TALLAHASSEE — The prospects for the first serious ethics reform in 36 years brightened Tuesday when lawmakers embraced an array of changes that would make it harder for them to exploit their positions for financial gain.
The changes, unveiled during a Senate ethics committee by its chair, Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, include closing a "revolving door" that allows lawmakers to lobby state agencies after they are out of office; restricting lawmakers from using political committees for personal expenses; and prohibiting lawmakers from finding work at state colleges and universities after they are elected.
The committee of eight Republicans and five Democrats also sounded supportive of a slate of recommendations from the Florida Commission on Ethics, including docking pay for state workers who don't pay fines levied by the commission; putting liens on property of those who don't pay fines; posting financial disclosure information of public officials online; and giving law enforcement the ability to refer cases to the commission for investigation.
"These are historic times for Florida for ethics reform," said Dan Krassner, executive director of Integrity Florida. "This proposal is comprehensive and most impressive."