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Read here without downloading: Richard Corcoran’s ‘manifesto’

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An 86-page policy paper from Florida House Speaker-Designate Richard Corcoran (nicknamed “The Manifesto” by reporters) calls for a new “legislative culture of purpose” that includes, among other things, a more transparent budget process.

Many of the reforms proposed by Corcoran, a Land O’ Lakes Republican, in his Wednesday acceptance speech are also in the manifesto, which has a working title of “Blueprint Florida,” according to a copy provided to FloridaPolitics.com.

“This is a working document, written years ago by a number of freshman House members as a framework for ongoing, open-ended conversation,” Corcoran said. “Looking back on the document, some of the ideas remain compelling catalysts for change and others less so.

“But, what is most important is that we got together and were brave enough to write our ideas down on paper and work from these bold ideas for the sole purpose of making this process better.”  

On paper, those reforms include an extension of the ban on lobbying by former lawmakers. For example, the document proposed five years instead of the current two; Corcoran called for six years in his remarks.

It also calls for members seeking leadership positions to pledge not to seek them until they serve two legislative sessions. For those who break the pledge, it means being frozen out, with current leadership “refus(ing) to meet” with them.

Others weren’t mentioned by Corcoran on Wednesday, such as creating a “Policy Appeals Council” for House members who can’t get their bill heard by a committee. Another measure would speed up the procedure to discuss and vote on a bill on the floor.

The document, developed by Corcoran and more than two dozen Republican lawmakers, is as likely to namecheck a Founding Father as it is Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.

It compares the state to a corporation, saying elected officials need to be as accountable to their constituents as management is to shareholders.

One chapter heading, “Confronting the Brutal Facts,” was a phrase used by Corcoran to reporters after his designation ceremony on Wednesday.  

One of those brutal facts, the document says, is that “special interests generate too many bills that protect themselves, while legislators generate too few bills that protect the people.”

Part of the answer, the paper says, is that lawmakers have to come up with an agenda and stick to it. Otherwise, “members fall in love with their own bill, regardless of whether it is efficient and effective policy.”

The document also calls for better educating the news media on policy goals, and to fight against the urge toward horse trading, promising a vote for another member’s bill in return for that person’s vote for one’s own bill.

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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