Broad ethics bill unanimously passes first House stop

Ethics (Large)

After a handful of amendments, an omnibus ethics bill unanimously passed the House Government Operations Subcommittee Tuesday afternoon.

LobbyTools reports that HB 593 will create a host of new mandates and requirements to help prevent fraud and waste in state government

The strike-all amendment approved by the committee was similar to the original bill, only adding text contained in another anti-corruption proposal (HB 7071) sponsored by Rep. Ritch Workman.

Yalaha Republican Larry Metz, who filed HB 593, agreed that he would drop that language if HB 7071 progresses in the House.

LobbyTools notes that, among other things, the measure mandates state agencies to adopt internal controls to promote ethical behavior. It also lowers the burden of proof needed to bring charges such as bribery or official misconduct, as well as institute new requirements on both lobbying and local municipal reporting requirements. One of those requirements is a two-year ban on lobbying former employees of state entities such as Enterprise Florida and adding further detailed financial reporting for municipal officials.

“Florida has gone too long neglecting public corruption and ethical abuses and its citizens have paid a real price for corrupt practices that have cost taxpayers public funds and damaged the state reputation,” said Ben Wilcox of the government watchdog group Integrity Florida. “I think the fact that you have this bill before you show we’re moving in the right direction.”

However, HB 593 varies from its Senate companion, SB 686, which allows the Florida Commission on Ethics to initiate investigations.

Phil Ammann

Phil Ammann is a Tampa Bay-area journalist, editor and writer. With more than three decades of writing, editing, reporting and management experience, Phil produced content for both print and online, in addition to founding several specialty websites, including His broad range includes covering news, local government, entertainment reviews, marketing and an advice column. Phil has served as editor and production manager for Extensive Enterprises Media since 2013 and lives in Tampa with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul. He can be reached on Twitter @PhilAmmann or at [email protected].


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