Bill Text: NJ S2068 | 2012-2013 | Regular Session | Introduced


Bill Title: Transfers responsibility for establishment and enforcement of ethical standards for local officials and school officials to the State Ethics Commission.

Status: (Introduced - Dead) 2013-03-18 - Motion To Table (22-16) (Weinberg) [S2068 Detail]

Download: New_Jersey-2012-S2068-Introduced.html

SENATE, No. 2068

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

215th LEGISLATURE

INTRODUCED JUNE 14, 2012

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  THOMAS H. KEAN, JR.

District 21 (Morris, Somerset and Union)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Transfers responsibility for establishment and enforcement of ethical standards for local officials and school officials to the State Ethics Commission.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

 


An Act concerning local government ethics, revising various parts of the statutory law, and supplementing P.L.1991, c.393 (C.18A:12-21 et seq.) and 40A of the New Jersey Statutes.

 

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

 

     1.    Section 2 of P.L.1991, c.393 (C.18A:12-22) is amended to read as follows:

     2.    The Legislature [find] finds and declares:

     a.     In our representative form of government it is essential that the conduct of members of local boards of education and local school administrators hold the respect and confidence of the people.  These board members and administrators must avoid conduct which is in violation of their public trust or which creates a justifiable impression among the public that such trust is being violated. 

     b.    To ensure and preserve public confidence, school board members and local school administrators should have the benefit of specific standards to guide their conduct and of some disciplinary mechanism to ensure the uniform maintenance of those standards among them.

     c.     It is also recognized that under a free government it is both necessary and desirable that all citizens, public officials included, should have certain specific interests in the decisions of government, and that the activities and conduct of public officials should not, therefore, be unduly circumscribed. 

(cf: P.L.1991, c.393, s.2) 

 

     2.    Section 3 of P.L.1991, c.393 (C.18A:12-23) is amended to read as follows:

     3.    For the purposes of this act, unless the context clearly requires a different meaning:

     "Administrator" means any officer, other than a board member, or employee of a local school district who (i) holds a position which requires a certificate that authorizes the holder to serve as school administrator, principal, or school business administrator; or (ii) holds a position which does not require that the person hold any type of certificate but is responsible for making recommendations regarding hiring or the purchase or acquisition of any property or services by the local school district; or (iii) holds a position which requires a certificate that authorizes the holder to serve as supervisor and who is responsible for making recommendations regarding hiring or the purchase or acquisition of any property or services by the local school district;

     "Board member" means any person holding membership, whether by election or appointment, on any board of education other than the State Board of Education and any person holding membership on a charter school board of trustees

     "Business" means any corporation, partnership, firm, enterprise, franchise, association, trust, sole proprietorship, union, political organization, or other legal entity but shall not include a local school district or any other public entity; 

     "Cohabitant" means any person who resides with the school official;

     "Commission" means the [School] State Ethics Commission established [pursuant to section 7 of this act] pursuant to the "New Jersey Conflicts of Interest Law," P.L.1971, c.182 (C.52:13D-12 et seq.);

      ["Commissioner" means the Commissioner of Education;]

     "Financial disclosure statement" means the financial disclosure statement required to be filed by school officials pursuant to section 6 of P.L.1991, c.393 (C.18A:12-26);

     "Interest" means the ownership or control of more than 10% of the profits, assets, or stock of a business but shall not include the control of assets in a labor union; 

     "Local school district" means any local or regional school district established pursuant to chapter 8 or chapter 13 of Title 18A of the New Jersey Statutes, a charter school established pursuant to P.L.1995, c.426 (C.18A:36A-1 et seq.), and any jointure commission, county vocational school, county special services district, educational services commission, educational research and demonstration center, environmental education center, and educational information and resource center; 

     "Member of immediate family" means the spouse [or dependent child] , civil union partner, or domestic partner, or the child, parent, or sibling whether by blood, marriage or adoption, of a school official residing in the same household;

     "Political organization" means a "political committee" or a "continuing political committee" as those terms are defined in "The New Jersey Campaign Contributions and Expenditures Reporting Act," P.L.1973, c.83 (C.19:44A-1 et seq.);

     ["Relative" means the spouse, natural or adopted child, parent, or sibling of a school;] and

     "School official" means a board member, an employee or officer of the New Jersey School Boards Association, but not including any member of the secretarial, clerical or maintenance staff of the association, or an administrator[; and 

     "Spouse" means the person to whom a school official is legally married under New Jersey law]

(cf: P.L.1995, c.14, s.1) 

     3.    Section 4 of P.L.1991, c.393 (C.18A:12-24) is amended to read as follows:

     4.    The State Ethics Commission shall promulgate a uniform ethics code to govern and guide the conduct of all school officials.  The uniform ethics code shall include the following provisions:

     a.     No school official [or member of his immediate family] shall have an interest [in a business organization] , financial or otherwise, direct or indirect, or engage in any business, transaction, or professional activity, which is in substantial conflict with the proper discharge of his duties in the public interest;

     b.    No school official shall use or attempt to use his official position to secure unwarranted privileges[,] or advantages [or employment] for himself [, members of his immediate family] or others;

     c.     No school official shall act in his official capacity in any matter [where] wherein he [, a member of his immediate family, or a business organization in which he has an interest,] has a direct or indirect financial [involvement] interest that might reasonably be expected to impair his objectivity or independence of judgment. [No school official shall act in his official capacity in any matter where he or a member of his immediate family has a personal involvement that is or creates some benefit to the school official or member of his immediate family];

     d.    No school official shall undertake any employment or service, whether compensated or not, which might reasonably be expected to prejudice his independence of judgment in the exercise of his official duties;

     e.     No school official, or member of his immediate family, or cohabitant, or partner, or associate, or business organization in which he has an interest, shall directly or indirectly solicit or accept any gift, favor, loan, political contribution, service, employment, promise of future employment, or other thing of value [based upon an understanding that the gift, favor, loan, contribution, service, promise, or other thing of value was given or offered for the purpose of influencing him, directly or indirectly, in the discharge of his official duties] ,which solicitation or acceptance is related in any way to the school official's public duties.  This provision shall not apply to the solicitation or acceptance of contributions to the campaign of an announced candidate for elective public office, if the school official has no knowledge or reason to believe that the campaign contribution, if accepted, was given with the intent to influence the school official in the discharge of his official duties;

     f.     No school official shall [use, or allow to be used, his public office or employment, or any information, not generally available to the members of the public, which he receives or acquires in the course of and by reason of his office or employment, for the purpose of securing financial gain for himself, any member of his immediate family, or any business organization with which he is associated] willfully disclose to any person any information not generally available to members of the public which he receives or acquires in the course of and by reason of his official duties.  No school official shall use, whether directly or indirectly, any information not generally available to members of the public which he receives or acquires in the course of and by reason of his official duties;

     g.     No school official or business organization in which he has an interest shall represent any person or party other than the school board or school district in connection with any cause, proceeding, application or other matter pending before the school district in which he serves or in any proceeding involving the school district in which he serves  or, for officers or employees of the New Jersey School Boards Association, any school district. This provision shall not be deemed to prohibit representation within the context of official labor union or similar representational responsibilities;

     h.     No school official shall be deemed in conflict with these provisions if, by reason of his participation in any matter required to be voted upon, no material or monetary gain accrues to him as a member of any business, profession, occupation or group, to any greater extent than any gain could reasonably be expected to accrue to any other member of that business, profession, occupation or group;

     i.      No elected member shall be prohibited from making an inquiry for information on behalf of a constituent, if no fee, reward or other thing of value is promised to, given to or accepted by the member [or] , a member of his immediate family, or a cohabitant, whether directly or indirectly, in return therefor;

     j.     Nothing shall prohibit any school official, or members of his immediate family, from representing himself, or themselves, in negotiations or proceedings concerning his, or their, own interests; [and]

     k.    Employees of the New Jersey School Boards Association shall not be precluded from providing assistance, in the normal course of their duties, to boards of education in the negotiation of a collective bargaining agreement regardless of whether a member of their immediate family or cohabitant is a member of, or covered by, a collective bargaining agreement negotiated by a Statewide union with which a board of education is negotiating; and

     l.      No school official should knowingly act in any way that may reasonably be expected to create an impression or suspicion among the public having knowledge of his acts that he may be engaged in conduct violative of his trust as a school official.

(cf: P.L.1999, c.256, s.1)

 

     4.    Section 6 of P.L.1991, c.393 (C.18A:12-26) is amended to read as follows:

     6.    a.  Each school official shall annually file a financial disclosure statement with the [School] State Ethics Commission.  [All financial disclosure statements filed pursuant to this act shall include the following information which shall specify, where applicable, the name and address of each source and the school official's position: 

     (1)   Each source of income, earned or unearned, exceeding $2,000 received by the school official or a member of his immediate family during the preceding calendar year.  Individual client fees, customer receipts or commissions on transactions received through a business organization need not be separately reported as sources of income.  If a publicly traded security or interest derived from a financial institution is the source of income, the security or interest derived from a financial institution need not be reported unless the school official or member of his immediate family has an interest in the business organization or financial institution; 

     (2)   Each source of fees and honorariums having an aggregate amount exceeding $250 from any single source for personal appearances, speeches or writings received by the school official or a member of his immediate family during the preceding calendar year;

     (3)   Each source of gifts, reimbursements or prepaid expenses having an aggregate value exceeding $250 from any single source, excluding relatives, received by the school official or a member of his immediate family during the preceding calendar year; and 

     (4)   The name and address of all business organizations in which the school official or a member of his immediate family had an interest during the preceding calendar year.] 

     b.    The commission shall prescribe a financial disclosure statement form for filing purposes [. Initial financial disclosure statements shall be filed within 90 days following the effective date of this act. Thereafter, statements shall be filed on or before April 30th each year] which shall be available for download from the commission's website.  Financial disclosure statements shall be filed on or before May 15th each year, except that each school official shall file a financial disclosure statement within 120 days of taking office, being appointed, or commencing employment

     c.     All financial disclosure statements filed shall be public records and made available on the websites of the local school districts.

     d.    The commission shall impose a civil penalty for a failure to file an appropriate financial disclosure statement or form.  The civil penalty shall be $50 for each day of the violation, which penalty may be collected in a summary proceeding pursuant to the "Penalty Enforcement Law of 1999," P.L.1999, c.274 (C.2A:58-10 et seq.).

(cf: P.L.1991, c.393, s.6)

 

     5.    Section 13 of P.L.1991, c.393 (C.18A:12-33) is amended to read as follows:

     13.  a. Each newly elected or appointed board member shall complete during the first year of the member's first term a training program to be prepared and offered by the New Jersey School Boards Association, in consultation with the New Jersey Association of School Administrators, the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association, and the Department of Education, regarding the skills and knowledge necessary to serve as a local school board member.  The training program shall include information regarding the school district monitoring system established pursuant to P.L.2005, c.235, the New Jersey Quality Single Accountability Continuum, and the five key components of school district effectiveness on which school districts are evaluated under the monitoring system: instruction and program; personnel; fiscal management; operations; and governance.

     The board member shall complete a training program on school district governance in each of the subsequent two years of the board member's first term.

     b.    Within one year after each re-election or re-appointment to the board of education, the board member shall complete an advanced training program to be prepared and offered by the New Jersey School Boards Association.  This advanced training program shall include information on relevant changes to New Jersey school law and other information deemed appropriate to enable the board member to serve more effectively.

     c.     The New Jersey School Boards Association shall examine options for providing training programs to school board members through alternative methods such as on-line or other distance learning media or through regional-based training.

     d.    Within one year after being newly elected or appointed or being re-elected or re-appointed to the board of education, a board member shall complete a training program on harassment, intimidation, and bullying in schools, including a school district's responsibilities under P.L.2002, c.83 (C.18A:37-13 et seq.).  A board member shall be required to complete the program only once.

     e.     Training on harassment, intimidation, and bullying in schools shall be provided by the New Jersey School Boards Association, in consultation with recognized experts in school bullying from a cross section of academia, child advocacy organizations, nonprofit organizations, professional associations, and government agencies.

     f.     A school official shall complete a training program on ethical standards established by the State Ethics Commission at such times and intervals as required by the commission.

(cf: P.L.2010, c.122, s.6)

 

     6.    Section 14 of P.L.1991, c.393 (C.18A:12-34) is amended to read as follows: 

     14.  The [State Board of Education] State Ethics Commission may promulgate regulations pursuant to the "Administrative Procedures Act," P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.), to effectuate the purposes of [this act] P.L.1991, c.393 (C.18A:21 et seq.) and P.L.   , c.   (C.    ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill)

(cf: P.L.1991, c.393, s.14)

 

     7.    Section 3 of P.L.1991, c.29 (C.40A:9-22.3) is amended to read as follows:

     3.    As used in this act:

     a.     ["Board" means the Local Finance Board in the Division of Local Government Services in the Department of Community Affairs;] (Deleted by amendment, P.L.    , c.   ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill)

     b.    "Business organization" means any corporation, partnership, firm, enterprise, franchise, association, trust, sole proprietorship, union or other legal entity; 

     c.     "Governing body" means, in the case of a municipality, the commission, council, board or body, by whatever name it may be known, having charge of the finances of the municipality, and, in the case of a county, the board of chosen freeholders, or, in the case of a county having adopted the provisions of the "Optional County Charter Law," P.L.1972, c.154 (C.40:41A-1 et seq.), as defined in the form of government adopted by the county under that act; 

     d.    "Interest" means the ownership or control of more than 10% of the profits, assets or stock of a business organization but shall not include the control of assets in a nonprofit entity or labor union; 

     e.     "Local government agency" means any agency, board, governing body, including the chief executive officer, bureau, division, office, commission or other instrumentality within a county or municipality, and any independent local authority, including any entity created by more than one county or municipality, which performs functions other than of a purely advisory nature, but shall not include a school board; 

     f.     "Local government employee" means any person, whether compensated or not, whether part-time or full-time, employed by or serving on a local government agency who is not a local government officer, but shall not mean any employee of a school district; 

     g.     "Local government officer" means any person whether compensated or not, whether part-time or full-time:  (1) elected to any office of a local government agency;  (2) serving on a local government agency which has the authority to enact ordinances, approve development applications or grant zoning variances; (3) who is a member of an independent municipal, county or regional authority; or (4) who is a managerial executive or confidential employee of a local government agency, as defined in section 3 of the "New Jersey Employer-Employee Relations Act," P.L.1941, c.100 (C.34:13A-3), but shall not mean any employee of a school district or member of a school board;

     h.     ["Local government officer or employee" means a local government officer or a local government employee;] (Deleted by amendment, P.L.    , c.   ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill)

     i.      "Member of immediate family" means the spouse [or dependent child], civil union partner, domestic partner, child, parent, or sibling, whether by blood, marriage or adoption, of a local government officer or employee residing in the same household;

     j.     "Cohabitant" means any person who resides with the local government officer or employee;

     k.    "Commission" means the State Ethics Commission established in but not of the New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety by the provisions of P.L.1971, c.182 (C.52:13D-12 et seq.);

     l.      "Financial Disclosure Statement" means a comprehensive statement of assets, liabilities, business interests and sources of income which persons occupying certain positions in government are required to file annually pursuant to statute, regulation, or Executive Order;

     m.    "Party" means any group, government entity, association, organization, firm, partnership, or corporation; and

     n.     "Relative" means an individual's spouse, civil union partner, or domestic partner, or the individual's, spouse's, civil union partner's, or domestic partner's parent, child, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, grandparent, grandchild, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, stepparent, stepchild, stepbrother, stepsister, half-brother, or half-sister, whether the relative is related by blood, marriage, or adoption

(cf: P.L.1991, c.29, s.3) 

 

     8.    Section 4 of P.L.1991, c.29 (C.40A:9-22.4) is amended to read as follows:     

     4.    The [Local Finance Board in the Division of Local Government Services in the Department of Community Affairs] State Ethics Commission shall have jurisdiction to govern and guide the conduct of local government officers or employees regarding violations of the provisions of this act, or the uniform local ethics code promulgated pursuant to section 28 of P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) [who are not otherwise regulated by a] or any supplemental county or municipal code of ethics promulgated by a county or municipal ethics board in accordance with the provisions of this act.  Local government officers or employees serving a local government agency created by more than one county or municipality and officers or employees of county colleges established pursuant to N.J.S.18A:64A-1 et seq. shall be under the jurisdiction of the [board] commission. The [board] commission in interpreting and applying the provisions of this act shall recognize that under the principles of democracy, public officers and employees cannot and should not be expected to be without any personal interest in the decisions and policies of government; that citizens who are government officers and employees have a right to private interests of a personal, financial and economic nature; and that standards of conduct shall distinguish between those conflicts of interest which are legitimate and unavoidable in a free society and those conflicts of interest which are prejudicial and material and are, therefore, corruptive of democracy and free society. 

(cf: P.L.1995, c.21, s.1)

 

     9.    Section 6 of P.L.1991, c.29 (C.40A:9-22.6) is amended to read as follows:

     6.    a.  Local government officers and certain local government employees as designated by regulation shall annually file a financial disclosure statement.  [All financial disclosure statements filed pursuant to this act shall include the following information which shall specify, where applicable, the name and address of each source and the local government officer's job title: 

     (1)   Each source of income, earned or unearned, exceeding $2,000 received by the local government officer or a member of his immediate family during the preceding calendar year.  Individual client fees, customer receipts or commissions on transactions received through a business organization need not be separately reported as sources of income.  If a publicly traded security is the source of income, the security need not be reported unless the local government officer or member of his immediate family has an interest in the business organization; 

     (2)   Each source of fees and honorariums having an aggregate amount exceeding $250 from any single source for personal appearances, speeches or writings received by the local government officer or a member of his immediate family during the preceding calendar year; 

     (3)   Each source of gifts, reimbursements or prepaid expenses having an aggregate value exceeding $400 from any single source, excluding relatives, received by the local government officer or a member of his immediate family during the preceding calendar year; 

     (4)   The name and address of all business organizations in which the local government officer or a member of his immediate family had an interest during the preceding calendar year; and 

     (5)   The address and brief description of all real property in the State in which the local government officer or a member of his immediate family held an interest during the preceding calendar year.]

     b.    The [Local Finance Board] State Ethics Commission shall prescribe a financial disclosure statement form for filing purposes which shall be available for download from the commission's Internet website[For counties and municipalities which have not established ethics boards, the board shall transmit sufficient copies of the forms to the municipal clerk in each municipality and the county clerk in each county for filing in accordance with this act.  The municipal clerk shall make the forms available to the local government officers serving the municipality.  The county clerk shall make the forms available to the local government officers serving the county.

     For counties and municipalities which have established ethics boards, the [Local Finance Board] State Ethics Commission shall transmit sufficient copies of the forms to the ethics boards for filing in accordance with this act.  The ethics boards shall make the forms available to the local government officers within their jurisdiction.] 

     For local government officers serving [the] a municipality, the original statement shall be filed with the municipal clerk in the municipality in which the local government officer serves.  For local government officers serving [the] a county, the original statement shall be filed with the county clerk in the county in which the local government officer serves.  A copy of the statement shall be filed with the [board] commission.  In [counties or municipalities] any county or municipality which [have] has established [ethics boards] an ethics board, a copy of the statement shall also be filed with the ethics board having jurisdiction over the local government officer.  [Local government officers shall file the initial financial disclosure statement within 90 days following the effective date of this act.  Thereafter, statements] A statement shall be filed on or before [April 30th] May 15th each year, except that each local government officer shall file a financial disclosure statement within [30] 120 days of taking office. 

     c.     All financial disclosure statements filed shall be public records.

     d.    Failure to file the financial disclosure statement by the prescribed deadline shall result in a civil penalty of $50 per day that the statement is late, which may be collected in a summary proceeding pursuant to the "Penalty Enforcement Law of 1999," P.L.1999, c.274 (C.2A:58-10 et seq.). 

(cf: P.L.2008, c.72, s.1)

 

     10.  Section 8 of P.L.1991, c.29 (C.40A:9-22.8) is amended to read as follows:

     8.    A local government officer or employee not regulated by a county or municipal code of ethics may request and obtain from the [Local Finance Board] State Ethics Commission an advisory opinion as to whether any proposed activity or conduct would in its opinion constitute a violation of the provisions of this act or the uniform local ethics code promulgated pursuant to section 28 of P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).  Advisory opinions of the board shall not be made public, except when the [board] commission by the vote of two-thirds of all of its members directs that the opinion be made public.  Public advisory opinions shall not disclose the name of the local government officer or employee unless the [board] commission in directing that the opinion be made public so determines. 

(cf: P.L.1991, c.29, s.8)

 

     11.  Section 10 of P.L.1991, c.29 (C.40A:9-22.10) is amended to read as follows:

     10.  a. [An] Any current or former appointed local government officer or employee found guilty by the [Local Finance Board] State Ethics Commission or a county or municipal ethics board of the violation of any provision of [P.L.1991, c.29 (C.40A:9-22.1 et seq.)] P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) or of any code of ethics in effect pursuant to [P.L.1991, c.29 (C.40A:9-22.1 et seq.)] P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), shall be fined not less than [$100.00] $500 nor more than [$500.00] $10,000, which penalty may be collected in a summary proceeding pursuant to ["The Penalty] the "Penalty  Enforcement Law of 1999," P.L.1999, c.274 (C.2A:58-10 et seq.). The [board] commission or a county or municipal ethics board shall report its findings to the office or agency having the power of removal or discipline of the appointed local government officer or employee and may recommend that further disciplinary action be taken.

     b.    [An] Any current or former elected local government officer or employee found guilty by the [Local Finance Board] State Ethics Commission or a county or municipal ethics board of the violation of any provision of [P.L.1991, c.29 (C.40A:9-22.1 et seq.)] P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) or of any code of ethics in effect pursuant to [P.L.1991, c.29 (C.40A:9-22.1 et seq.)] P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), shall be fined not less than [$100.00] $500 nor more than [$500.00] $10,000, which penalty may be collected in a summary proceeding pursuant to ["The Penalty] the "Penalty Enforcement Law of 1999," P.L.1999, c.274 (C.2A:58-10 et seq.).

     c.     The remedies provided herein are in addition to all other criminal and civil remedies provided under the law.

(cf: P.L.1999, c.440, s.101)

     12.  Section 11 of P.L.1991, c.29 (C.40A:9-22.11) is amended to read as follows:

     11.  The finding by the [Local Finance Board] State Ethics Commission or a county or municipal ethics board that an appointed local government officer or employee is guilty of the violation of the provisions of this act, the uniform local ethics code promulgated pursuant to section 28 of P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), or [of] any supplemental code of ethics in effect pursuant to this act, shall be sufficient cause for his removal, suspension, demotion or other disciplinary action by the officer or agency having the power of removal or discipline.  When a person who is in the career service is charged with violating the provisions of this act or any code of ethics in effect pursuant to this act, the procedure leading to removal, suspension, demotion or other disciplinary action shall be governed by any applicable procedures of Title 11A of the New Jersey Statutes and the rules promulgated pursuant thereto. 

(cf: P.L.1991, c.29, s.11)

 

     13.  Section 15 of P.L.1991, c.29 (C.40A:9-22.15) is amended to read as follows:

     15.  [Within 90 days after] After the establishment of a county ethics board, that ethics board [shall] may promulgate, by resolution, a county code of ethics for all local government officers and employees serving the county, subject to the approval of the State Ethics Commission.  Local government officers and employees serving a county independent authority shall be deemed to be serving the county for purposes of this act. 

     The county code of ethics so promulgated shall be [either identical to the provisions set forth in section 5 of this act or more restrictive, but shall not be less restrictive] formulated with respect to the particular needs and problems of the county to which said code is to apply and, when applicable, shall be a supplement to the uniform local ethics code promulgated pursuant to section 28 of P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).  Within 15 days following the promulgation thereof, the county code of ethics, and a notice of the date of the public hearing to be held thereon, shall be published in at least one newspaper circulating within the county and shall be distributed to the county clerk and to the heads of the local government agencies serving the county for circulation among the local government officers and employees serving the county.  The county ethics board shall hold a public hearing on the county code of ethics not less than 30 days following its promulgation at which any local government officer or employee serving the county and any other person wishing to be heard shall be permitted to testify.  As a result of the hearing, the ethics board may amend or supplement the county code of ethics as it deems necessary. [If the county code of ethics is not identical to the provisions set forth in section 5 of this act, the] The county ethics board shall thereafter submit the county code of ethics to the [Local Finance Board] State Ethics Commission for approval.  The [board] commission shall approve or disapprove a county code of ethics within [60] 30 days following receipt.  If the [board] commission fails to act within that period, the county code of ethics shall be deemed approved.  A county code of ethics requiring [board] commission approval shall take effect for all local government officers and employees serving the county [60] 90 days after approval by the [board] commission[A county code of ethics identical to the provisions set forth in section 5 of this act shall take effect 10 days after the public hearing thereon.]  The county ethics board shall forward a copy of the county code of ethics to the county clerk and shall make copies of the county code of ethics available to local government officers and employees serving the county. 

(cf: P.L.1991, c.29, s.15)

 

     14.  Section 16 of P.L.1991, c.29 (C.40A:9-22.16) is amended to read as follows:

     16.  A county ethics board shall have the following powers:

     a.     To initiate, receive, hear and review complaints and hold hearings with regard to possible violations of the uniform local ethics code promulgated pursuant to section 28 of P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), a supplemental county code of ethics or financial disclosure requirements by local government officers or employees serving the county;

     b.    To conduct investigations, hold hearings and issue subpoenas [for the production of documents and the attendance of witnesses with respect to its investigation of any complaint or to the holding of a hearing] to 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 board and the persons appointed by the board for that purpose are hereby empowered to administer oaths and examine witnesses under oath

     c.     To forward to the county prosecutor or the Attorney General or other governmental body any information concerning violations of the uniform local ethics code promulgated pursuant to section 28 of P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), a supplemental county code of ethics or financial disclosure requirements by local government officers or employees serving the county which may become the subject of criminal prosecution or which may warrant the institution of other legal proceedings by the Attorney General;

     d.    To render advisory opinions to local government officers or employees serving the county as to whether a given set of facts and circumstances would constitute a violation of any provision of the uniform local ethics code promulgated pursuant to section 28 of P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), a supplemental county code of ethics or financial disclosure requirements; 

     e.     To enforce the provisions of the uniform local ethics code promulgated pursuant to section 28 of P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), a supplemental county code of ethics and financial disclosure requirements with regard to local government officers or employees serving the county and to impose penalties for the violation thereof as are authorized by this act; and 

     f.     To adopt rules and regulations pursuant to the "Administrative Procedure Act", P.L. 1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.) and to do other things as are necessary to implement the purposes of this act. 

(cf: P.L.1991, c.29, s.16)

 

     15.  Section 17 of P.L.1991, c.29 (C.40A:9-22.17) is amended to read as follows:

     17.  A local government officer or employee serving the county may request and obtain from the county ethics board an advisory opinion as to whether any proposed activity or conduct would in its opinion constitute a violation of the uniform local ethics code promulgated pursuant to section 28 of P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), a supplemental county code of ethics , or any financial disclosure requirements.  Advisory opinions of the county ethics board shall not be made public, except when the ethics board by the vote of two-thirds of all of its members directs that the opinion be made public.  Public advisory opinions shall not disclose the name of the local government officer or employee unless the ethics board in directing that the opinion be made public so determines.  A final decision of the ethics board may be appealed to the State Ethics Commission within 30 days of the decision. 

(cf: P.L.1991, c.29, s.17)

 

     16.  Section 18 of P.L.1991, c.29 (C.40A:9-22.18) is amended to read as follows:

     18.  The county ethics board, upon receipt of a signed written complaint by any person alleging that the conduct of any local government officer or employee serving the county is in conflict with the uniform local ethics code promulgated pursuant to section 28 of P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), a supplemental county code of ethics or any financial disclosure requirements shall acknowledge receipt of the complaint within 30 days of receipt and initiate an investigation concerning the facts and circumstances set forth in the complaint.  The ethics board shall make a determination as to whether the complaint is within its jurisdiction or frivolous or without any reasonable factual basis.  If the ethics board shall conclude that the complaint is outside its jurisdiction, frivolous or without factual basis, it shall reduce that conclusion to writing and shall transmit a copy thereof to the complainant and to the local government officer or employee against whom the complaint was filed. Otherwise the ethics board shall notify the local government officer or employee against whom the complaint was filed of the nature of the complaint and the facts and circumstances set forth therein.  The officer or employee shall have the opportunity to present the ethics board with any statement or information concerning the complaint which he wishes.  Thereafter, if the ethics board determines that a reasonable doubt exists as to whether the local government officer or employee is in conflict with the uniform local ethics code promulgated pursuant to section 28 of P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), a supplemental county code of ethics or any financial disclosure requirements, it shall conduct a hearing in the manner prescribed by section 12 of this act, concerning the possible violation and any other facts and circumstances which may have come to its attention with respect to the conduct of the local government officer or employee.  The ethics board shall render a decision as to whether the conduct of the officer or employee is in conflict with the uniform local ethics code promulgated pursuant to section 28 of P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), a supplemental county code of ethics or any financial disclosure requirements.  This decision shall be made by no less than two-thirds of all members of the ethics board.  If the ethics board determines that the officer or employee is in conflict with the uniform local ethics code promulgated pursuant to section 28 of P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), a supplemental county code of ethics or any financial disclosure requirements, it may impose any penalties which it believes appropriate within the limitations of this act.  A final decision of the ethics board may be appealed to the [Local Finance Board] State Ethics Commission within 30 days of the decision.  

(cf: P.L.1991, c.29, s.18)

    

     17.  Section 21 of P.L.1991, c.29 (C.40A:9-22.21) is amended to read as follows:

     21.  [Within 90 days after] After the establishment of a municipal ethics board, that ethics board [shall] may promulgate by resolution a municipal code of ethics for all local government officers and employees serving the municipality , subject to the approval of the State Ethics Commission.  Local government officers and employees serving a municipal independent authority shall be deemed to be serving the municipality for purposes of this act.

     The municipal code of ethics so promulgated shall be [either identical to the provisions set forth in section 5 of this act or more restrictive, but shall not be less restrictive] formulated with respect to the particular needs and problems of the local municipality to which said code is to apply and, when applicable, shall be a supplement to the uniform local ethics code promulgated pursuant to section 28 of P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).  Within 15 days following the promulgation thereof, the municipal code of ethics, and a notice of the date of the public hearing to be held thereon, shall be published in at least one newspaper circulating within the municipality and shall be distributed to the municipal clerk and to the heads of the local government agencies serving the municipality for circulation among the local government officers and employees serving the municipality.  The municipal ethics board shall hold a public hearing on the municipal code of ethics not less than 30 days following its promulgation at which any local government officer or employee serving the municipality and any other person wishing to be heard shall be permitted to testify.  As a result of the hearing, the ethics board may amend or supplement the municipal code of ethics as it deems necessary.  [If the municipal code of ethics is not identical to the provisions set forth in section 5 of this act, the] The municipal ethics board shall thereafter submit the municipal code of ethics to the [Local Finance Board] State Ethics Commission for approval.  The [board] commission shall approve or disapprove a municipal code of ethics within [60] 90 days following receipt.  If the [board] commission fails to act within that period, the municipal code of ethics shall be deemed approved.  A municipal code of ethics requiring [board] commission approval shall take effect for all local government officers and employees serving the municipality [60] 30 days after approval by the [board] commission[A municipal code of ethics identical to the provisions set forth in section 5 of this act shall take effect 10 days after the public hearing held thereon.]  The municipal ethics board shall forward a copy of the municipal code of ethics to the municipal clerk and shall make copies of the municipal code of ethics available to local government officers and employees serving the municipality. 

(cf: P.L.1991, c.29, s.21)

 

     18.  Section 22 of P.L.1991, c.29 (C.40A:9-22.22) is amended to read as follows:

     22.  A municipal ethics board shall have the following powers:

     a.     To initiate, receive, hear and review complaints and hold hearings with regard to possible violations of the uniform local ethics code promulgated pursuant to section 28 of P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), a supplemental municipal code of ethics or financial disclosure requirements by local government officers or employees serving the municipality; 

     b.    To conduct investigations, hold hearings, and issue subpoenas [for the production of documents and the attendance of witnesses with respect to its investigation of any complaint or to the holding of a hearing] to 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 board and the persons appointed by the board for that purpose are hereby empowered to administer oaths and examine witnesses under oath

     c.     To forward to the county prosecutor or the Attorney General or other governmental body any information concerning violations of the uniform local ethics code promulgated pursuant to section 28 of P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), a supplemental municipal code of ethics or financial disclosure requirements by local government officers or employees serving the municipality which may become the subject of criminal prosecution or which may warrant the institution of other legal proceedings by the Attorney General; 

     d.    To render advisory opinions to local government officers or employees serving the municipality as to whether a given set of facts and circumstances would constitute a violation of any provision of the uniform local ethics code promulgated pursuant to section 28 of P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), a supplemental municipal code of ethics or financial disclosure requirements; 

     e.     To enforce the provisions of the uniform local ethics code promulgated pursuant to section 28 of P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), a supplemental municipal code of ethics and financial disclosure requirements with regard to local government officers or employees serving the municipality  and to impose penalties for the violation thereof as are authorized by this act; and 

     f.     To adopt rules and regulations pursuant to the "Administrative Procedure Act," P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.) and to do other things as are necessary to implement the purposes of this act. 

(cf: P.L.1991, c.29, s.22) 

 

     19.  Section 23 of P.L.1991, c.29 (C.40A:9-22.23) is amended to read as follows:

     23.  A local government officer or employee serving the municipality may request and obtain from the municipal ethics board an advisory opinion as to whether any proposed activity or conduct would in its opinion constitute a violation of the uniform local ethics code promulgated pursuant to section 28 of P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), a supplemental municipal code of ethics , or any financial disclosure requirements.  Advisory opinions of the municipal ethics board shall not be made public, except when the ethics board by the vote of two-thirds of all of its members directs that the opinion be made public. Public advisory opinions shall not disclose the name of the local government officer or employee unless the ethics board in directing that the opinion be made public so determines.  A final decision of the ethics board may be appealed to the State Ethics Commission within 30 days of the decision.

(cf: P.L.1991, c.29, s.23)


     20.  Section 24 of P.L.1991, c.29 (C.40A:9-22.24) is amended to read as follows:

     24.  The municipal ethics board, upon receipt of a signed written complaint by any person alleging that the conduct of any local government officer or employee serving the municipality is in conflict with the uniform local ethics code promulgated pursuant to section 28 of P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), a supplemental municipal code of ethics , or financial disclosure requirements, shall acknowledge receipt of the complaint within 30 days of receipt and initiate an investigation concerning the facts and circumstances set forth in the complaint.  The ethics board shall make a determination as to whether the complaint is within its jurisdiction or frivolous or without any reasonable factual basis.  If the ethics board shall conclude that the complaint is outside its jurisdiction, frivolous or without factual basis, it shall reduce that conclusion to writing and shall transmit a copy thereof to the complainant and to the local government officer or employee against whom the complaint was filed. Otherwise the ethics board shall notify the local government officer or employee against whom the complaint was filed of the nature of the complaint and the facts and circumstances set forth therein.  The officer or employee shall have the opportunity to present the ethics board with any statement or information concerning the complaint which he wishes.  Thereafter, if the ethics board determines that a reasonable doubt exists as to whether the local government officer or employee is in conflict with the uniform local ethics code promulgated pursuant to section 28 of P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), a supplemental municipal code of ethics , or any financial disclosure requirements, it shall conduct a hearing in the manner prescribed by section 12 of this act, concerning the possible violation and any other facts and circumstances which may have come to its attention with respect to the conduct of the local government officer or employee.  The ethics board shall render a decision as to whether the conduct of the officer or employee is in conflict with the uniform local ethics code promulgated pursuant to section 28 of P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), a supplemental municipal code of ethics , or any financial disclosure requirements.  This decision shall be made by no less than two-thirds of all members of the ethics board. 

     If the ethics board determines that the officer or employee is in conflict with the uniform local ethics code promulgated pursuant to section 28 of P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), a supplemental municipal code of ethics, or any financial disclosure requirements, it may impose any penalties which it believes appropriate within the limitations of this act.  A final decision of the ethics board may be appealed to the [Local Finance Board] State Ethics Commission within 30 days of the decision. 

(cf: P.L.1991, c.29, s.24)

     21.  (New section)  a.  Within 180 days following the effective date of P.L.   , c.   (C.    ) (pending before the Legislature as this act), the State Ethics Commission shall promulgate a uniform code of ethics to govern and guide the conduct of all school officials.  The ethics code promulgated pursuant to this subsection shall include the provisions of section 4 of P.L.1991, c.393 (C.18A:12-24).

     b.    A local school district may establish a supplemental code of ethics to address the particular needs and problems of the school district.  A supplemental code of ethics established pursuant to this subsection shall become effective only upon its approval by the State Ethics Commission.  A representative of a local school district may consult with the State Ethics Commission at any time in connection with the preparation or revision of a supplemental code of ethics.

 

     22.  (New section)  a.  In addition to the powers and duties set forth in P.L.1971, c.182 (C.52:13D-21 et seq.), the State Ethics Commission shall:

     (1)   Pursuant to the provisions of P.L.1971, c.182 (C.52:13D-12 et seq.), 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 commission and the persons appointed by the commission for that purpose are hereby empowered to administer oaths and examine witnesses under oath;

     (2)   Be 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 P.L.1991, c.393 (C.18A:12-21 et seq.), section 5 of P.L.2001, c.178 (C.18A:12-24.1), P.L.   , c.    (C.    ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), or a code of ethics established by a local school district;

     (3)   Have jurisdiction to initiate, receive, hear, and review complaints regarding violations by any current or former school official, of the provisions of P.L.1991, c.393 (C.18A:12-21 et seq.), section 5 of P.L.2001, c.178 (C.18A:12-24.1), P.L.   , c.    (C.    ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), or a code of ethics established by the State Ethics Commission or by a local school district.

     An investigation regarding a violation committed during service by a school official shall be initiated by the commission not later than two years following the termination of service.

     The commission shall have the authority to dismiss a complaint that it determines to be frivolous; and

     (4)   Conduct audits of the ethics policies, procedures and practices of local school districts to determine their compliance with the reporting, documentation, training and other ethics requirements contained in P.L.1991, c.393 (C.18A:12-21 et seq.), section 5 of P.L.2001, c.178 (C.18A:12-24.1), P.L.   , c.    (C.    ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), or a code of ethics established by the State Ethics Commission or by a local school district, and require local school districts to correct any deficiencies identified by an audit.

     b.    Any current or former school official found guilty by the commission of violating any provision of P.L.1991, 393 (C.18A:12-21 et seq.), section 5 of P.L.2001, c.178 (C.18A:12-24.1), P.L.   , c.    (C.    ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), or a code of ethics established by the State Ethics Commission or a local school district, shall be fined not less than $500 nor more than $10,000 per violation, which penalty may be collected in a summary proceeding pursuant to the "Penalty Enforcement Law of 1999,"  P.L.1999, c.274 (C.2A:58-10 et seq.).

     A school official may be suspended from office or employment if the commission finds that the conduct constitutes a willful and continuous disregard of the provisions of P.L.1991, c.393 (C.18A:12-21 et seq.), section 5 of P.L.2001, c.178 (C.18A:12-24.1), P.L.   , c.    (C.    ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), or a code of ethics established by the State Ethics Commission or the local school district.

     The commission may order restitution, demotion, censure or reprimand.

     c.     The remedies provided herein are in addition to all other criminal and civil remedies provided under the law.

 

     23.  (New section)  Violations of a code of ethics established pursuant to P.L.1991, c.393 (C.18A:12-21 et seq.), section 5 of P.L.2001, c.178 (C.18A:12-24.1), P.L.   , c.    (C.    ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), or a code of ethics established by the local school district shall be cause for removal, suspension, demotion or other disciplinary action by the board of education having the power of removal or discipline.  No action for removal or discipline shall be taken under this subsection except upon the referral or with the approval of the State Ethics Commission and in accordance with the procedures governed by the applicable provisions of Title 18A of the New Jersey Statutes regarding tenure rights or Title 11A of the New Jersey Statutes.

 

     24.  (New section)  No person shall induce or attempt to induce any school official to violate any provision of P.L.1991, c.393 (C.18A:12-21 et seq.), section 5 of P.L.2001, c.178 (C.18A:12-24.1), P.L.   , c.    (C.    ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), or a code of ethics established by a local school district.  Any person who willfully violates this section is a disorderly person, and shall be subject to a fine not to exceed $500 or imprisonment not to exceed 6 months, or both.  The commission shall refer these matters to appropriate law enforcement agencies.

     25.  (New section)  No school official, subsequent to the termination of his office or employment in the local school district, shall represent, appear for, negotiate on behalf of, or provide information not generally available to members of the public or services to, or agree to represent, appear for, negotiate on behalf of, or provide information not generally available to members of the public or services to, whether by himself or through any partnership, firm, or corporation in which he has an interest or through any partner, officer, or employee thereof, any person or party other than the local school district in connection with any cause, proceeding, application, or other matter with respect to which the school official shall have made any investigation, rendered any ruling, given any opinion, or been otherwise substantially and directly involved at any time during the course of his office or employment.

 

     26.  (New section)  When a quorum of a board of education or a board of trustees of a charter school invokes the doctrine of necessity, it shall use the following procedure:

     a.     Adopt a resolution setting forth that it is invoking the doctrine of necessity, the reason for doing so, and the specific nature of the conflict of interest;

     b.    Read the resolution at a regularly scheduled public meeting; and

     c.     Post a copy of the resolution for 30 days in the place where it posts other public notices.

 

     27.  (New section)  a.  The School Ethics Commission established pursuant to section 7 of P.L.1991, c.393 (C.18A:12-27) is abolished and all of its functions, powers, and duties are transferred to and assumed by the State Ethics Commission.

     b.    Whenever, in any law, rule, regulation, order, contract, document, judicial or administrative proceeding or otherwise, reference is made to the School Ethics Commission, the same shall mean and refer to the State Ethics Commission.

     c.     All cases pending before the School Ethics Commission on the effective date of this act shall be transmitted to the State Ethics Commission for resolution consistent with the provisions of P.L.  , c.           (C.  ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).

     d.    Initial decisions rendered on or after the effective date of this act in contested matters previously transmitted to the Office of Administrative Law by the State Ethics Commission shall be transmitted to the State Ethics Commission for final decision consistent with section 10 of P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-10).

     e.     This transfer shall be subject to the provisions of the "State Agency Transfer Act," P.L.1971, c.375 (C.52:14D-1 et seq.).

 

     28.  (New section) Local government officers or employees under the jurisdiction of the State Ethics Commission shall comply with the uniform local ethics code promulgated by the State Ethics Commission, which shall include the following provisions: 

     a.     No local government officer or employee, member of his immediate family, relative, or cohabitant shall have an interest in a business organization or engage in any business, transaction, or professional activity, which is in substantial conflict with the proper discharge of his duties in the public interest; 

     b.    No independent local authority shall, for a period of one year next subsequent to the termination of office of a member of that authority: 

     (1)   award any contract which is not publicly bid to a former member of that authority; 

     (2)   allow a former member of that authority to represent, appear for or negotiate on behalf of any other party before that authority; or

     (3)   employ for compensation, except pursuant to open competitive examination in accordance with Title 11A of the New Jersey Statutes and the rules and regulations promulgated pursuant thereto, any former member of that authority. 

     The restrictions contained in this subsection shall also apply to any business organization in which the former authority member holds an interest.

     c.     No local government officer or employee shall use or attempt to use his official position to secure unwarranted privileges or advantages for himself or others; 

     d.    No local government officer or employee shall act in his official capacity in any matter where he, a relative or cohabitant, or a business organization in which he has an interest, has a direct or indirect financial or personal involvement that might reasonably be expected to impair his objectivity or independence of judgment; 

     e.     No local government officer or employee shall undertake any employment or service, whether compensated or not, which might reasonably be expected to impair his objectivity or independence of judgment in the exercise of his official duties; 

     f.     No local government officer or employee, member of his immediate family, cohabitant, partner, associate, or business organization in which he has an interest, shall directly or indirectly solicit or accept any gift, favor, loan, political contribution, service, employment, promise of future employment, or other thing of value related in any way to the local government officer's or employee's public duties.  This provision shall not apply to the solicitation or acceptance of contributions to the campaign of an announced candidate for elective public office, if the local government officer has no knowledge or reason to believe that the campaign contribution, if accepted, was given with the intent to influence the local government officer in the discharge of his official duties;

     g.     No local government officer or employee shall knowingly act in any way that might reasonably be expected to create an impression or suspicion among the public having knowledge of his acts that he may be engaged in conduct violative of his trust as a local government officer or employee;

     h.     No local government officer or employee shall use, or willfully disclose to any person, any information, not generally available to the members of the public, which he receives or acquires in the course of and by reason of his office or employment; 

     i.      No local government officer or employee or business organization in which he has an interest shall represent , appear for, or negotiate on behalf of, or agree to represent, appear for, or negotiate on behalf of, any person or party other than the local government in connection with any cause, proceeding, application or other matter pending before any agency in the local government in which he serves.  This provision shall not be deemed to prohibit one local government employee from representing another local government employee where the local government agency is the employer and the representation is within the context of official labor union or similar representational responsibilities;

     j.     No local government officer or employee or business organization in which he has an interest shall knowingly undertake or execute, in whole or in part, any contract, agreement, sale or purchase of the value of $25 or more, made, entered into, awarded or granted by any agency in the local government in which he serves. The provisions of this subsection shall not apply to contracts, agreements, sales or purchases which are made or let after public notice and competitive bidding.

     k.    No local government officer or employee shall supervise, or exercise authority with regard to personnel actions over, a relative or cohabitant of the local government officer or employee;

     l.      No local government officer shall be deemed in conflict with these provisions if, by reason of his participation in the enactment of any ordinance, resolution or other matter required to be voted upon or which is subject to executive approval or veto, no material or monetary gain accrues to him as a member of any business, profession, occupation or group, to any greater extent than any gain could reasonably be expected to accrue to any other member of such business, profession, occupation or group; 

     m.    No elected local government officer shall be prohibited from making an inquiry for information on behalf of a constituent, if no fee, reward or other thing of value is promised to, given to or accepted by the officer or a member of his immediate family, whether directly or indirectly, in return therefor; and 

     n.     Nothing shall prohibit any local government officer or employee, or members of his immediate family, from representing himself, or themselves, in negotiations or proceedings concerning his, or their, own interests. 

 

     29.  (New section)  In addition to the powers and duties set forth in section 10 of P.L.1971, c.182 (C.52:13D-21), the State Ethics Commission may:

     a.     Initiate, receive, hear and review complaints and hold hearings with regarding to possible violations of P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) or any code of ethics promulgated pursuant to this act by any current or former local government employee or local government officer.  An investigation regarding a violation committed during service by a former local government employee or local government officer shall be initiated by the commission not later than two years following the termination of service;

     b.    Refer complaints received by the commission to a county or municipal ethics board with jurisdiction over the matter;

     c.     Conduct investigations, hold hearings, and issue subpoenas to 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 commission and the persons appointed by the commission for that purpose are hereby empowered to administer oaths and examine witnesses under oath;

     d.    Hear and determine any appeal of a decision made by a county or municipal ethics board;

     e.     Forward to the county prosecutor or the Attorney General or other governmental body any information concerning violations of P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) which may become the subject of criminal prosecution or which may warrant the institution of other legal proceedings by the Attorney General;

     f.     Render advisory opinions as to whether a given set of facts and circumstances would constitute a violation of this act or of a code of ethics promulgated pursuant to the provisions of P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill);

     g.     Enforce the provisions of P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) and impose penalties for the violation thereof;

     h.     Create a uniform local ethics code that establishes ethical standards applicable to all local government employees and local government officers;

     i.      Establish procedures ensuring that each local government employee or local government officer receives a copy of the uniform local ethics code.  Each local government employee or local government officer shall certify that he or she has received the uniform local ethics code, reviewed it, and understands its provisions;

     j.     Establish an ethics training program for local government officers and employees that must be completed by local government officers and employees at such times and in such intervals as the commission shall require;

     k.    Conduct audits of the ethics policies, procedures and practices of local government agencies to determine their compliance with the reporting, documentation, training and other ethics requirements contained in P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), a code of ethics, and any regulation adopted pursuant to P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), and to require local government agencies to correct any deficiencies identified by an audit; and

     l.      Adopt rules and regulations pursuant to the "Administrative Procedure Act," P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.) and to do other things as are necessary to implement the purposes of this act.

 

     30.  The following sections are repealed:

     Sections 5, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 of P.L.1991, c.393 (C.18A:12-25, C.18A:12-27, C.18A:12-28, C.18A:12-29, C.18A:12-30, C.18A:12-31);

     Section 1 of P.L.2004, c.131 (C.18A:12-23.1);

     Section 3 of P.L.2008, c.36 (C.18A:12-29.1); and

     Sections 5, 7 and 9 of P.L.1991, c.29 (C.40A:9-22.5, C.40A:9-22.7, and C.40A:9-22.9).

 

     31.  This act shall take effect immediately.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     Under the provisions of this bill, the State Ethics Commission will assume responsibility for promulgating new uniform ethics codes for local officials and school officials.  The bill requires the commission to hear and adjudicate complaints of ethics violations against local officials and expedites the hearing procedure; currently, this is the responsibility of the Local Finance Board.  The commission will also hear and adjudicate complaints of ethics violations against school officials.  The School Ethics Commission, which currently performs that function, is abolished.

     Penalties for ethical violations by local officials or school officials are strengthened under the bill to make the penalties similar to those contained in the "New Jersey Conflicts of Interest Law" which governs State officers and employees.

     The bill also requires the State Ethics Commission to promulgate a financial disclosure form for the use of local officials and school officials, and to put it on their Internet website for convenient downloading.

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