TEXAS ETHICS COMMISSION RULES
Chapter 6. ORGANIZATION AND ADMINISTRATION
Subchapter A. GENERAL RULES
Subchapter A. GENERAL RULES
The following words and terms, when used in this part, shall have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise.
(1) Act--The Government Code, Chapter 571 (concerning Texas Ethics Commission).
(2) Administrative Procedure Act--The Government Code, Chapter 2001 (concerning Administrative Procedure).
(3) Agency--The state agency governed by the commission, as it functions and operates through the administrative staff hired by the commission and its executive director.
(4) Commission--The Texas Ethics Commission, as constituted and described in the Texas Constitution, Article 3, § 24a.
(5) Document--A report, complaint, response, letter, or any other written material.
(6) Executive director--The person employed by the commission to serve as the agency's chief administrative officer, or any other employee of the commission acting as the designee of the executive director.
(7) Family member or relative--An individual who is related within the second degree of affinity or consanguinity, as defined by the Government Code, Chapter 573, Subchapter B (concerning Relationships by Consanguinity or by Affinity).
(8) Filer--A person required to file a report with the commission or a local filing authority in accordance with this title.
(9) Individual--A human being who has been born and is alive.
(10) Local filing authority--A public servant other than the Texas Ethics Commission with whom a filer must file a report in accordance with this title, as identified in § 20.5 of this title (relating to Reports Filed with a County Filing Authority) and § 20.7 of this title (relating to Reports Filed with Other Local Filing Authority).
(11) Open Meetings Law--The Government Code, Chapter 551 (concerning Open Meetings).
(12) Open Records Law--The Government Code, Chapter 552 (concerning Open Records).
(13) Person--An individual, representative, corporation, association, or other entity, including any nonprofit corporation, or any agency or instrumentality of federal, state, or local government.
(14) Postmark--A postal cancellation by the United States Postal Service that contains the post office name, state, and zip code and the month, day, and year the canceling post office accepted custody of the material.
(15) Presiding officer--The person elected to serve as the commission's chairman or chairwoman under § 6.21 of this title (relating to Officers of the Commission).
(16) Report--Any document or other information required to be filed under this title.
(17) Staff--Employees of the commission, hired by the commission or the executive director.
(18) Title 15--The Election Code, Title 15 (concerning Regulating Political Funds and Campaigns).
(19) First responder--An individual who is:
(A) a peace officer whose duties include responding rapidly to an emergency;
(B) fire protection personnel, as that term is defined by Section 419.021, Government Code;
(C) a volunteer firefighter who performs firefighting duties on behalf of a political subdivision;
(D) an ambulance driver; or
(E) an individual certified as emergency medical services personnel by the Department of State Health Services.
(a) This title is adopted for the following purposes:
(1) to establish and explain the practice and procedures followed by the commission and its employees performing its duties under the law; and
(2) to provide specific guidance necessary to encourage and ensure full compliance with all laws administered and enforced by the commission.
(b) A person's obligation to comply with a requirement or prohibition established by statute exists even if this title is silent concerning a statutory requirement.
(c) This title shall always be construed in a manner consistent with all applicable constitutional and statutory requirements.
(a) This title is adopted under the authority granted by the Act, the Administrative Procedure Act, and by any other law administered and enforced by the commission that establishes the commission's authority to adopt rules.
(b) The commission will not adopt a rule that in the opinion of the commission, directly addresses the subject matter of pending litigation known to the commission.
(c) For purposes of this section, the term litigation includes a sworn complaint proceeding before the commission only if the Government Code Subchapters C-H, Chapter 2001, apply to the proceeding.
(a) The following actions require the affirmative vote of no less than six members of the commission:
(1) to adopt a rule to administer any law administered and enforced by the commission;
(2) to render any decision on a complaint or a report of a violation as provided by the Government Code, Chapter 571 (concerning Texas Ethics Commission), other than a final decision after a formal hearing that a violation has not occurred, which requires only five votes;
(3) to prohibit participation by a member of the commission in commission proceedings relating to the investigation, complaint, or motion;
(4) without a sworn complaint, to initiate a preliminary review of an alleged violation of a law administered or enforced by the commission;
(5) to subpoena and examine witnesses and documents that directly relate to a sworn complaint and issue a written request to a peace officer to serve a subpoena of the commission in the manner prescribed for service of a district court subpoena;
(6) to order and perform a complete audit at an informal or formal hearing of a sworn complaint or commission-initiated complaint; and
(7) to initiate civil enforcement actions and refer matters to the appropriate prosecuting attorney for criminal prosecution.
(b) Any action not listed in subsection (a) of this section that requires a vote of the commission requires the affirmative vote of no less than five members of the commission.
(a) This section states how to compute a period of time prescribed or allowed by this title, by any order of the agency, or by any applicable statute. The day of the act, event, or default after which the designated period of time begins to run is not included. The last day of the period is included. However, if the last day of the time period would be a Saturday, a Sunday, or a legal holiday, the period is extended until the next day that is not a Saturday, a Sunday, or a legal holiday. A legal holiday, for purposes of this section, is any day other than a Saturday or Sunday that the agency is closed for a holiday established by state law.
(b) A time period described by statute or this title to be a certain number of business days is calculated under subsection (a) of this section without including any Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday within that time period.
(c) A document required to be filed or served by a deadline established by statute or this title is filed or served when it is actually received. A document may be deemed to be filed or served when it is deposited with the United States Postal Service, properly addressed to the recipient, with all postage prepaid. The date of the postmark on the envelope for the document is presumed to be the date the document was deposited with the United States Postal Service.
(d) A document filed or served by delivery to the United States Postal Service is presumed to have been filed before 5:00 p.m. on the date indicated by the postmark.
Subchapter B. OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES OF THE COMMISSION
(a) The commission shall select a presiding officer and a vice-presiding officer.
(b) Commission officers are elected annually by majority vote of the commission. The election shall take place at the first commission meeting scheduled after November 19 of each year. Each officer shall serve until his or her successor is selected.
(c) The presiding officer shall preside at all meetings of the commission. While presiding, the presiding officer shall direct the order of the meeting, appoint subcommittees and persons to chair subcommittees, recognize persons to be heard at hearings, set reasonable and necessary time limits for speakers, and take other actions to clarify issues and preserve order. When the presiding officer is absent, the vice-presiding officer shall perform all duties of the presiding officer.
(a) The executive director is the chief administrative officer of the agency. The executive director shall attend commission meetings at the pleasure of the commission and serve as liaison between the commission and the public.
(b) The commission delegates to the executive director all powers conferred on the commission by the Act or other law, except for any power that requires a vote of the commission. Any action taken by the executive director shall conform with all applicable law, including this title and other policies that may be adopted from time to time by the commission.
(c) The executive director shall attend commission meetings unless specifically excused by the commission and shall perform any duties or assignments established by the commission.
(d) The general counsel shall attend commission meetings unless specifically excused by the commission, shall provide legal advice to the commission and executive director, and shall perform any duties delegated by the executive director.
(a) The commission by resolution may establish one or more committees to obtain the viewpoints and advice of interested persons with respect to any contemplated rulemaking. The membership or method of appointment of members to a committee established under this section shall be specified in the resolution that creates the committee. A committee created under this section is advisory only.
(b) In addition to committees established under subsection (a) of this section, with the consent of other members of the commission the presiding officer may from time to time establish and appoint commission members and others to a special committee to exercise advisory duties specified by the presiding officer.
Subchapter C. COMMISSION MEETINGS
Five commissioners must be present as a quorum to hold a commission meeting.
The commission shall meet at least once a quarter at the call of the presiding officer.
The executive director shall give notice to each commissioner of the date and time of each meeting. Notice under this section shall be provided a reasonable amount of time in advance of the meeting, and may be by telephone, fax, or mail.
(a) Except as provided by subsection (b) of this section, each meeting of the commission shall be conducted in accordance with the Open Meetings Law.
(b) A commission meeting limited to consideration and action on matters relating to sworn complaints is not subject to the Open Meetings Law.
(a) The agenda shall consist of agenda items proposed by the executive director prior to the meetings for which the agenda is specified. At a reasonable time before filing a copy of the agenda as required by the Open Meetings Law, the executive director shall provide a copy of the proposed agenda to the presiding officer. If the presiding officer is not reasonably available, the executive director shall provide a copy of the proposed agenda to the vice-presiding officer. If the vice-presiding officer is not reasonably available, the executive director shall provide a copy of the proposed agenda to any two commissioners.
(b) The presiding officer, a commission member with the consent of the presiding officer, or any two commissioners may direct the executive director to include an item on the agenda if it complies with the posting requirements specified by law. The presiding officer may direct the executive director to remove an item included on a proposed agenda unless that item is requested by two commission members other than the presiding officer.
(c) A member of the public may ask the executive director to place an item on a proposed agenda. The executive director shall advise the commission of the request and may include the item on a proposed agenda.
(a) A public hearing on an agenda item shall be conducted when required by law or requested by a commissioner.
(b) The executive director shall prepare and maintain a plan for providing special assistance (including without limitation translation of the English language) to persons who request such assistance for the purpose of attending, observing, or participating in a commission meeting.
(a) The executive director shall prescribe a speaker registration form. Each person who wishes to speak at a commission meeting shall provide the following information:
(1) the speaker's name;
(2) the person or entity the speaker represents, if any;
(3) the agenda item the speaker wishes to address; and
(4) his or her mailing address and telephone number.
(b) Any person who addresses the commission shall state his or her name and the name of the person or entity the speaker represents, if any, for purposes of the tape recording under § 6.47 of this title (relating to Tape Recording of Meeting; Minutes).
(a) The presiding officer shall preside at all meetings of the commission. The presiding officer shall direct the order of the meeting in accordance with its agenda, recognize persons to be heard, set reasonable and necessary time limits for speakers, maintain and enforce appropriate standards of conduct, and take any other action necessary in his or her discretion to clarify issues and preserve order. When the presiding officer is absent, the vice-presiding officer shall perform all duties under this subsection.
(b) Commission meetings shall be conducted in accordance with rules and procedures set forth in the most recently published edition of Robert's Rules of Order.
(c) With unanimous consent of all commissioners present, any provision or requirement of this section may be waived.
(d) No action of the commission that otherwise complies with law shall be void or invalid because the action was taken in violation of a rule or procedure established by this section.
(a) All meetings of the commission shall be tape recorded. The tape recording shall be the official record of actions taken at the meeting.
(b) The presiding officer shall announce the names of each commissioner who makes or seconds a motion to be voted upon by the commission. After the vote has been taken, the presiding officer shall announce the vote in a manner that identifies how each commissioner voted, if a commissioner abstained, or if a commissioner was not present for the vote.
(c) The executive director shall prepare minutes after each meeting that reflect all commission votes and other actions taken during the meeting. The minutes shall be approved by vote of the commission at a subsequent commission meeting.
Subchapter D. RULEMAKING PROCEDURES
(a) Written comments on a proposed rule received at the agency office shall be reviewed by the executive director and made available to each member of the commission before final action to adopt the rule.
(b) Oral or written comments on a proposed rule may also be offered at the public hearing required by § 6.63 of this title (relating to Public Hearings on Proposed Rules).
The commission will hold a public hearing on each proposed rule before it takes final action to adopt the rule. Unless otherwise scheduled, the public hearing will be held immediately before the commission votes on the proposed rule.
(a) Any fee or charge payable to the agency shall be paid in advance, unless satisfactory arrangements for subsequent payment are approved by the executive director.
(b) Money paid by actual mistake or in excess, such as a payment not required by law, may be refunded. A mere change of purpose after the payment of money, as when a party desires to withdraw a filing, will not entitle a party to a refund.
The charge for providing copies of documents shall be in accordance with rules established by the General Services Commission or other applicable law.
The executive director may waive or reduce a charge established by this subchapter when, in his or her discretion, a waiver or reduction of the fee is in the public interest because furnishing the information primarily benefits the general public.