A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

State Legislative Ethics Commission recommends update of laws to General Assembly

Kentucky’s Legislative Ethics Commission has unanimously approved several recommendations for the General Assembly to update the state’s legislative ethics law.  The recommendations focus on increasing transparency and effectiveness of the law, and addressing issues that have arisen in recent years.

The Commission’s primary recommendation is to create a clear ethical prohibition against discrimination and harassment by legislators and legislative agents (lobbyists) against legislative employees, legislators, or lobbyists.

The Commission recommends the General Assembly enact statutory language similar to 2018 House Bill 9, which passed the House 86-7, and includes the following:

  • Specifically define “discrimination”, “workplace harassment”, and “sexual harassment” as actions that violate either Kentucky or federal statutes, regulations, or case law; define “legislative workplace complaint”.
  • Prohibit legislators, lobbyists, and the LRC Director from intentionally engaging in discrimination or workplace harassment against an employee of the legislative branch, legislator, or lobbyist, and provide that a violation is ethical misconduct.
  • Permit a legislative employee, legislator, or lobbyist to file a legislative workplace complaint with the Ethics Commission, and authorize the Commission to investigate and proceed upon receipt of a workplace complaint.
  • Specify that the complaint process is voluntary, confidential, and is an option that is separate from any other reporting process a complainant may choose.
  • Provide an expedited (30 day) process in which the Ethics Commission will determine facts and attempt to bring an immediate end to inappropriate activity, if any is found.

The second recommendation would authorize the Commission to dismiss a complaint via a teleconference call, if a complaint or preliminary inquiry is publicly disclosed by the complainant, or the complainant comments publicly about the complaint.

 Implementing this recommendation would help maintain confidentiality of complaints during the confidential preliminary inquiry process, and address an issue that arises, for example, when a complaint is filed in an election campaign, and a complainant attempts to use the complaint process for political purposes.

Under its third recommendation, the Legislative Ethics Commission would have clear authority to adjudicate a complaint filed against a legislator, even if the legislator leaves office after the complaint is filed, as long as the complaint is based upon action that occurred not more than a year prior to the separation from office.

 With a fourth recommendation, the Commission suggests amending legislators’ financial disclosure requirements to include a listing of all out-of-state travel associated with the performance of a legislator’s duties.  In adopting this recommendation, the Commission said information about legislative travel should be easily available to the public.

Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission

Related Posts

Leave a Comment