TALLHASSEE — Political ethics experts say they are impressed by many of the items in the proposed bill that a Senate ethics committee unanimously approved Tuesday.
"This sounds like Florida may be taking a big step forward in refining its ethics regulations," said Edwin Bender, executive director of The National Institute on Money in State Politics, a nonpartisan, nonprofit group that analyzes the influence of money in politics in all 50 states. "As far as addressing the public's trust in the state Legislature, this is a good step."
Touted as the most far-reaching ethics reform in 36 years, the bill would:
• Extend a ban that currently prohibits lawmakers from lobbying their colleagues in the legislative branch for two years after leaving office to include the executive branch (the governor's office and state agencies);
• Prohibit lawmakers and all elected officials in Florida from accepting a state administrative job after getting elected;
• Require lawmakers to abstain from voting on issues that benefit them or family members;
• And prohibit lawmakers from using political committees for personal expenses.
The bill doesn't have a companion bill yet in the House, where Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, has also declared ethics reform to be a top priority.
"We will shop it over there once we have a bill," said Senate President Don Gaetz, who thanked the chair of the committee, Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, for the bill's quick passage Tuesday.
Latvala said he isn't naïve about the bill's chances, but said the committee's unanimous support, including from Democrats and representing a third of the Senate, boosts its chances.