amending P.L.1971, c.182.

 

    Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

    1. Section 10 of P.L.1971, c.182 (C.52:13D-21) is amended to read as follows:

    10. (a) The Executive Commission on Ethical Standards created pursuant to P.L.1967, chapter 229 is continued and established in the Department of Law and Public Safety and shall constitute the first commission under this act.

    (b) The commission shall be composed of seven members appointed by the Governor from among State officers and employees serving in the Executive Branch. Each member shall serve at the pleasure of the Governor during the term of office of the Governor appointing him and until his successor is appointed and qualified. The Governor shall designate one member to serve as chairman and one member to serve as vice-chairman of the commission.

    (c) Each member of the said commission shall serve without compensation but shall be entitled to be reimbursed for all actual and necessary expenses incurred in the performance of his duties.

    (d) The Attorney General shall act as legal adviser and counsel to the said commission. He shall upon request advise the commission in the rendering of advisory opinions by the commission, in the approval and review of codes of ethics adopted by State agencies in the Executive Branch and in the recommendation of revisions in codes of ethics or legislation relating to the conduct of State officers and employees in the Executive Branch.

    (e) The said commission may, within the limits of funds appropriated or otherwise made available to it for the purpose, employ such other professional, technical, clerical or other assistants, excepting legal counsel, and incur such expenses as may be necessary for the performance of its duties.

    (f) The said commission, in order to perform its duties pursuant to the provisions of this act, shall have the power to conduct investigations, hold hearings, compel the attendance of witnesses and the production before it of such books and papers as it may deem necessary, proper and relevant to the matter under investigation. The members of the said commission and the persons appointed by the commission for such purpose are hereby empowered to administer oaths and examine witnesses under oath.

    (g) The said commission is authorized to render advisory opinions as to whether a given set of facts and circumstances would, in its opinion, constitute a violation of the provisions of this act or of a code of ethics promulgated pursuant to the provisions of this act.

    (h) The said commission shall have jurisdiction to initiate, receive, hear and review complaints regarding violations, by any State officer or employee or special State officer or employee in the Executive Branch, of the provisions of this act or of any code of ethics promulgated pursuant to the provisions of this act. Any complaint regarding a violation of a code of ethics may be referred by the commission for disposition in accordance with subsection 12(d) of this act.

    (i) Any State officer or employee or special State officer or employee found guilty by the commission of violating any provision of this act or of a code of ethics promulgated pursuant to the provisions of this act shall be fined not less than [$100.00] $500 nor more than [$500.00] $1,500, which penalty may be collected in a summary proceeding pursuant to [the Penalty Enforcement Law (N.J.S.2A:58-1)] "the penalty enforcement law" (N.J.S.2A:58-1 et seq.) , and may be: reprimanded and ordered to pay restitution where appropriate; suspended from his office or employment by order of the commission for a period of not in excess of 1 year; or barred from holding any public office or employment in this State in any capacity whatsoever for a period not in excess of one year. If the commission finds that the conduct of such officer or employee constitutes a willful and continuous disregard of the provisions of this act or of a code of ethics promulgated pursuant to the provisions of this act, it may order such person removed from his office or employment and may further bar such person from holding any public office or employment in this State in any capacity whatsoever for a period of not exceeding 5 years from the date on which he was found guilty by the commission.

(cf: P.L.1971, c.182, s. 10)

 

    2. Section 11 of P.L.1971, c.182 (C.52:13D-22) is amended to read as follows:

    11. (a) The Joint Legislative Committee on Ethical Standards created pursuant to the provisions of P.L.1967, chapter 229, as continued and established pursuant to P.L.1971, c.182, is continued and established in the Legislative Branch of State Government with the addition of the public members as set forth in this section.

    (b) The joint committee shall be composed of 12 members as follows: four members of the Senate appointed by the President thereof, no more than two of whom shall be of the same political party; four members of the General Assembly, appointed by the Speaker thereof, no more than two of whom shall be of the same political party; and four public members, one appointed by the President of the Senate, one appointed by the Speaker of the General Assembly, one appointed by the Minority Leader of the Senate and one appointed by the Minority Leader of the General Assembly. No public member shall be a lobbyist or legislative agent as defined by the "Legislative Activities Disclosure Act of 1971," P.L.1971, c.183 (C.52:13C-18 et seq.), a full-time State employee or an officer or director of any entity which is required to file a statement with the Election Law Enforcement Commission, and no former lobbyist or legislative agent shall be eligible to serve as a public member for one year following the cessation of all activity by that person as a legislative agent or lobbyist. The legislative members shall serve until the end of the two-year legislative term during which the members are appointed. The public members shall serve for terms of two years and until the appointment and qualification of their successors. The terms of the public members shall run from the second Tuesday in January of an even-numbered year to the second Tuesday in January of the next even-numbered year, regardless of the original date of appointment. Notwithstanding the terms of the public members as established in this section, the public members first appointed shall serve from their initial appointments, all of which shall be made not later than the 60th day following the effective date of this act, until the second Tuesday in January of the next even-numbered year. Vacancies in the membership of the joint committee shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointments, but for the unexpired term only. Public members of the joint committee shall serve without compensation, but shall be entitled to be reimbursed for all actual and necessary expenses incurred in the performance of their duties.

    (c) The joint committee shall organize as soon as may be practicable after the appointment of its members, by the selection of a chairman and vice chairman from among its membership and the appointment of a secretary, who need not be a member of the joint committee.

    (d) The Legislative Counsel in the Office of Legislative Services shall act as legal adviser to the joint committee. He shall, upon request, assist and advise the joint committee in the rendering of advisory opinions by the joint committee, in the approval and review of codes of ethics adopted by State agencies in the Legislative Branch, and in the recommendation of revisions in codes of ethics or legislation relating to the conduct of members of the Legislature or State officers and employees in the Legislative Branch.

    (e) The joint committee may, within the limits of funds appropriated or otherwise available to it for the purpose, employ other professional, technical, clerical or other assistants, excepting legal counsel, and incur expenses as may be necessary to the performance of its duties.

    (f) The joint committee shall have all the powers granted pursuant to chapter 13 of Title 52 of the Revised Statutes.

    (g) The joint committee is authorized to render advisory opinions as to whether a given set of facts and circumstances would, in its opinion, constitute a violation of the provisions of this act, of a code of ethics promulgated pursuant to the provisions of this act or of any rule of either or both Houses which gives the joint committee jurisdiction and the authority to investigate a matter.

    (h) The joint committee shall have jurisdiction to initiate, receive, hear and review complaints regarding violations of the provisions of this act or of a code of ethics promulgated pursuant to the provisions of this act. It shall further have such jurisdiction as to enforcement of the rules of either or both Houses of the Legislature governing the conduct of the members or employees thereof as those rules may confer upon the joint committee. A complaint regarding a violation of a code of ethics promulgated pursuant to the provisions of this act may be referred by the joint committee for disposition in accordance with subsection 12(d) of this act.

    (i) Any State officer or employee or special State officer or employee in the Legislative Branch found guilty by the joint committee of violating any provisions of this act, of a code of ethics promulgated pursuant to the provisions of this act or of any rule of either or both Houses which gives the joint committee jurisdiction and the authority to investigate a matter shall be fined not less than $500.00 nor more than $1,500.00, which penalty may be collected in a summary proceeding pursuant to "the penalty enforcement law" (N.J.S.2A:58-1 et seq.), and may be: reprimanded and ordered to pay restitution where appropriate [and may be] ; suspended from his office or employment by order of the joint committee for a period not in excess of 1 year; or barred from holding any public office or employment in this State in any capacity whatsoever for a period not in excess of one year. If the joint committee finds that the conduct of such officer or employee constitutes a willful and continuous disregard of the provisions of this act, of a code of ethics promulgated pursuant to the provisions of this act or of any rule of either or both Houses which gives the joint committee jurisdiction and the authority to investigate a matter, it may order such person removed from his office or employment and may further bar such person from holding any public office or employment in this State in any capacity whatsoever for a period of not exceeding 5 years from the date on which he was found guilty by the joint committee.

    (j) A member of the Legislature who shall be found guilty by the joint committee of violating the provisions of this act, of a code of ethics promulgated pursuant to the provisions of this act or of any rule of either or both Houses which gives the joint committee jurisdiction and the authority to investigate a matter shall be fined not less than $500.00 nor more than $1,500.00, which penalty may be collected in a summary proceeding pursuant to "the penalty enforcement law" (N.J.S.2A:58-1 et seq.), and shall be subject to such further action as may be determined by the House of which he is a member. In such cases the joint committee shall report its findings to the appropriate House and shall recommend to the House such further action as the joint committee deems appropriate, but it shall be the sole responsibility of the House to determine what further action, if any, shall be taken against such member.

(cf: P.L.1991, c.505. s. 1)

 

    3. This act shall take effect immediately.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

    This bill implements certain recommendations made by the State Commission of Investigation in its report entitled "Insurance Interests and Licensure of Former Insurance Commissioner Andrew J. Karpinski", issued in October, 1996. The bill makes the penalties which may be imposed by the Executive Commission on Ethical Standards upon officers or employees of the Executive Branch for ethics violations consistent with the penalties which currently may be applied to officers and employees of the Legislative Branch. Thus, it increases the minimum fine from $100 to $500 and the maximum fine from $500 to $1,500, and authorizes the Executive Commission to reprimand violators and order restitution, where appropriate.

    In addition, the bill allows both the Executive Commission and the Joint Legislative Committee on Ethical Standards to bar an officer or employee who is found guilty of violating the New Jersey Conflicts of Interest Law or a code of ethics promulgated thereunder from public office or employment for up to one year. Existing law allows the Executive Commission or the Joint Committee to suspend an officer or employee for up to one year only from that specific position and to bar an officer or employee from public office or employment for up to five years only in the case of a willful and continuous violation.


                             

Implements certain revisions to State ethics laws recommended by State Commission of Investigation.