A bill giving the Louisville Metro Ethics Commission subpoena powers sailed through a state House committee on Monday.
In 2011, a report by the commission complained to the Metro Council about its inability to compel witnesses to testify. Last November, Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin, D-2, put that lack of power on display when she twice walked out of her ethics hearing at the instruction of her attorney.
Sen. Julie Denton, R-Louisville, said the bill was in response to alleged ethics violations of council members in Louisville.
SB 117 would give ethics committees administrative subpoena power to gather documents and compel witnesses to testify.
During a council committee meeting last month, council Democrats torpedoed a resolution asking the General Assembly to pass the legislation.
Those opposed to the non-binding measure said they were worried state lawmakers could give the ethics commission too much power. But council Republicans argued the lack of subpoena powers is a serious challenge in enforcing the city’s code of ethics.
The measure was unanimously approved by the Local Government Committee, and now goes to the full House. It passed the state Senate by a 35-to-1 vote last month.