'Try not to date your aide'
That was among the pearls of wisdom offered to House freshmen during this week's two-day orientation program led by senior House Republicans.
One of those voices of experience belongs to Rep. Joe Pickens, R-Palatka. He warned the newbies that some lobbyists promote an amendment to a bill by claiming the Senate sponsor supports it. It's best to check that out, said Pickens, a past victim of the tactic.
Rep. Ed Homan, R-Temple Terrace, cautioned that changing "an" to "the" in a bill makes all the difference in the world. (It's often a change meant to cater to a special interest).
Rep. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, was assigned to explain the House policy that bars sexual harassment.
"People hug a lot around here," Bogdanoff said. "But inappropriate hugging, I think, we can probably tell the difference." It was she who began her talk with a friendly don't-date-your-aide admonition.
Rep. Ron Reagan, R-Bradenton, raced through an explanation of the ban on gifts and meals from lobbyists, noting a few narrowly-drawn exceptions. Summing up, he said: "When in doubt, do without." The 36 new House members are the first to begin their Tallahassee careers in the new no-freebies culture.