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House | April 22, 2015 | Committee Room | House: Ethics

Full MP3 Audio File

Great That's why I said that. Good morning everybody I would like to call this meeting of the house ethics committee to order we have one bill today but before we do that let me introduce if I could some people, so we have three pagers with us who are sitting in the back Livio O'brien  if you would stand Mr. O'brien is from Randolph county is that right? And your sponsor is representative Harris Welcome, Ethan Afton, Ethan is from Missouri county and your sponsor is representative Cyrus Stevens is that correct? Okay, welcome and Jacob Johnson, Jacob from Haywood county and your sponsor is representative Jose Mclean? Well, welcome and thank you for being with us and hope you enjoy the morning. Staff, Sergeant of Arms staff who really got here very early and set up right away or Garry Moore and D. H. Powell and David Wilkinson apologize we have one bill on the calender today but this is just before, we get into that a notice we've got a more extensive bill that we were at HDSCC complain process and make some technical and none technical changes which we will have to hear and we will try to get that schedule this week. I don't expect to try to fit it in, but maybe monday you'll be seeing a meeting certainly no later than Tuesday. And that one will take us sometime to work our way through because we need to get that on out for next week before cross over. This one I hope won't take a lot of time because I'm a co-sponsor as is Representative Faircloth[sp?], and this is the Ethics Committee, we're going to recuse from being the chair and ask our Vice Chair Carney if she can chair the meeting. Thank you Mr. Chairman I was starting to feel like [xx] been a primary but it's a good thing because Representative [xx] is already here at the primaries and he would have chaired the meeting. But anyway, the bill before us now is house bill 584 use of division letters of reference now representative Glacier is recognized to introduce the bill. Thank you madam Chairman and members this can had up for those who remember when we were doing our education with staff and a second of the house education says the make-up session, this question came up and the issue is, what are we allowed to do as members with respect to letters of recommendation and similar kinds of activities and both of our staff and NCC staff said not clear that  SCC sort of had an internal rules that they were operating with, and our staff didn't have one and this was asked really by vote to sort of settle down the statute and make it clear about what we could ethically do and not do. When you see on the summary it says essentially that we can do three things. We can issue a letter at a character of reference for students seeking admission to schools or institutions supply ahead reference letters to locate we can do that for an individual seeking an academic scholarship or when we do that in respect to individual seeking linency about certain things on matters related probation and porare most of things normally all last to do and then the question which is a little more difficult question came up and against who to following SCC policy and advice staff and then giving for some time we may respond includes of a potential employers to qualifications and character of an individual seeking employment and it really needs to be sort of limited to there response and off the request the act, because of the otherwise nature of ethics rule there are some real question if we were to go out and be delivering a letter of recommendation for a job to someone about whether that gets us into a much greater area so to be saved this sets out what seems very clear and I will be glad to answer any questions from madam chair. Are there any questions from the committee? Representative [xx]  At the appropriate time I'd like to make a motion to table a report. Alright, if you'll hold that amendment, anyone else? Representative of Chaplin Just for clarification on what you just said as a potential employer, is that pertaining just to members we have worked with in our capacity as a legislator for those of us who have another life outside of here tell me about that. Yeah, I mean, my sense is it relates to being after the legislator so if they're asking you as someone they know for other reasons, or from

school or something I don't I think it applies but, I'm going to let [xx] respond, I just so I'm positive about that if you wanted to be giving a reference at [xx] concept that would not be prohibited if you weren't using you [xx] representative [xx] to get the reference just determine the title to be. It's only in this. Only in the response. Follow up? Follow up? Not yet. Not yet, representative Dotery. The question I have I understand that. What if a constituent calls you and says I want you to get DOT for example to clean out my ditch, or take my road, and you call DOT and say, look I want you to try and help my constituents, or if a person comes to you and says our back taxes or I owe something and I need more time, are you allowed to call revenue and say to them of asking for some help for my constituent. There is no limitation on you capacity to ask for constituent help in this bill this is simply referring to the issues of renders and referencing character which could be in basic constituency services. So those services are not [xx] I think calling when your constituent has a problem and getting an of agency to respond to them is pretty much part of our job everyday. Thank you. Representative Ryan. Thank you Madam Chair. I have no names but I have a constituent from my area that her husband was a superintendent one of the schools and he has moved to another state and now she is working with company now she is looking to move to the other State. And she called me about her recommendation. I know her but more of being into politic political arena for her for being a superintendent, power working with one of the major companies, being a politician I was more hands on going to school were meetings and working with company so she asked me for a reference, can I put you down as a reference is that okay? Again I don't think there's any problem with being listed as a reference, I think they will call you as a result of you being listed as a reference, then you may respond to the inquiry and you could even write a letter as Representative Ray if you wanted to. This is just a bar on writing a letter saying, please hire this woman as representative [xxx] and other than that and that's what this is trying to limit, you can certainly be listed as reference and you can certainly respond to letters of inquiry. Follow up. Okay, we have state government as a very large system and we have individuals who would say I have applied for job number so and so to open date with this closing date, can I use you as a reference? not you as an individual but you as representative. It's still my view that you can be listed as a reference and then if the perspective employer seeks questions from you as a result of a reference you can be answering those so unlike that legitimate as well I'm getting a node from staff.  you got follow up. You understand, we have a lot state employees and you don't even have to play or manage to plan for the job because they are a lot of qualified people to do them. This is exactly what is needed. Thank you and follow on representative Bray, what if he wrote a letter on his representative letter head of a character reference to that. Yes I think that's where you getting into the problem Right, that would not be covered under the [xxx] Yes said that for some time. That's where the line is Representative Coplin Just for clarity purposes is road employment, but what about it they're trying and do volunteer work or internship that four letter character even if someone is trying to get internship is not paid but it can a cogrational the internship won't say, where does that go should that be added? The statute currently requires that

there will be some type of advent in private in trends and I don't think that's sale internship will necessarily be a predictor I think there is some kind of monetary kind to that, employment would be working. I think that Internship really falls on letter of character reference through admission to school, institute of higher learning something like that is certainly much more can we didn't think to list everything possible, but I think it much fits there than it does that the employment because of the private interest issue. OK, can I just add one more follow up this is a tough general comment, we hear all the time, you are a legislature 24/7 no matter where you are on this planet you are a legislator and ethic tools are part of you and it sounds like I'm hearing well, you can be the other person and that's the only part that gives me a little bit of, because if we are the legislator all the time, all of the world and all the rules apply to us and then you can say, well you can step away from that and just be who you are I'm just worried about, just concerns and confusion. And that's true in a lot of portions of the ethics rules that need revisiting at some point I think, but I do think that you're right in your premise but the rules do apply 24/7 to the extent that it applies [xx] those aspects of our lives in which we are, we are individuals and if we're lawyers, or business owners, or owners of law firms and so there is another life that we have where we maybe [xx] solely in that capacity. This is getting at where we are being asked to use our position as a legislator in response or to say as representative [xx] is asking for is sending this letter of reference representative Blazer is making this enquiry and that's what this is designed to limit and to let us know there some things we can do and there are some things we can't. Just clarification what I think you stated at the end, so you said that you can not use and I agree in the legislative visionary staff to write a letter of employment does not relating to your job as a legislator. You could write a letter of reference for employment as in your personal capacity but not as a legislator. I have a question of staff, may be a comment first so if and there is reference to letter or reference someone is using your name, it's okay for them to use your name you can tell them they can use your name with the title, but you just can't put it in writing. Is that right? [xx] Okay so you said, this isn't reference to representative Ray's question if someone want to put your name on an application as a reference, I think I heard you say you can do that. [xx] OK you can do that, but in the same case with the same constituent that you let them use your name as the reference, they come back and want a letter, then you cannot use your title in the letter, is that right? Think it depends on who is asking for the letter, because you can respond to an inquiry of a potential employer. So the employer wants a letter from that person, I think that it would be OK under that request but the potential employee itself cannot request that. It's an initiation. I got you, I got that, but my question of maybe to the bill sponsor, in this applications and scholarships, what about extended family like a niece, nephew, your cousins, child, is that OK to use your, I'm just questioning about relationships, personal relationships family wise, that's OK? The facility does not have any constrains [xx] OK [xx] Alright, any other questions or comments? OK we have a motion representative [xx] if you'd like to make that. Excuse me madam Chair I move that house bill 584 receive a favorable report. OK you have the motion all those in favor say

aye aye oppose. Thank you madam Chair. Members this bill will voted as seems to be right to the floor and again we will get to notice to you as soon as possible on the other meeting which should be a little bit longer meeting. Thank you very much and we are adjourned