PRINTER'S NO. 3049
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA
INTRODUCED BY HAGGERTY, ROZZI, SWANGER AND THOMAS, FEBRUARY 26, 2014
REFERRED TO COMMITTEE ON STATE GOVERNMENT, FEBRUARY 26, 2014
1Amending Title 65 (Public Officers) of the Pennsylvania
2Consolidated Statutes, prohibiting hiring of local government
3officials in district offices of members of the General
4Assembly; and providing penalties.
10HIRING PRACTICES FOR THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
121501. Legislative findings.
141503. Prohibited hiring practices.
151504. Powers and duties of commission.
161505. Investigations by commission.
18§ 1501. Legislative findings.
19(a) Declaration.--The General Assembly hereby declares that
1intergovernmental cooperation is vital in the efficient and
2effective delivery of services to the citizens of this
3Commonwealth. The General Assembly further declares that public
4office is a public trust and that any effort to realize personal
5financial gain through public office other than compensation
6provided by law is a violation of that trust. In order to
7strengthen the faith and confidence of the people of this
8Commonwealth in their government, the General Assembly further
9declares that the people have a right to be assured that the
10hiring practices of the members of the General Assembly do not
11conflict with the public trust. While previously enacted
12measures of law were implemented to ensure the public trust
13through financial disclosure by public officials and
14prohibitions on seeking and accepting improper influence,
15certain hiring practices could create the potential for
16additional conflicts of interest.
17(b) Recognition.--It is recognized that many public
18officials, including most local officials and members of the
19General Assembly, are employers who require the skills and
20assistance of qualified individuals in order to address the
21concerns of and provide services to constituents and taxpayers.
22Members of the General Assembly should not be discouraged from
23hiring the most qualified applicants to fill necessary
24occupations and professions. Likewise, qualified job seekers
25should not be discouraged from pursuing public service
26positions. Thus, in order to foster maximum compliance with its
27terms, this chapter shall be administered in a manner that
28emphasizes guidance to members of the General Assembly and local
29officials regarding the ethical standards established by this
1§ 1502. Definitions.
5"Commission." The State Ethics Commission.
9"Local official." Any person elected by the public or
10elected or appointed by a governmental body or an appointed
11official in any political subdivision of this Commonwealth,
12provided that the term shall not include members of advisory
13boards that have no authority to expend public funds other than
14reimbursement for personal expense or to otherwise exercise the
15power of any political subdivision of this Commonwealth.
18"Political subdivision." Any county, city, borough,
19incorporated town, township, school district, vocational school,
20county institution district, and any authority, entity or body
21organized by the aforementioned.
22§ 1503. Prohibited hiring practices.
23No member of the General Assembly shall knowingly and
24willingly employ, in any capacity in the member's district
25office, a local official from a political subdivision within the
26member's legislative district.
27§ 1504. Powers and duties of commission.
30(1) Prescribe and publish rules and regulations to carry
1out the provisions of this chapter.
2(2) Issue to any person upon such person's request or to
3the appointing authority or employer of that person upon the
4request of such appointing authority or employer an opinion
5with respect to such person's duties under this chapter. The
6commission shall, within 14 days, either issue the opinion or
7advise the person who made the request whether an opinion
8will be issued. No person who acts in good faith on an
9opinion issued to the person by the commission shall be
10subject to criminal or civil penalties for so acting,
11provided that the material facts are as stated in the opinion
12request. The commission's opinions shall be public records
13and may from time to time be published. The person requesting
14the opinion may, however, require that the opinion shall
15contain such deletions and changes as shall be necessary to
16protect the identity of the persons involved.
17(3) Provide written advice to any person or the
18appointing authority or employer of such person upon their
19request with respect to such person's duties under this
20chapter. Such advice shall be provided within 21 working days
21of the request, provided that the time may be extended for
22good cause. It shall be a complete defense in any enforcement
23proceeding initiated by the commission and evidence of good
24faith conduct in any other civil or criminal proceeding if
25the requester, at least 21 working days prior to the alleged
26violation, requested written advice from the commission in
27good faith, disclosed truthfully all the material facts and
28committed the acts complained of either in reliance on the
29advice or because of the failure of the commission to provide
30advice within 21 days of the request or such later extended
8(5) Issue findings, reports and orders relating to
9investigations initiated under section 1505 which set forth
10the alleged violation, findings of fact and conclusions of
11law. An order may include recommendations to law enforcement
12officials. Any order resulting from a finding that a local
13official or member has obtained a financial gain in violation
14of Chapter 11 (relating to ethics standards and financial
15disclosure) may require the restitution plus interest of that
16gain to the appropriate governmental body. The commission or
17the Office of Attorney General shall have standing to apply
18to Commonwealth Court to seek enforcement of an order
19requiring such restitution. This restitution requirement
20shall be in addition to any other penalties provided for in
30(9) Prepare and publish prior to June 1 of each year an
1annual report summarizing the activities of the commission.
2§ 1505. Investigations by commission.
3(a) Preliminary inquiry.--Upon a complaint signed under
4penalty of perjury by any person or upon its own motion, the
5commission, through its executive director, shall conduct a
6preliminary inquiry into any alleged violation of this chapter.
7The commission shall keep information, records and proceedings
8relating to a preliminary inquiry confidential. The commission
9shall, however, have the authority to refer the case to law
10enforcement officials during a preliminary inquiry or anytime
11thereafter without providing notice to the subject of the
12inquiry. The commission shall complete its preliminary inquiry
13within 60 days of its initiation.
14(b) Termination of preliminary inquiry.--If a preliminary
15inquiry fails to establish reason to believe that this chapter
16has been violated, the commission shall terminate the inquiry
17and so notify the complainant and the person who had been the
18subject of the inquiry. If the commission determines that a
19complaint is frivolous, it shall so state.
20(c) Initiation of investigation.--If a preliminary inquiry
21establishes reason to believe that this chapter has been
22violated, the commission may, through its executive director,
23initiate an investigation to determine if there has been a
24violation. The commission shall keep information, records and
25proceedings relating to an investigation confidential until a
26final determination is made, except as otherwise provided in
27subsection (g). No investigation may be commenced until the
28person who is the subject of the investigation has been notified
29and provided a general statement of the alleged violation or
30violations of this chapter and other applicable statutes with
1respect to such investigation. Service of notice is complete
2upon mailing which shall be by certified or registered mail. The
3commission shall notify the complainant within 72 hours of the
4commencement of an investigation, and, thereafter, the
5commission shall advise the complainant and the person who is
6the subject of the investigation of the status of the
7investigation at least every 90 days until the investigation is
8terminated. The commission shall, within 180 days of the
9initiation of an investigation, either terminate the
10investigation under subsection (d) or issue a finding report
11under subsection (e). Upon a showing by the executive director
12of the need for extension of this period, the commission may
13extend an investigation for up to two 90-day periods, provided
14that each 90-day extension shall be approved by a majority vote
15of members present. In no event shall a findings report be
16issued later than 360 days after initiation of an investigation.
17(d) Termination of investigation.--If an investigation
18conducted under this chapter indicates that no violation has
19been committed, the commission shall immediately terminate the
20investigation and send written notice of such determination to
21the complainant and the person who was the subject of the
23(e) Findings report.--The commission, upon the completion of
24an investigation, shall issue a findings report to the subject
25of the investigation setting forth the pertinent findings of
26fact. The subject shall have the right to respond to said
27findings and to request an evidentiary hearing on said matter.
28The commission shall grant any request for a hearing. Said
29hearing shall be held in Harrisburg or, at the request of the
30subject, in either Philadelphia or Pittsburgh. Any response to
1the findings report must either admit or deny by corresponding
2number and letter the pertinent facts set forth. The subject of
3the investigation shall have access to any evidence intended to
4be used by the commission at the hearing and any exculpatory
5evidence developed by the commission in the course of its
6investigation. Matters not specifically denied in the response
7shall be deemed admitted. The response must be filed within 30
8days of the issuance of the findings report unless the time
9period is extended by the commission for good cause shown.
10Hearings conducted upon request shall be instituted within 45
11days after the filing of the response.
12(f) Final order.--Within 30 days of the receipt by the
13commission of the hearing record or, if no hearing is to be
14held, within 30 days of the receipt by the commission of the
15response to the findings report, the commission shall issue an
16order which shall be final. Upon receipt of a final order, the
17subject shall have the right to file a petition for
18reconsideration in accordance with the regulations of the
20(g) Procedure for hearing.--Hearings conducted under this
21section shall be closed to the public unless the subject
22requests an open hearing. Any person who appears before the
23commission shall have all of the due process rights, privileges
24and responsibilities of a party or witness appearing before an
25administrative agency of this Commonwealth. All witnesses
26summoned for such hearings shall receive reimbursement for
27reasonable expenses in accordance with 42 Pa.C.S. § 5903
28(relating to compensation and expenses of witnesses). At the
29conclusion of a hearing concerning an alleged violation and in a
30timely manner, the commission shall deliberate on the evidence
1and determine whether there has been a violation of this
2chapter. At least four members of the commission present at a
3meeting must find a violation by clear and convincing proof. The
4names of the members finding a violation and the names of those
5dissenting and abstaining shall be listed in the order. The
6determination of the commission, in the form of a final order
7and findings of fact, shall be a matter of public record.
8(h) Availability of final orders, files and records.--Orders
9which become final in accordance with the provisions of this
10section shall be available as public documents, but the files
11and records of the commission relating to the case shall remain
13(i) Appeal.--Any person aggrieved by an opinion or order
14which becomes final in accordance with the provisions of this
15chapter who has direct interest in such opinion or order shall
16have the right to appeal therefrom in accordance with law and
18(j) Confidentiality.--As a general rule, no person shall
19disclose or acknowledge to any other person any information
20relating to a complaint, preliminary inquiry, investigation,
21hearing or petition for reconsideration which is before the
22commission. However, a person may disclose or acknowledge to
23another person matters held confidential in accordance with this
24subsection when the matters pertain to any of the following:
27(2) hearings conducted in public under subsection (g);
28(3) for the purpose of seeking advice of legal counsel;
29(4) filing an appeal from a commission order;
30(5) communicating with the commission or its staff, in
15(k) Frivolous complaints and wrongful disclosure.--If a
16member has reason to believe the complaint is frivolous as
17defined by this chapter, or without probable cause and made
18primarily for a purpose other than that of reporting a violation
19of this chapter, or a person publicly disclosed or caused to be
20disclosed that a complaint against the member has been filed
21with the commission, the member shall notify the commission and
22the commission, through its executive director, shall conduct an
27§ 1506. Penalties.
13(c) Impeachment and disciplinary action.--The penalties
14prescribed in this chapter do not limit the power of either
15chamber of the General Assembly to discipline its own members
16and do not limit the power of political subdivisions to
17discipline local officials.
18(d) Other violations of chapter.--Any person who violates
19the confidentiality of a commission proceeding under section
201505 (relating to investigations by commission) commits a
21misdemeanor and shall, upon conviction, be sentenced to pay a
22fine of not more than $1,000 or to imprisonment for not more
23than one year, or both. Any person who willfully affirms or
24swears falsely in regard to any material matter before a
25commission proceeding under section 1505 commits a felony and
26shall, upon conviction, be sentenced to pay a fine of not more
27than $5,000 or to imprisonment for not more than five years, or
29Section 2. This act shall take effect in 120 days.