Change is coming, but the state’s lobbying association wants to offer some input before new House rules are finalized.
David Mica, the chairman of the Florida Association of Professional Lobbyists, sent a letter Monday to House Speaker Designate Richard Corcoran asking weigh in on the House rules before they are released.
“There have been several news reports which suggest that part of the new House Rules will include provisions related to how House members interact with lobbyists,” said Mica in a letter to Corcoran. “As such, we felt it was important to provide stakeholder input to avoid any unintended consequences and to minimize unnecessary regulations, as many of us are small business owners. Since we have not yet had the opportunity to review the new rules, is it possible for us to review and provide meaningful input at this time?”
The Florida Times-Union reported Monday that Corcoran’s proposal will require lobbyists to file paperwork before speaking with a member of the House or staff on issues that may come up for a vote. The newspaper reported lobbyists would be required to submit “notice of appearance” paperwork before their first meeting on an issue or about legislation.
Also on Monday, the Miami Herald reported Corcoran wanted, among other things, to ban lobbyists from text messaging legislators while in committee or in the House chamber. The newspaper also reported the rules require lobbyists to adhere to new sexual harassment standards, and prohibit Legislators from taking a new job while in office from a company or interest that receives state funding.
“The exchange of information between professional lobbyists and Legislators plays an important role in the legislative process,” said Mica. “As we move forward during your term as speaker, please know that FAPL stands ready to work with you to advance professionalism and ethics in the lobbying profession, and the legislative process overall.”
He continued by telling Corcoran if there is a “specific issue or problem that you would like to address,” there are FAPL members with decades of experience in the process ready to help draft “the appropriate rule or legislation to address any issue of concern.”
Corcoran has had his sights on lobbyists for months, alluding to changes during his designation speech in September. In prepared remarks, the Land O’Lakes Republican said the House must “change the lobbyist registration rules by requiring every lobbyist to disclose which bills, which amendments and which appropriations they are trying to influence.”
Corcoran also has signaled he plans to push to end the so-called revolving door between the Legislature and lobbying industry through a constitutional amendment barring legislators from lobbying the legislative or executive branch for six years.
He is also expected to propose dramatic changes to the appropriations process, which would require members to file an individual bill for each budget request. Members would be required to file all of their requests by the bill filing deadline at the beginning of session.
The Florida House is expected to make the 2016-18 Rules of the Florida House available Thursday. The House will then be tasked with adopting the new rules during its organizational meeting later this month.