Committees and commissions are the two primary types of entities tasked with the oversight of legislative ethics. The two terms may be used interchangeably in some circumstances, and they perform a similar function. However, committees and commissions are not the same thing.
The most clearly distinguishable feature is that a “committee” operates as a means of internal regulation of legislators by the legislature, while “commission” serves as an external review process. Committees normally consist of legislators, while legislators do not serve on commissions in most states.
This table describes the distinguishing characteristics of committees and commissions. For additional information, refer to NCSL's other resources on ethics oversight.
This table is intended to provide general information and does not necessarily address all aspects of this topic. Because the facts of each situation may vary, this information may need to be supplemented by consulting legal advisors.