The Florida House of Representatives is announcing several changes to House offices and spaces, including public trust improvements.
Members elected and reelected last week will convene for the first time Tuesday for a one-day Organizational Session. Committee Weeks begin in January while Session begins in earnest in March.
The House of Representatives released a YouTube video highlighting physical and structural changes it is making ahead of the Session.
“Remember, you, the members, are the stewards of this institution,” the narrator says. “Let’s all play our part to do everything we can to leave it stronger than we found it. After all, this is your House.”
A new Office of Public Accountability will be the House’s official investigative arm. Meanwhile, district offices will have district staff ombudsmen.
Like the doctor of the day practice, the House will begin inviting a law enforcement officer of the day. Active shooter training will be folded into the lawmaker curriculum. The House will also make security improvements to protect against cyberattacks and ransomware.
Other changes are intended to support legislative and district staff, including credentialing opportunities linking skills to salary. District offices will have new videoconferencing capabilities and constituent case management software.
The House is also creating a second new office, the Office of Public Information, to “diversify” communication within the House and the public.
With the COVID-19 pandemic looming over the upcoming Session, physical improvements will help facilitate social distancing. Committee rooms will have new seating for members, and teleconferencing capabilities are being updated around the House.
In the fourth floor Rotunda of the Capitol, in the space dividing the main doors to the House and Senate a new legislative welcome center is currently under construction. The House will carry maps, details on COVID-19 protocols and instructions on how to participate in the committee process.
“In the era of COVID-19, we can always do a better job of making your House more of a welcoming environment for the public.”