Section 68. (a) There shall be a permanent commission on the status of citizens of Asian descent to consist of 21 persons as follows: 3 persons to be appointed by the governor; 3 persons to be appointed by the speaker of the house of representatives; 3 persons to be appointed by the president of the senate; 3 persons to be appointed by the state treasurer; 3 persons to be appointed by the state secretary; 3 persons to be appointed by the attorney general; and 3 persons appointed by the state auditor. Members of the commission shall be citizens of the commonwealth who have demonstrated a commitment to the Asian-American community. Members shall be subject to chapter 268A as they apply to special state employees.
(b) Members shall serve for terms of 3 years and until their successors are appointed. Vacancies in the membership of the commission shall be filled by the original appointing authority for the balance of the unexpired term. All appointments shall be made in consultation with Asian-American organizations. Nominations for members shall be solicited by the appointing authorities between August 1 and September 16 of each year through an open application process using a uniform application that is widely distributed throughout the state.
(c) The commission shall elect from among its members a chair, a vice chair, a treasurer and any other officers it considers necessary. The members of the commission shall receive no compensation for their services, but shall be reimbursed for any usual and customary expenses incurred in the performance of their duties.
(d) The commission shall be a resource to the commonwealth on issues affecting Asian-American communities. In furtherance of that responsibility, the commission shall:
(1) promote research and be a clearinghouse and source of information on issues pertaining to Asian Americans in the commonwealth;
(2) inform the public and leaders of business, education, human services, health care, state and local governments and the communications media of the unique cultural, social, ethnic, economic and educational issues affecting Asian Americans in the commonwealth;
(3) foster unity among Asian-American communities and organizations in the commonwealth by promoting cooperation and sharing of information and encouraging collaboration and joint activities;
(4) serve as a liaison between government and private interest groups with regard to matters of unique interest and concern to Asian Americans in the commonwealth;
(5) identify opportunities to expand and improve commercial and cultural ties with Asian nations;
(6) identify and recommend qualified Asian Americans for appointive positions at all levels of government, including boards and commissions, as the commission considers necessary and appropriate;
(7) assess programs and practices in all state agencies as they affect Asian Americans, as the commission considers necessary and appropriate;
(8) advise executive and legislative bodies on the potential effect on Asian Americans of proposed legislation, as the commission considers necessary and appropriate; and
(9) generally undertake activities designed to enable the commonwealth to realize the full benefit of the skills, talents and cultural heritage of Asian Americans in the commonwealth.
(e) The commission shall annually, on or before June 2, report the results of its findings and activities of the preceding year and its recommendations to the governor and to the clerks of the senate and house of representatives.
(f) The powers of the commission shall include, but not be limited, to:
(1) to use the voluntary and uncompensated services of private individuals, agencies and organizations that may from time to time be offered and needed, including provision of meeting places and refreshments;
(2) to hold regular, public meetings and to hold fact-finding hearings and other public forums as it considers necessary;
(3) to direct a staff to perform its duties;
(4) to establish and maintain offices that it considers necessary, subject to appropriation;
(5) to enact by-laws for its own governance that are not inconsistent with any general or special law; and
(6) to recommend policies and make recommendations to agencies and officers of the state and local subdivisions of government to effectuate the purposes of subsection (d).
(g) The commission may request from all state agencies whatever information and assistance the commission requires.
(h) The commission may accept and solicit funds, including any gifts, donations, grants, or bequests, or any federal funds for any of the purposes of this section. These funds shall be deposited in a separate account with the state treasurer, be received by the treasurer on behalf of the commonwealth, and be expended by the commission in accordance with law.
(i) The commission staff shall consist of an executive director, employees, and volunteers who assist the commission in effecting its statutory duties. The commission shall appoint the executive director for a term of 3 years.