Section 2 of the bill prohibits a person from serving on the public utilities commission if he or she:
- Has, within the immediately preceding 4 years, served as an officer or director of a regulated utility; or
- Has or acquires any official relation to, or financial interest in, a regulated utility.
Section 3 encourages the director of the commission to assign employees to temporary training and development sessions with other state agencies, particularly those with which the commission has frequent interaction, to improve the employees' substantive expertise and familiarity with the operations of those agencies. Section 3 also requires the director to keep written and audio records of the commission's proceedings and make them publicly available online.
In addition, section 3 expressly authorizes the executive director of the department of regulatory agencies (of which the commission is a part) to request that the state auditor conduct performance audits of the commission and its staff and operations.
Section 4 creates the position of independent ombudsman for ethics to:
- Receive complaints and comments about the commission's performance of its duties;
- Create, maintain, and administer a continuing program of ethics training for commissioners and staff; and
- Annually report to the executive director and the general assembly concerning the number, character, and disposition of complaints the ombudsman received during the preceding year.
Section 6 funds the office of the ombudsman using an existing cash fund, the fixed utility fund. Section 7 directs the commission to adopt rules concerning conflicts of interest, incompatible activities, and ex parte communications, which rules form the basis of the ombudsman's ethics training curriculum.
Sections 1 and 5 make conforming amendments.
(Note: This summary applies to this bill as introduced.)