Tom Lee suggests lawmakers may tweak gift ban

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Some legislators want to take a new look at the gift ban passed in 2005 that keeps lawmakers from accepting anything from lobbyists and the groups they represent.

“It’s been held responsible for everything except 9/11,” said Lee, whose push to end the influence of money in the legislative process led to the law that bans lawmakers and their staffs from accepting anything from lobbyists and the groups they represent.

Lee was Senate president when the law took effect and left the chamber later that year. Now back in the Senate, he wants to tweak the law to address issues some lawmakers say stifle routine interaction with constituents.

Among ideas he’s considering are allowing lawmakers to be guests at functions held by organizations like a chamber of commerce without having to pay. They would give notice they plan to attend and report the attendance afterward.

Sen. Arthenia Joyner voted for the gift ban in 2005, but welcomes a change. She says it’s awkward when she visits a school and has to explain why she can’t accept a cup of coffee.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this post.

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.