House Bill 1243 won final passage on Friday after clearing the House and Senate. The revised ethics law will be put up for a public vote in November if Gov. Brian Kemp signs it or allows it to become law without his signature.
“We expect the bill will be signed by the governor and we hope the voters of DeKalb will pass it in November. In our opinion the legislation does not materially weaken the work of the Board of Ethics or the Ethics Officer,” the DeKalb Citizens Advocacy Council said in a statement Monday.
The group said it will closely monitor how the state lawmakers make their appointments to the board, pushing for a “publicly transparent process.”
DeKalb's ethics board has been unable to take formal action since 2018, when the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that the use of private organizations to appoint some members of the seven-person board is unconstitutional. The new bill addresses that issue by placing three appointments each in the hands of DeKalb's state House and Senate delegations. The seventh appointment is decided by the county tax commissioner.
DeKalb’s Clerk of Superior Court would also appoint two alternate ethics board members, who would serve in the case of vacancies or conflicts of interest.
The bill would also create a new “ethics administrator” position. That person would be responsible for collecting and documenting all complaints before passing them along to the ethics board. The board would then decide if complaints merited a full-fledged investigation. If so, such complaints would be handed over to the ethics officer.
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