Gift ban law heads to state high court
Nearly two-and-a-half years after the Legislature passed a law banning lobbyist gifts and requiring lobbyists to disclose fees, a lawsuit by two of the state's best-known lobbyists is headed to the state Supreme Court. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta Thursday certified to the state court the questions of whether the law was enacted properly in a special session in December 2005 and whether the law violates separation of powers and infringes on Supreme Court jurisdiction.
Plaintiffs are lobbyists Ron Book, Guy Spearman and the Florida Association of Professional Lobbyists, and defendants include former House Speaker Allan Bense and former Senate President Tom Lee. The court sided with the Legislature in ruling that the law is not overly vague or broad, but revived an issue intensely discussed at the time of the gift ban's passage: whether the House followed its own rules and read the bill by title a third time before adopting it (see page 9 of the 16-page order here).
This case is mainly about the fee-disclosure requirements, however, and the order gives the lobbyists the forum they wanted all along in the state's highest court. "The case is headed to the Florida Supreme Court," Book said. "That's what we wanted."