Ethics: Advisory Opinion 2004-7

Advisory Opinion 2004-7
Advisory Opinion 2004-7

Application Of Public Act No. 04-38

On May 4, 2004, the Governor signed P.A. No. 04-38, AN ACT MAKING CERTAIN REFORMS UNDER THE STATE CODES OF ETHICS.  The Act, effective July 1, 2004:  extends the Ethics Code’s statutes of limitation from three to five years; increases the State Ethics Commission’s civil penalty authority from $2,000 to $10,000 per violation; makes criminal violations of the Codes a Class D felony; and extends the time for voiding illegal contracts from 90 to 180 days.

The Commission has been asked by various parties whether, and if so which of, the provisions in the Act are retrospective in their application?  The Act is silent on this issue. 

Under such circumstances, the rules of statutory construction, as codified by the General Assembly, allow for the consideration of extratextual evidence.  See, P.A. No. 03-154.  When examining questions of retrospective application of a  statute, traditional analysis involves determining whether a provision is procedural or substantive.  In general, the Courts have applied procedural provisions retroactively; while treating substantive provisions as prospective.  See, Coley v. Camden Associates, 243 Conn. 311 (1997) and Miano v Thorne, 218 Conn. 170, 175 (1991).

In this instance, however, a procedural/substantive analysis is unnecessary, because the unambiguous legislative history preempts all other considerations.  Specifically, in the debate on this legislation in the House of Representatives, on April 21, 2004 , the House Chairman of the GAE Committee, James O’Rourke, was asked whether the provisions in the Bill were intended to apply on a prospective basis only.  Chairman O’Rourke answered in the unequivocal affirmative.  This response reflected both the intent of the General Assembly and the understanding of the Commission, which had agreed to such a prospective application as part of the process of passage of the Act.  As a consequence, all provisions of P.A. No. 04-38 will be applied prospectively commencing July 1, 2004.

 By order of the Commission,

Rosemary Giuliano

Content Last Modified on 9/7/2005 8:05:19 AM