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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

New Senate bill proposes ethics reform

3

March

State Senator Mike Fasano (R-New Port Richey) filed legislation this week that would make broad changes to the state’s ethics laws, including giving greater authority to the Florida Ethics Commission.

Senate Bill 1484 would put into law many of the recommendations of the statewide grand jury that had been convened at the request of former governor Charlie Crist after several high-profile public corruption cases.

  The legislation would:
  • Give greater incentive for the governor and Cabinet-level officials to put their assets into a blind trust
  • Expand the list of officeholders subject to prohibitions on hiring relatives and disclosures about conflicts of interests
  • Allow a supermajority of the members of the Florida Ethics Commission to decide whether to pursue an investigation into potential ethics violations. Currently, the commission must first wait until someone files a complaint.
  • Increases the maximum civil penalties for public officials who violate ethics laws from $10,000 to $100,000
  • Adds a new $5,000 penalty for lobbyists who fail to properly report and file specified disclosure documents. 
  Fasano said the bill was not aimed at any specific case but was more of an attempt to incorporate the recommendations of the grand jury’s report.
 
“Public officials need to be held to a high standard,” he said. “If people are not able to hold themselves to that high standard then the legislature must enact laws to force them to do so.”
 

[Last modified: Thursday, March 3, 2011 4:36pm]

    

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