Sweeping ethics reforms ready for the Fla. Senate floor

FL Sen Don Gaetz officialThe Senate Ethics Reform Package, which includes Senate Bill 2 and Senate Bill 4, unanimously passed the Senate Rules Committee on Tuesday. Senate President Don Gaetz (R-Niceville) said the legislation is now ready to be heard on the Senate Floor.

Gaetz released the following statement regarding the legislation:

“Public service is an obligation and a responsibility, not an opportunity to enrich oneself,” said Senate President Gaetz. “I could not be more pleased that the Senate has prioritized this critical legislation, which will go to great lengths to restore public confidence in Florida’s state and local elected officials. I appreciate Senator Latvala’s hard work on this legislation and look forward to the Senate hearing these bills on the floor during the first week of session.”

SB 2 and 4 were drafted by the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee and co-introduced by Chairman Senator Jack Latvala (R-Clearwater).

SB 2 addresses a number of reported ethical concerns by making financial disclosures available online, giving the Commission on Ethics more authority to collect unpaid fines, requiring state officers to abstain from voting on certain matters that benefit them directly, requiring ethics training for constitutional officers, placing greater restrictions on public employment while in office and restrictions on lobbying after leaving office, and prohibiting officials from accepting gifts from political committees and Committees of Continuous Existence. The bill also allows public officials to place their assets in a blind trust to help them avoid potential conflicts of interest and allows the use of certified public accountants when preparing financial disclosures.

SB 4 revises laws relating to public records to accommodate new provisions in SB 2 that allow the Commission to initiate investigations based on referrals from the Governor, the Department of Law Enforcement, and the state and U.S. Attorneys.

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