Several government-watchdog groups are holding a news conference today to call on Florida lawmakers to pass stalled ethics and open-government bills.
Representatives from the First Amendment Foundation, Integrity Florida, Common Cause Florida and Citizens Awareness Foundation will hold the news conference 10 a.m. at the Florida Press Center.
They’re calling for action on a bill (SB 1648) that would make a number of changes to Florida’s sunshine laws and another (SB 846) that would put in place new ethics requirements for local officials and quasi-government agencies.
SB 1648, co-sponsored by Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, would allow records requests to be made over the phone, require state agencies to train employees on public-records laws and limit the cost of fees for “voluminous or complicated” records requests.
SB 846 would prohibit local officers, from sheriffs and state attorneys to county commissioners and school-board members, from lobbying the Legislature or state agencies on behalf of anyone other than their own local government while they are in office.
It would extend ethics requirements to quasi-government entities like Enterprise Florida and allow the Florida Commission on Ethics to initiate proceedings without first getting a complaint against officials who fail to file financial disclosures and reach the maximum fine amount.
Both bills passed unanimously in the Senate on March 26 but have since been held up in the House, said Dan Krassner, executive director of Integrity Florida.
The groups also are expressing concern about a “warning-shot” bill that passed both chambers and is awaiting the governor’s signature. The bill would allow people to fire a warning shot in cases of self defense. One of its provisions would allow court records to be expunged when a person is found to have acted in self-defense.
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