The Florida House continued its legislative crackdown on lobbyists Friday, extending the statewide ban on former lawmakers and elected officials from two years to six years. The bill would make Florida the most restrictive state in the country for lobbyists.
Nearly all House members voted in favor of HB 7003, approving the measure by a vote of 110-3.
Under the proposal, former legislators and elected officials would not be allowed to lobby in Florida for any person, entity or state government agency for six years.
The ban would only apply to lawmakers and elected officials who were members of the legislature or who were statewide elected officials after Nov. 8, 2016.
HB 7003 is just one part of a set of more restrictive measures the House has taken up to promote "transparency" in state government this year.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Larry Metz, R-Yahala, says the bill wasn’t created to imply any wrongdoing by elected officials, but to slam the “revolving door” in the legislative process.
Metz said Florida’s current rules could make citizens feel less secure about the intentions of their elected officials.
"There is sort of a coziness or appearance of coziness that occurs that undermines public confidence in government," Metz said.
Metz also said the new regulation would discourage lawmakers from buddying up with lobbyists in order to get a job after leaving office.
House Speaker Richard Corcoran opened up this year’s legislative session with a sweeping set of rules cracking down on more common lobbying practices in Tallahassee.
Corcoran proposed a series of bans, prohibiting lawmakers from jetsetting off with lobbyists in private planes and from texting and emailing with lobbyists during committee meetings.
Lobbyists are also required to file paperwork before speaking with House members before any issues come up for a vote.
The Senate doesn’t operate under the same guidelines and has not adopted Corcoran’s restrictive policies -- but the bill now heads to the Senate for approval.