2007 Regular Session
To: Judiciary A
By: Representative Mayo
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 25-4-17, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO DELETE THE DUTY OF THE MISSISSIPPI ETHICS COMMISSION TO REQUIRE A PERSON SEEKING TO EXAMINE PUBLIC STATEMENTS OF ECONOMIC INTEREST TO PROVIDE CERTAIN IDENTIFYING INFORMATION; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 25-4-17, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
25-4-17. The commission shall, in addition to any other duties prescribed by law:
(a) Prepare and publish a manual setting forth recommended uniform methods of accounting and reporting for use by persons required to file statements of economic interest pursuant to the provisions of this chapter;
(b) Prescribe forms for statements of economic interest required to be filed pursuant to this chapter and furnish such forms to persons required to file such statements of economic interest pursuant to this chapter;
(c) Accept and file any statements or information voluntarily supplied by persons required to file statements of economic interest under this chapter that exceeds the requirements of this chapter;
(d) Develop and maintain a filing, coding and cross-indexing system of statements of economic interest, complaints, responses and other actions undertaken by the commission pursuant to this chapter;
(e) Make statements of economic interest which are required to be filed by this chapter available for public inspection and copying during regular business hours and make copying facilities available at a reasonable charge to defray the cost of copying; * * *
(f) Preserve such statements of economic interest for a period of seven (7) years from the date of their receipt;
(g) Establish such rules and regulations which shall insure and maintain the confidentiality and integrity of the commission, its proceedings, investigations and findings, it being the intent of this chapter to promote high standards of competence and conduct by the commission and its staff, and to insure that all matters designated as confidential shall remain confidential; provided, however, that nothing in this chapter shall be construed to prohibit the commission, in its discretion, from releasing information to the public relating to its findings, proceedings, or investigations, or from holding open meetings on nonconfidential matters;
(h) Study the body of Mississippi criminal law pertaining to public officials and report its findings and recommendations in summary form to the 1983 Regular Session of the Legislature and each regular session of the Legislature thereafter if appropriate;
(i) Have the authority, in its discretion, to issue advisory opinions with regard to any of such standards of conduct set forth in Article 3, Chapter 4, Title 25, Mississippi Code of 1972. When any public official requests in writing such an advisory opinion and has stated all the facts to govern such opinion, and the commission has prepared and delivered such opinion with references thereto, there shall be no civil or criminal liability accruing to or against any such public official who, in good faith, follows the direction of such opinion and acts in accordance therewith unless a court of competent jurisdiction, after a full hearing, shall judicially declare that such opinion is manifestly wrong and without any substantial support. No opinion shall be given or considered if said opinion would be given after judicial proceedings are commenced.
All advisory opinions issued pursuant to the provisions of this paragraph shall be made public and shall be issued within ninety (90) days of written request. The request for an advisory opinion shall be confidential as to the identity of the individual making the request. The commission shall, so far as practicable and before making public, an advisory opinion issued under the provisions of this paragraph, make such deletions and changes thereto as may be necessary to ensure the anonymity of the public official and any other person named in the opinion; and
(j) Within ninety (90) days, issue advisory opinions, upon written request by any individual required to file a statement of economic interest under the provisions of Section 25-4-25, pertaining to the content of the statement of economic interest which such individual is required to file under the provisions of Section 25-4-27. When such an advisory opinion is issued pursuant to a complete and accurate request, then there shall be no liability, civil or criminal, accruing to or against the individual requesting such opinion who, in good faith, follows the direction of the opinion and makes disclosure in accordance therewith unless a court of competent jurisdiction, after a full hearing, shall judicially declare that such opinion is manifestly wrong and without substantial support. No opinion shall be given or considered if such opinion is given after suit is filed or prosecution begun. All requests for advisory opinions and all advisory opinions issued pursuant to the provisions of this paragraph shall be confidential and the commission shall not publicly disclose any advisory opinion issued or the fact that an advisory opinion has been requested or issued unless the individual requesting the opinion gives his permission, in writing, to the commission.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2007.