The U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta ruled Thursday that the state's high court needs to rule on whether or not the law that imposed a strict gift ban on all legislators and state elected officials is in fact constitutional. Lobbyists Ron Book and Guy Spearman were among those who challenged the 2005 law, which also required many lobbyists to finally disclose how much money they are paid by clients.
The federal court ruled that the law is not "vague or overbroad" and does not violate any U.S. constitutional provisions, including First Amendment protections raised by the lobbyists who filed a lawsuit against the law.
But the court did rule that other questions raised by the lawsuit, including whether the act was enacted using correct legislative procedures must be decided by Florida judges. (A bit of the history--the lawsuit started in state court but got bumped to federal court by the lawyer hired by then Senate President Tom Lee to defend the gift ban.)
"These questions are solely issues of state law that should be decided by the Florida Supreme Court,'' states the ruling. Read the ruling here: Download lobbyist_ruling.pdf
Said Book: "It's a significant step on our behalf. We can get our day in state court which is the place where it should have been decided."