Jack Latvala wants to tighten residency definition for lawmakers

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State Senator Jack Latvala, chairman of the Senate Ethics & Elections Committee, wants to strengthen the legal definition of residency for legislators. He is calling to ban lawmakers from taking the homestead exemption on homes outside of their districts.

 Latvala’s efforts stem from media reports of “12 to 14” lawmakers living outside of the districts they serve, in a possible violation of the state Constitution, reports Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times.

“We’ve got a long way to go on this, but I believe they are taking it seriously,” Latvala said after his committee meeting Monday, referring to Senate leaders. “I will tell you I believe there is going to be a bill on residency.”

Residency investigations have mainly focused on House Democrats, but some Republicans have also been under scrutiny.

“If you’re abiding by the Constitution and taking a homestead exemption somewhere else, or if you’re supposed to represent a district and get the homestead exemption somewhere else,” Latvala said, speaking in generalities and not about any specific case, “that ought to be illegal.”

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.