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Bill would require city officials to file state financial disclosures

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A bill that would require elected city officials to file detailed financial disclosures got thumbs up Wednesday morning from the Florida House Government Accountability Committee.

House Bill 7021, introduced by Republican state Rep. Larry Metz of Groveland, would require mayors, city council members and other municipal elected officials in perhaps half of Florida’s cities to file full and public disclosure of their public interests on the same forms now used by state and county elected officials.

The bill, which the committee approved unanimously, also creates a statewide registry for local lobbyists.

The municipal financial disclosure provisions, which Metz has sought for several years in similar bills that never quite reached the governor’s desk, would apply only to cities that have annual revenues of at least $10 million. One witness estimated that would eliminate about half of the 412 cities in Florida from the requirements, leading some committee members wondering why. The bill also only applies to elected officials, not candidates.

Metz responded that the disclosure provisions should be brought in incrementally, starting with those cities where more is at stake.

“We should not let pursuit of a perfect ethics reform bill be the enemy of a good ethics reform bill, which this is,” Metz said.

Democratic state Reps. Emily Slosberg of Delray Beach, Joseph Abruzzo of Belle Glade, and Kristin Diane Jacobs of Coconut Creek pushed in vein for broader requirements.

“As past audit chairman, we had numerous cases, and the majority of them were small cities where public corruption was taking place,” Abruzzo said.

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Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for SaintPetersBlog and FloridaPolitics.com. While at the University of Florida, Wilson was an editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and after graduation, he moved to Los Angeles to cover business deals for The Hollywood Reporter. Before joining Extensive Enterprises, Wilson covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools.

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