The Tennessee General Assembly passed the "Comprehensive Governmental Ethics Reform Act of 2006" in February of 2006, which is codified in T.C.A. § 8-17-101 et seq. Among other requirements, the Ethics Reform Act requires local governments to adopt ethical standards related to the acceptance of gifts and disclosure of conflicts of interest, and directed the University of Tennessee County Technical Assistance Service (CTAS) to develop a model policy. On January 22, 2007, the Knox County Commission adopted a modified version of the CTAS Model Ethics Policy as the Knox County, Tennessee Code of Ethics. The policy was filed with the Tennessee Ethics Commission by letter of the Knox County Clerk of February 7, 2007. The policy has been subsequently amended, the most recent amendment being adopted on August 27, 2018. The current Knox County, Tennessee Code of Ethics (Policy) is available on this website.
The Comprehensive Governmental Ethics Reform Act of 2006
– Important Points:
- Local ethics policies must be adopted by the county legislative body in each county by June 30, 2007.
- The policies are required to cover two things: (1) disclosure and/or limits on gifts and (2)disclosure of conflict of interests.
- The policies cannot include personnel, employment, or operational regulations of local government offices.
- The policies apply broadly to all officials and employees in all offices, agencies, and departments of the county and to the members, officers, and employees of all boards, commissions, authorities, corporations, or other instrumentalities of a county. Initially, school boards and school employees were subject to the same ethics policy as all other Knox County employees. The state law was amended to allow schools to adopt their own ethics policy, and the Knox County Board of Education has adopted the model ethics policy promulgated by the Tennessee School Board Association.
- CTAS is required to draft and distribute a model policy to counties to provide guidance and direction. The county may choose to adopt the model or draft standards of its own.
- The policies are filed with the State Ethics Commission. If the county adopts the CTAS model policy, then, instead of filing the policy, the county simply notifies the State Ethics Commission in writing that the county adopted the CTAS model policy.
- Enforcement remains as provided under current law.
- A failure or refusal to adopt standards by a local governing body by the deadline subjects its members to ouster.