September 28, 2016 RESTORE LOUISIANA TASK FORCE MINUTES REVIEW OF ETHICS AND OPEN MEETINGS LAWS
REVIEW OF ETHICS AND OPEN MEETINGS LAWS
- Kathleen Allen, Ethics Administrator for Louisiana Board of Ethics
- Dan Rees, Deputy Executive Counsel for Division of Administration
Ms. Allen started by stating she would be giving a quick 5 minute overview of the code of governmental ethics. She did take note that most of the members of the task force may have already received the proper training in the past due to their public service. But now that you are part of this important task force you are also a public servant in a different capacity so I’m asked here as a reminder that those provisions of the ethics code would apply to you as members of this task force. If you are an elected official that may be a different standard now that you are an appointed member of this body here. So if there are in questions our office is available to help you along with this. I discussed with Erin that there is in fact a training that is available, but if you have not received that training this year and you are currently a public servant you can go ahead and take that online or we can discuss at a future meeting if there are any questions on how it may affect you. The governmental code of ethics is a conflict of interest statute. Its goal and purpose is to prevent conflicts of interest in your public capacity or public service and your private capacity in some way. There are restrictions with immediate family members that may come into play. We have a lot of information on our website. So if there is ever a question that you may have or you see coming in the future, again you can contact our office but it is usually going to involve your service on this task force and if there are any actions between you, your family members, your businesses you may have or have an interest in that are going to interact with this task force those may be the red flags that trigger maybe I need to ask a question, we are certainly here and there to help if you have any of those types of questions we can do what we can informally and formally we can offer advice as the Board of Ethics.
Mr. Rees offered a very brief review of Open Meetings Laws. Most of the task force members are already aware of the open meetings laws because of your service in the public sector. At the outset we do not have any governance rules set yet, what we need to simply worry about is that once there is a quorum of the individuals on the task force, which is a majority, that any discussion about your mission is subject to the open meetings law, which means we need to have at least 24 hour public notice. Public participation is allowed, public comment is allowed. The staff will be working with you all on gathering agenda items, on posting the agenda items, but please be aware that if there is something that you would like to have addressed at the meetings it does need to be on the agenda. Once we establish future governance rules, as far as if the chairs and co-chairs choose to have by-laws and what not, that are spelling out operations and such, then we will know what open meetings laws are applicable. At this point I am trying to figure of if there will be a need for executive sessions, which is an exception to the open meetings law, but that would be something to be addressed in the future, based on the nature of the task force, I’m not certain if that is something you would need to be worried about.
Mr. Rees added an additional item, which is akin to the open meetings law, the Public Records Law. Most of you all know about this law being in the public sector. We do believe that the public records law will apply to the operations of the task force so we want each of you to be aware that the records generated with your work are subject, upon request, to public disclosure.