Consolidates numerous provisions in GS Chapters 163, 138A and 120C into a new GS Chapter 163A, the State Elections and Ethics Act; makes substantive changes to these laws; and creates a new Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement with jurisdiction over ethics, elections, and lobbying laws. Authority currently vested respectively in the State Ethics Commission, State Board of Elections, and Secretary of State for oversight and enforcement of ethics requirements for state officials, elections, and lobbying is transferred to the new Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement for all provisions within GS Chapters 163, 138A, and 120C that are recodified within the new Chapter 163A. Specific provisions are as follows:
(1) Creates new Chapter 163A titled the “State Elections and Ethics Act” and creates GS 163A-100 setting out the title of the act.
(2) Definitions - GS 163A-101 provides definitions applicable to Chapter 163A by recodifying existing definitions under Chapter 138A (GS 138A-3) and Chapter 120C (GS 129C-100).
(3) Application to Lieutenant Governor – GS 163A-102 clarifies the status of the Lieutenant Governor as either a legislator or a public servant for purposes of Chapter 163A (recodifies GS 138A as GS 163A-102 with no substantive changes).
(4) Application to candidates for certain offices – GS 163A-103 applies certain articles of Chapter 163A to candidates for office of legislator and Council of State.
(5) State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement established – Article 2 of Chapter 163A establishes the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement (GS 163A-200) consisting of 9 members appointed by the Governor and the General Assembly upon recommendation of the Speaker of the House and President Pro Tempore of the Senate, and providing for terms of office, filing of vacancies, and limitations on eligibility to serve (GS 163A-201). Also provides for administrative matters relating to meetings (GS 163A-202) and staff and offices (GS 163A-203). Requires the Board to report to the General Assembly by May 1, 2012, and by February 1, 2013, on any necessary statutory changes.
(6) State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement powers and duties – GS 163A-204 vests the board with the authority to oversee and enforce Chapter 163A governing ethical requirements for persons covered under the act, lobbying, and elections. Imposes duties on the board specific to implementation of and compliance with the Chapter.
(7) Education programs – GS 163A-208 requires the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement to develop and implement an ethics and lobbying education awareness program; offer mandatory ethics and lobbying education to public servants and, jointly with the Legislative Ethics Committee, to legislators and legislative employees; make ethics education programs available to lobbyists and lobbyist principals; provide general information about ethics and lobbying laws, including advisory opinions issued by the board; provide specific training to county boards of elections for voter registration; and provide elections training for county boards of elections, county directors of elections, chief judges, and judges.
(8) Requests for Advice – GS 163A-209 authorizes the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement to render advice on specific questions involving the meaning and application of Chapter 163A to various officials, candidates, organizations, and individuals requesting advisory opinions on ethics, lobbying, or elections laws; keeps confidential requests for advice and any information associated with the request.
(9) Enforcement – GS 163A-210 makes violations of ethical standards and economic interest disclosure requirements by persons subject to those requirements grounds for disciplinary action or subject to removal from office or sanctions depending on the office. Makes violations of lobbyist and lobbyist principals reporting and registration requirements and prohibitions and restrictions a Class 1 misdemeanor. Authorizes the board to levy civil fines of up to $5,000 per violation. Retains existing penalties for violations of election and campaign finance laws.
(10) Powers of the Chair – GS 163A-212 vests certain powers to the chair of the board in order to carry out the board’s duties and responsibilities.
(11) Executive Director – 163A-215 creates the position of Executive Director of the State Board to be appointed by the board and responsible for staffing and administration.
Modifications to GS Chapter 120 governing lobbying:
(1) Registration requirements for lobbyists and lobbyist principals – retains these requirements by recodifying Article 2 of Chapter 120C as Article 3 of Chapter 163A.
(2) Prohibitions and restrictions on lobbyists and lobbyist principals – retains these prohibitions and restrictions by recodifying Article 3 of Chapter 120C as Article 4 of Chapter 163A.
(3) Reporting requirements for lobbyists, lobbyist principals, and solicitors – retains these requirements by recodifying Article 4 of Chapter 120C as Article 5 of Chapter 163A.
(4) State agency and local government liaison personnel – retains provisions governing these personnel by recodifying Article 5 of Chapter 120C as Article 6 of Chapter 163A.
(5) Exemptions to lobbying laws – retains these exemptions by recodifying Article 7 of Chapter 120C as Article 7 of Chapter 163A.
(6) Reporting certain additional expenditures for lobbying – retains these requirements by recodifying Article 8 of Chapter 120C as Article 8 of Chapter 163A.
(7) General provisions, and violations and enforcement - repeals Article 1 (general provisions) and Article 6 (violations and enforcement) of Chapter 120C; provisions relating to violations and enforcement detailed in the new Chapter 163A.
Modifications to GS Chapter 138A, the State Government Ethics Act:
(1) General provisions – repeals Article 1 of Chapter 138A.
(2) State Ethics Commission abolished – repeals various sections of Article 2 of Chapter 138A that establish the State Ethics Commission (GS 138A-6, -7), authorize its powers and duties (GS 138A-10), provide for requests for advice to the Commission (GS 138A-13), require the Commission to provide ethics education (GS 138A-14), and relate to administrative matters such as meetings (GS 138A-8) and staff (GS 138A-9).
(3) Publication of names of covered persons and boards – retains this requirement by recodifying GS 138A-11 as GS 163A-205.
(4) Inquiries and investigations into alleged violations – retains this provision by recodifying GS 138A-12 as GS 206.
(5) Duties of heads of state agencies to ensure compliance with ethics laws – retains this requirement by recodifying GS 138A-15 as GS 163A-12.
(6) Public disclosure of economic interests – retains these requirements by recodifying Article 3 of Chapter 138A as Article 9 of Chapter 163A.
(7) Ethical standards for persons covered under the State Government Ethics Act – retains these requirements by recodifying Article 4 of Chapter 138A as Article 10 of Chapter 163A.
(8) Violations – repeals Article 5 of Chapter 138A (violations); provisions related to violations are detailed in the new Chapter 163A.
Modifications to GS Chapter 163, Election Laws:
(1) State Board of Elections abolished – repeals various sections of Article 3 of Chapter 163 that establish the State Board of Elections (GS 163-19), authorize the Board of Election’s powers and duties and those of its Chairman (GS 163-22, -23), and relate to administrative matters (GS 163-20, -21, -28) and staff (GS 163-23, -27). Transfers to the new Board of Ethics and Elections Enforcement (a) the responsibility to provide notification on littering restrictions by recodifying GS 163-22.3 as GS 163A-211; (b) the power to maintain order during its proceedings by recodifying GS 163-24 as GS 163A-213; (c) the authority to assist in litigation by recodifying GS 163-25 as GS 163A-214; and (d) emergency powers by recodifying GS 163-27.1 as GS 163A-216.
(2) Remaining provisions of Chapter 163 - all remaining articles within GS Chapter 163 governing timing of primaries and elections, county boards of elections, precinct election officials, voter qualifications and registration, elections administration, political parties, voting and balloting, campaign finance, the North Carolina Public Campaign Fund, electioneering, municipal elections, and judicial elections are all retained and recodified as articles within GS Chapter 163A.
Effective July 1, 2011.
Status: Ref To Com On Judiciary I (Senate Action) (Apr 20 2011)
Bill S 772 (2011-2012)Summary date: Apr 20 2011 - View Summary