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    19.    a.    In addition to the duties and responsibilities imposed upon it by law, the Joint Committee on Ethical Standards shall have continuing authority to receive, investigate and report to the Senate and General Assembly with respect to allegations concerning the conduct or activities of members of the Legislature and employees of the Legislative Branch of the State Government reflecting upon the good name, integrity and reputation of the Legislature or any member thereof which may be referred to the Joint Committee by a concurrent resolution of the Legislature or considered by the Committee upon its own initiative. The respective members of the Joint Committee appointed from the Senate and the General Assembly shall constitute a standing committee of each House which shall have and exercise on behalf of each House the same continuing authority with respect to receipt and consideration of allegations, referred to either standing committee by resolution of the House or by the initiative of the members of the Committee, concerning the qualifications of the members of their respective Houses of the Legislature and the conduct or activities of members and employees reflecting upon the good name, integrity and reputation of the Legislature, a House or any member thereof. In the event any allegation considered or referred to the Joint Committee or to the standing committee of either House shall involve the qualifications, conduct or activities of a member of the committee, that member shall be disqualified from participation in the committee's consideration of such allegation and the President or Speaker shall appoint a replacement to fill such vacancy on the committee, during consideration of such allegation, from among the members of the House of the same party as the disqualified member.

             b.    The Joint Committee or the respective members thereof acting as a standing committee of the Senate or the General Assembly is authorized to retain and employ at the expense of the Legislature or of the Senate or General Assembly, as the case may be, the services of such experts and counsel as it shall deem necessary in connection with any investigation concerning the conduct or activities of a member of the Legislature.

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