FPPC Amends Regulations for Conflict of Interest Codes

The Political Reform Act requires all government agencies to adopt and circulate a Conflict of Interest Code showing which positions in the agency involve participation in governmental decision-making. It also must identify which of those employees are required to file statements of economic interests and specify the types that must be disclosed and the circumstances under which they must disqualify themselves from participating in governmental decisions.

Currently, the California Fair Political Practices Commission’s regulations for adopting and amending Conflict of Interest Codes are found in regulations 18750 and 18750.2 (governing state agencies), regulation 18750.1 (governing local government agencies with jurisdiction in more than one county) and regulation 18752 (governing making of nonsubstantive amendments to Conflict of Interest Codes).

At its April 21 meeting, the FPPC voted to repeal these four regulations and to readopt a single regulation: regulation 18950. This regulation will address all aspects of the processes and procedures for the adoption and amendment of conflict of interest codes for state and multi-county agencies subject to the FPPC’s approval. This measure was taken to consolidate the existing regulations into a single regulation, streamline the rules, and clearly describe the required processes. Through this amendment, the FPPC is also encouraging these agencies to seek preliminary review of proposed codes and code amendments.

This preliminary review by the FPPC is the major new feature introduced in the amended regulation. It provides that any state or multi-county agency proposing a code or code amendment should, but is not required to, seek the preliminary review of the draft by FPPC staff prior to preparing notice of the proposed code or code amendment. During preliminary review, FPPC staff can assist the agency in identifying designated positions, tailoring disclosure categories and answering questions regarding the agency’s notice. Preliminary review may expedite FPPC’s final approval and allows the FPPC to notice its consideration of the code or code amendment simultaneously with the agency’s notice. This preliminary review process promises to streamline the adoption/amendment process by single tracking the agency and Commission approval process.

Affected agencies (multi-county) can take advantage of the new process by initiating the basic processing through the FPPC to seek approval at the same time that the agency sets in motion its own process for notice and public meeting.

The newly amended regulation should take effect 30 days after the FPPC publishes it with the Office of Administrative Law. These regulatory changes are under review by the Office of Administrative Law with a May 26 deadline for the changes to be effective.

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