comm of ky 300FRANKFORT, Ky. (12/4/17) – Today, Reps. Ken Fleming, R-Louisville, and Rep. Kim Moser, R-Taylor Mill, filed a bill to create the Legislative Tip Line to confidentially report wrongdoing within the legislature, including harassment, discrimination, ethical or official misconduct, theft, and fraud. The tip line, created by B.R. 346, would be directly administrated by the Legislative Ethics Commission, which would have authority to investigate complaints against members of the General Assembly, employees of the legislature, legislative agents, and any other person interacting with members of the General Assembly or employees of the legislature.
 
“In the wake of an ongoing investigation of a sexual harassment complaint in the Kentucky Legislature and a groundswell of complaints around the country, the need for a process to report complaints to an independent party is crystal clear,” said Rep. Fleming, who has been a leader on similar efforts in the past, notably during his tenure as a Louisville Metro Councilman.
 
On Friday, a report that was commissioned by the House Republican Caucus was released that detailed procedural improvements concerning human relations practices surrounding the reporting of alleged wrongdoing. The report outlined items to be implemented, which will create some long-term solutions to flaws that currently exist in the process. As a result of the report, House Speaker Pro Tem David Osborne requested a recommendation on legislation before February 15, 2018, with the intent to pass before the legislature adjourns sine die on April 15.
 
“The measures suggested by the firm who issued the report will take necessary steps to improve the reporting process internally, and over the long-haul,” said Rep. Moser. “But the passage of this bill to create the Legislative Tip Line will be an immediate resource for anybody who is pressed to report serious wrongdoing within the legislature. This is a starting point. Rep. Fleming and I anticipate building on this through our work on the Ethics Reform Task Force, which we will be chairing. We must take action swiftly to correct any shortcomings that currently exist in the process.”
 
B.R. 346 would require the Legislative Ethics Commission to ensure the tip line telephone number is available to employees, and accessible 24 hours a day, and seven days a week. Within two hours of receiving a compliant, the executive director of the commission will review the complaint, and will have 24 hours to notify the alleged perpetrator of the complaint and the allegations. Within 30 days of receipt of a complaint and the ensuing investigation, involving interviewing the complainant and perpetrator, the commission’s staff would give a status of the complaint to the commission’s Board and the Director of LRC, including those complaints that were resolved. However, should the commission determine the complaint is not resolved, the commission’s enforcement counsel shall file a complaint under KRS 6.686(1)(a). Should the commission determine a complaint is beyond its jurisdiction, it would be referred to another state or federal agency.
 
Currently, complaints made by employees of the Legislative Research Commission are reported to the same body that investigates, and which reports to legislative leadership officers. As a result, there is no involvement by an independent, third-party with the ability to level disciplinary actions against any party.
 
“This bill is part of a proactive approach to solve a serious issue,” said Fleming. “By implementing a new reporting system, with an independent agency, the process becomes more user-friendly and gives potential victims an avenue to truly address any wrongdoing, with an end goal of stopping any type of harassment culture that might exist in the Kentucky Legislature.” Other public and private organizations use a tip line such as New York State, City of Portland, Louisville Metro Government, Atlanta Public Schools, and many companies.
 
Employees who file complaints via the Legislative Tip Line will be protected from reprisal, including threats and the use of influence to discourage or interfere with any complaint. Annually, the commission will be required to publish a summary of complaints and distribute it to the members of the commission, the director of the commission, each member of the Legislative Research Commission, and the director of the Legislative Research Commission. 

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