Tuesday, August 14, 2018
News Roundup

Lacking support, lobbying ordinance gets no hearing in Hernando

BROOKSVILLE — A push to publicly identify people who lobby top county officials was rejected by a majority of the Hernando County Commission this week when commissioners decided to pull a proposed lobbying ordinance from the agenda.

The idea to create a lobbyist registry to keep track of who talks to county commissioners, department heads and other decision makers was first suggested by county Commissioner John Allocco.

He had said the county lacks transparency when it comes to knowing who is lobbying commissioners and that residents should be able to find out who is talking to them about issues where they might have a financial interest.

But even when Allocco proposed the idea earlier this summer, it caused friction among fellow commissioners.

Three of those commissioners voted Tuesday to pull the proposed ordinance, which would have required those who could gain directly or indirectly from county decisions to register and for logs to be kept of their communications with county officials. In addition, the proposed ordinance would have prohibited lobbyists from using private text messages, private cell phones or private email, which cannot be easily viewed under Florida's public records laws, to make their pitches to officials.

Commissioner Steve Champion said there was not a consensus to bring an ordinance forward so the item should not have been placed on the agenda. Commissioners Nick Nicholson and commission Chairman Wayne Dukes agreed and pulled the item.

Allocco and Commissioner Jeff Holcomb, who also supported the ordinance during the last discussion, voted against removing the item from the agenda.

Contact Barbara Behrendt at [email protected] or (352) 848-1434.

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