Uncategorized — posted by khaughney on March, 5 2013 3:04 PM | Orlando Sentinel
TALLAHASSEE — The Senate just unanimously passed major ethics reform as its first bill of the 2013 session.
There was no debate, other than a closing statement by Ethics and Elections Chairman Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater.
“This is solid meaningful reform,” Latvala said. “Your goal for this bill if we pass it, you can look any constituent in the eye with conviction and tell them you have taken a firm stand for improved ethics in government.”
The measure, SB 2, does a number of things including creating a ban on lawmakers going immediately from the Legislature to a lobbying job. The bill had been amended to apply only to new lawmakers who start their terms after 2014, but lawmakers made a last-minute change that would make the ban applicable immediately upon becoming law.
The proposal also bans people from filing ethics complaints 30 days before an election, something typically done as a political ploy during a campaign. It also requires constitutional officers to have annual ethics training. And it puts lawmakers’ financial disclosure statements online, while giving the ethics commission the ability to file liens against officials who don’t pay fines levied by the commission.
Latvala noted that ethics changes would not have been needed if elected officials had been able to stay out of trouble in recent years.
“Just remember why we’re in office, that we’re there to serve the people who elected us and not ourselves,” Latvala said. “And I think we all recognize that the public confidence in government is at an all time low.”