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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Corcoran may push stricter lobbying and ethics in House rules

Rep. Richard Corcoran tried to get the Legislature to rewrite lobbying and ethics laws. It didn't work.

So the Republican speaker-designate of the Florida House from Pasco County says he's "absolutely" planning to add the controversial changes to the House rulebook at the start of his two-year term starting in November.

They could include requiring lobbyists to publicly disclose every bill and amendment they seek to influence and to extend from two to six years the ban against legislators becoming lobbyists after they leave office. (Some lobbyists claim Florida's "trade secrets" law protects their right to keep secret which bills they're trying to pass or defeat).

When the Legislature reorganizes every two years, one of its first (and often overlooked) acts is to adopt a set of rules, in an up-and-down vote by the 120 members during a one-day, feel-good organizational session set for Nov. 22, two weeks after America elects a new president. The rules govern day-to-day operations, from filing and amending bills to the conduct of lawmakers and lobbyists.

Corcoran said he plans a rules rewrite if his leadership team, which includes a number of Miami-Dade members such as Reps. Jose Oliva and Carlos Trujillo, agrees with him (which they surely will).

"To the extent that we ultimately end up with a team of leaders in the House who believe that these make government better then we absolutely will do those in the rules," Corcoran told the Times/Herald. Taking that step would be brutally effective, but could open Corcoran to criticism that he's circumventing actual lawmaking, for which Republicans have repeatedly faulted President Barack Obama in issuing executive orders.

Some of Corcoran's proposals made it into an ethics bill in the 2016 session, and the package cleared the House but died in a Senate committee.


[Last modified: Friday, June 3, 2016 5:20pm]


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