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Florida Senate light on lobbying in new rules

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

Senate President-designate Joe Negron on Tuesday released his chamber’s proposed rules for 2016-18, which didn’t contain the strict provisions of their House counterparts.

But the Stuart Republican, set to officially take over next week, still told members in a memo to “review the attached documents carefully” since “the adoption of rules is a significant matter.”

Noteworthy changes include:

— Increasing the ethics training requirement to four hours from one hour.

— Allowing the Rules Committee to report to the “findings concerning a senator’s appeal of his or her removal from committee.”

For instance, that might have helped then-Sen. Mike Fasano in 2012. Former Senate President Mike Haridopolos stripped Fasano of his chairmanship of a Senate budget subcommittee after he fought a plan to privatize prisons.

Haridopolos also booted Fasano, now Pasco County’s tax collector, off the Appropriations Committee.

— Requiring the “introducer or the first or second named co-introducer to present a bill in committee or subcommittee.”

This means that legislative aides can no longer present bills for senators who are busy elsewhere or absent from the Capitol.

— Changes the call to end a committee meeting from “rise” to “adjourn.”

Committee chairs had long ended meetings by saying that a fellow senator “moves we rise.” But the expression became a pet peeve of Rules chair David Simmons.

” ‘Adjourn’ is the proper parliamentary form by which to end a committee meeting,” explains a summary of the rule changes.

— Eliminates the need for “courtesy sponsors.”

A new rule allows a bill’s introducer “to offer an amendment to his or her own bill when a committee or subcommittee of which they are not a member is considering their bill.”

Unlike the House, the new Senate rules only address lobbyists in the context of being on the floor while the Senate is in session.

“During a sitting, no person admitted … shall engage in any lobbying activity involving a measure pending before the Legislature during the legislative session,” it says.

Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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