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Broad ethics bill unanimously passes first House stop

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

After a handful of amendments, an omnibus ethics bill unanimously passed the House Government Operations Subcommittee Tuesday afternoon.

LobbyTools reports that HB 593 will create a host of new mandates and requirements to help fraud and waste in state government

The strike-all amendment approved by the committee was similar to the original bill, only adding text contained in another anti-corruption proposal (HB 7071) sponsored by Rep. Ritch Workman.

Yalaha Republican Larry Metz, who filed HB 593, agreed that he would drop that language if HB 7071 progresses in the House.

LobbyTools notes that, among other things, the measure mandates state agencies to adopt internal controls to promote ethical behavior. It also lowers the burden of proof needed to bring charges like bribery or official misconduct, as well as institute new requirements on both lobbying and local municipal reporting requirements. One of those requirements is a 2-year ban on lobbying former employees of state entities like Enterprise Florida and adding further detailed financial reporting for municipal officials.

“Florida has gone too long neglecting public corruption and ethical abuses and its citizens have paid a real price for corrupt practices that have cost taxpayers public funds and damaged the state reputation,” said Ben Wilcox of the government watchdog group Common Cause Florida. “I think the fact that you have this bill before you show we’re moving in the right direction.”

However, HB 593 varies from its Senate companion, SB 686, which allows the Florida Commission on Ethics to initiate investigations.

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Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.

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