January Session, 2009
LCO No. 8227
SEN. MCKINNEY, 28th Dist.
SEN. FASANO, 34th Dist.
SEN. RORABACK, 30th Dist.
"AN ACT CONCERNING THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE SUSTINET PLAN. "
After the last section, add the following and renumber sections and internal references accordingly:
"Sec. 501. (NEW) (Effective from passage) (a) In addition to its inherent power as a branch of the legislature, the Connecticut state Senate has the constitutional authority under the Connecticut State Constitution, Article III, Section 13, to punish members for disorderly conduct, and, with the consent of two-thirds of its members, expel a member. While the constitution does not specify the grounds for expulsion or other disciplinary action, such grounds may include conduct that impugns the integrity of the Senate, reflects adversely on the Senate or otherwise undermines public confidence in the institution of the Senate. Although the constitutional power to discipline members may be exercised summarily, it is the sentiment of the Senate that disciplinary action should ordinarily be imposed only after a full investigation and opportunity for a hearing. For the public to have confidence in the Senate, it must have confidence in its members as well as its procedures and institutional mechanisms. The public interest, the interests of accused members and the interests of the Senate as an institution require that the extraordinary power to expel or publicly discipline a member be exercised in a fair and consistent manner.
(b) There is established a Bipartisan Senate Committee on Standards of Official Conduct that shall consist of six members, appointed as follows: Three majority caucus senators by the president pro tempore of the Senate, and three minority caucus senators by the president pro tempore upon the recommendation of the Senate minority leader. The president pro tempore shall appoint two cochairpersons of the committee, one of whom shall be appointed upon the recommendation of the Senate minority leader. Such appointments shall be made not later than ten days after the effective date of this section.
(c) Said committee shall have cognizance of any official Senate action in response to any misconduct by any member of the Senate. "Misconduct" shall include any violation of state or federal election laws, any violation of the state code of ethics, including the intentional filing of a statement of financial interests that is false or misleading, any misuse of state property including the submission of a false claim for compensation or reimbursement, any legal or ethical wrong or other conduct that materially impairs the ability of the member to perform the duties of his or her office, or any conduct that impugns the integrity of the Senate or undermines public trust and confidence in the Senate. Nothing in this rule shall be construed to affect the powers and duties of the Office of State Ethics or the Citizen's Ethics Advisory Board.
(d) A quorum, consisting of not less than two members of each caucus, shall be required to conduct any official business of the committee. All committee decisions shall require four affirmative votes.
(e) Upon the complaint of any person, signed under penalty of false statement, or upon its own complaint, the committee shall conduct a preliminary investigation into claims of any misconduct by any member of the Senate. Any committee member who is the subject of such a complaint shall recuse himself or herself from any committee action pertaining to such complaint. Such member shall be replaced, for purposes of committee action on such complaint, in the same manner in which such member was appointed.
(f) Any such preliminary investigation shall be confidential and not subject to disclosure. Upon the conclusion of any preliminary investigation, the committee shall vote to either (1) dismiss the complaint, or (2) make a finding of probable cause that misconduct has occurred. Upon a finding of probable cause by the committee, all information relating to the preliminary investigation shall, to the extent allowed by state and federal law, be made available to the public.
(g) The committee shall undertake a full investigation only after a finding of probable cause. All information relating to a full investigation shall, to the extent allowed by state and federal law, be made available to the public. All proceedings relating to a full investigation shall be open to the public. Upon the completion of a full investigation, the committee shall report its findings and recommendation in the form of a resolution to be voted upon by the Senate. Such recommendation shall include one of the following: (1) Expulsion, (2) censure, (3) reprimand, or (4) no action. The full Senate shall vote on any such resolution not later than ten days after the committee reports out any such resolution.
(h) The subject of any such complaint or investigation may be represented by counsel.
(i) Not later than ninety days after the effective date of this section, the committee shall adopt rules and procedures to govern its proceedings. Such proposed rules shall include, but not be limited to: (1) Standards, rules and methodology for conducting preliminary and full investigations, respectively, and (2) criteria for the making of a recommendation of expulsion, censure, reprimand and no action, respectively. "