Bill Text: FL S0766 | 2020 | Regular Session | Introduced

Bill Title: Local Government Accountability

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Republican 1-0)

Status: (Failed) 2020-03-14 - Died in Ethics and Elections [S0766 Detail]

Download: Florida-2020-S0766-Introduced.html
       Florida Senate - 2020                                     SB 766
       By Senator Perry
       8-00718A-20                                            2020766__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to local government accountability;
    3         amending s. 112.3148, F.S.; redefining the term
    4         “lobbyist” to conform to changes made by the act;
    5         repealing s. 112.3261, F.S., relating to registration
    6         of and reporting by water management district
    7         lobbyists; creating s. 112.3262, F.S.; defining terms;
    8         requiring the Commission on Ethics to create the Local
    9         Government Lobbyist Registration System; preempting
   10         local government rules or ordinances establishing a
   11         lobbyist registration system; authorizing governmental
   12         entities to adopt certain rules and ordinances;
   13         prohibiting a person from lobbying a governmental
   14         entity absent registration with the commission;
   15         specifying registration requirements; requiring the
   16         commission to publish a lobbyist directory;
   17         establishing procedures for the cancellation of a
   18         lobbyist’s registration; requiring a governmental
   19         entity to monitor compliance with registration
   20         requirements; requiring the commission to investigate
   21         sworn complaints containing certain allegations;
   22         prescribing procedures for the disposition of
   23         complaints; specifying applicable penalties for
   24         violations; specifying required duties of governmental
   25         entities; authorizing the commission to adopt certain
   26         rules; authorizing an affected person to seek an
   27         advisory opinion from the commission; amending ss.
   28         125.001 and 166.0213, F.S.; requiring boards of county
   29         commissioners and governing bodies of municipalities,
   30         respectively, to provide notice of certain meetings in
   31         a specified manner; providing a declaration of
   32         important state interest; providing an effective date.
   34  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   36         Section 1. Paragraph (b) of subsection (2) of section
   37  112.3148, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
   38         112.3148 Reporting and prohibited receipt of gifts by
   39  individuals filing full or limited public disclosure of
   40  financial interests and by procurement employees.—
   41         (2) As used in this section:
   42         (b)1. “Lobbyist” means any natural person who, for
   43  compensation, seeks, or sought during the preceding 12 months,
   44  to influence the governmental decisionmaking of a reporting
   45  individual or procurement employee or his or her agency or
   46  seeks, or sought during the preceding 12 months, to encourage
   47  the passage, defeat, or modification of any proposal or
   48  recommendation by the reporting individual or procurement
   49  employee or his or her agency.
   50         2. With respect to an agency that is a governmental entity
   51  as defined in s. 112.3262 has established by rule, ordinance, or
   52  law a registration process for persons seeking to influence
   53  decisionmaking or to encourage the passage, defeat, or
   54  modification of any proposal or recommendation by such agency or
   55  an employee or official of the agency, the term “lobbyist”
   56  includes only a person who is required to be registered as a
   57  lobbyist in accordance with s. 112.3262 such rule, ordinance, or
   58  law or who, was during the preceding 12 months, was required to
   59  be registered as a lobbyist in accordance with s. 112.3262 such
   60  rule, ordinance, or law. At a minimum, such a registration
   61  system must require the registration of, or must designate,
   62  persons as “lobbyists” who engage in the same activities as
   63  require registration to lobby the Legislature pursuant to s.
   64  11.045.
   65         Section 2. Section 112.3261, Florida Statutes, is repealed.
   66         Section 3. Section 112.3262, Florida Statutes, is created
   67  to read:
   68         112.3262 Lobbying before governmental entities.—
   69         (1)As used in this section, the term:
   70         (a)“Governmental entity” or “entity” means a water
   71  management district created in s. 373.069 and operating under
   72  the authority of chapter 373, a hospital district, a children’s
   73  services district, an expressway authority, a port authority as
   74  defined in s. 315.02, a county, a municipality, a school
   75  district, or a special district.
   76         (b)“Lobbying” means seeking, on behalf of another person,
   77  to influence a governmental entity with respect to a decision of
   78  the entity in an area of policy or procurement or an attempt to
   79  obtain the goodwill of an official or employee of a governmental
   80  entity. The term does not include representing a client in any
   81  stage of applying for, or seeking approval of, an application
   82  for a license, permit, or waiver of a regulation or other
   83  administrative action, or opposition to such action, provided
   84  that such action does not require legislative discretion and is
   85  subject to judicial review by petitioning for writ of
   86  certiorari.
   87         (c)“Lobbyist” means a person who is employed and receives
   88  payment, or who contracts for economic consideration, for the
   89  purpose of lobbying, or a person who is principally employed for
   90  governmental affairs by another person or governmental entity to
   91  lobby on behalf of such person or governmental entity. The term
   92  does not include a person who:
   93         1.Represents a client in a judicial proceeding or in a
   94  formal administrative proceeding before a governmental entity.
   95         2.Is an officer or employee of an agency acting in the
   96  normal course of his or her duties.
   97         3.Consults under contract with the governmental entity and
   98  communicates with the entity’s governing body or governing body
   99  employee regarding issues related to the scope of services in
  100  his or her contract.
  101         4.Is an employee, an officer, or a board member of a
  102  homeowners’ association, condominium association, or
  103  neighborhood association when addressing, in his or her capacity
  104  as an employee, an officer, or a board member of such
  105  association, an issue impacting the association or its members.
  106         5.Is a confidential informant who is providing, or wishes
  107  to provide, confidential information to be used for law
  108  enforcement purposes.
  109         6.Is an expert witness who is retained or employed by an
  110  employer, a principal, or a client to provide only scientific,
  111  technical, or other specialized information provided in agenda
  112  materials or testimony only in public hearings, provided that
  113  the expert identifies such employer, principal, or client at
  114  such hearing.
  115         7.Seeks to procure a contract that is less than $20,000 or
  116  a contract made pursuant s. 287.056.
  117         (d)“Principal” has the same meaning as in s. 112.3215.
  118         (e)“Principally employed for governmental affairs” means
  119  that one of the employee’s principal or most significant
  120  responsibilities to the employer is overseeing the employer’s
  121  various governmental relationships or representing the employer
  122  in its contacts made with an officer or employee of a
  123  governmental entity.
  124         (2)The Commission on Ethics shall create the Local
  125  Government Lobbyist Registration System to register lobbyists
  126  who wish to lobby governmental entities as provided in this
  127  section. Beginning October 1, 2020, any governmental entity rule
  128  or ordinance that requires lobbyist registration is preempted
  129  and replaced by the registration system established by this
  130  subsection. Additionally, a governmental entity may not require
  131  classes or certifications or otherwise impose additional
  132  requirements as a requisite for lobbyist registration. However,
  133  in accordance with s. 112.326, a governmental entity may adopt a
  134  rule or an ordinance to require compensation reporting and
  135  disclosure of contacts that a lobbyist has made with an officer
  136  or employee of a governmental entity and to restrict exchange of
  137  money or other things of value between a lobbyist and officers
  138  or employees of a governmental entity.
  139         (3) Beginning October 1, 2020, a person may not lobby a
  140  governmental entity until such person has electronically
  141  registered as a lobbyist with the commission. Such initial
  142  registration is due upon the person being retained to lobby and
  143  is renewable annually on the anniversary of the lobbyist’s
  144  registration or in the month of the lobbyist’s birth, as
  145  selected by the lobbyist at the time of registration. The
  146  commission shall request authorization from the principal using
  147  the principal’s name, business address, e-mail address, and
  148  telephone number to confirm that the registrant is authorized to
  149  represent the principal. The principal or principal’s
  150  representative shall identify and designate its main business
  151  pursuant to the North American Industry Classification System
  152  (NAICS) six-digit numerical code that most accurately describes
  153  its main business. Registration is incomplete until the
  154  commission receives the principal’s authorization. Any changes
  155  to the information required by this subsection must be disclosed
  156  within 15 days after such change by the lobbyist updating his or
  157  her registration. The commission may require separate
  158  registration submissions for each county and multi-county
  159  governmental entity, but each such submission must include any
  160  governmental entity in the county for which the submission is
  161  made. The commission may allow for streamlined registration for
  162  all governmental entities. A person required to register as a
  163  lobbyist under this subsection shall register through the
  164  electronic system and shall attest to the following:
  165         (a)His or her full legal name, birth month, e-mail
  166  address, telephone number, and business address.
  167         (b)The name, e-mail address, telephone number, and
  168  business address of each principal represented.
  169         (c)The name of each governmental entity lobbied or
  170  intended to be lobbied on behalf of the principal.
  171         (d)Any direct or indirect business association,
  172  partnership, or financial relationship with an official or
  173  employee of a governmental entity lobbied or intended to be
  174  lobbied on behalf of the principal.
  175         (4) The commission shall publish on the Internet a lobbyist
  176  directory that contains all lobbyist registrations.
  177         (5) A lobbyist shall promptly provide a written statement
  178  to the commission canceling the designation of a principal upon
  179  termination of such representation. The commission may cancel a
  180  lobbyist’s designation of a principal upon receipt of
  181  notification by the principal that the lobbyist is no longer
  182  authorized to represent such principal.
  183         (6) A governmental entity must make reasonable efforts to
  184  ascertain whether a person who lobbies that entity has
  185  registered pursuant to this section. A governmental entity may
  186  not knowingly authorize an unregistered lobbyist to lobby the
  187  entity.
  188         (7)(a) Upon discovery of a violation of this section, a
  189  person or governmental entity may file a sworn complaint with
  190  the commission. Except as provided in subsection (8), the
  191  commission shall investigate every sworn complaint that is filed
  192  which alleges that a person covered by this section has failed
  193  to register or has knowingly submitted false information in any
  194  registration required in this section.
  195         (b) If the commission finds no probable cause to believe
  196  that a violation of this section has occurred, it shall dismiss
  197  the complaint and send a copy of the complaint, findings, and
  198  summary to the complainant and the alleged violator. If the
  199  commission finds probable cause to believe that a violation of
  200  this section has occurred, it shall report the results of its
  201  investigation to the Governor and send, by certified mail, a
  202  copy of the report to the alleged violator. A person who the
  203  commission finds probable cause to believe has violated this
  204  section is entitled to a public hearing upon timely submission
  205  of a written request for a hearing to the Governor. Such person
  206  is deemed to have waived his or her right to a public hearing if
  207  the request is not received within 14 days after a copy of the
  208  report is mailed to him or her. However, the Governor may
  209  require a public hearing and may conduct such further
  210  investigation as he or she deems necessary.
  211         (c)If the Governor determines that a violation occurred,
  212  he or she may reprimand, censure, or assess a civil penalty
  213  against the violator in accordance with this section.
  214         (8)(a) Upon a first complaint to the commission alleging a
  215  violation of subsection (3) against a lobbyist, or upon any
  216  complaint against a lobbyist received before January 1, 2021,
  217  the commission shall, within 30 days after receipt of the
  218  complaint, issue a warning letter to the lobbyist directing him
  219  or her to consult the obligations of lobbyists under this
  220  section and shall dismiss the complaint.
  221         (b)For complaints against a lobbyist received on or after
  222  January 1, 2021, notwithstanding the civil penalties in s.
  223  112.317, a lobbyist found by the commission to have violated
  224  subsection (3) is subject to:
  225         1.For a first violation, a civil penalty not to exceed
  226  $500.
  227         2.For a second or subsequent violation committed within 12
  228  months after the Governor determines that a first violation has
  229  been committed, a civil penalty of at least $200 but not more
  230  than $1,000 or a 1-year suspension from lobbying any
  231  governmental entity associated with the violation. A
  232  governmental entity may impose additional civil penalties not to
  233  exceed $500 per violation, and, notwithstanding paragraph (c),
  234  may suspend the lobbyist from lobbying the governmental entity
  235  and its agencies on behalf of any principal for a period of up
  236  to 2 years.
  237         (c)The civil penalties and suspensions provided in this
  238  subsection must be applied on a per-principal basis with
  239  suspensions affecting only those principals for whom
  240  unregistered lobbying occurred.
  241         (9)By January 1, 2021, a governmental entity’s governing
  242  body, or the entity’s designee, shall notify the commission of
  243  any ordinance or rule that imposes additional or more stringent
  244  obligations with respect to lobbyist compensation reporting, or
  245  other conduct involving lobbying activities, and shall forward
  246  to the commission a copy of any associated form that has been
  247  established to facilitate compliance with such ordinance or
  248  rule. By January 1, 2022, each governmental entity shall conform
  249  its lobbyist regulation system, if any, to accommodate regular
  250  digital distribution of lobbyist registration data from the
  251  commission so that initial registration of a lobbyist pursuant
  252  to subsection (3) is accomplished without having to supply the
  253  lobbyist and principal information to more than one lobbyist
  254  regulation system. The commission shall cooperate to the extent
  255  reasonably practicable to ensure such coordination of
  256  information.
  257         (10) The commission may adopt rules to establish procedures
  258  for the administration of the Local Government Lobbyist
  259  Registration System, including the staggering of registration
  260  renewal dates based on the anniversary of the lobbyist’s
  261  registration or the month of the lobbyist’s birth, as selected
  262  by the lobbyist at the time of registration, and for the
  263  adoption of forms, the method of registering specific entities
  264  lobbied, and the exchange of information with governmental
  265  entities.
  266         (11) A person, when in doubt about the applicability and
  267  interpretation of this section, may submit in writing to the
  268  commission the facts of the situation with a request for an
  269  advisory opinion to establish the standard of duty. An advisory
  270  opinion shall be rendered by the commission and, until amended
  271  or revoked, is binding on the conduct of the person who sought
  272  the opinion, unless material facts were omitted or misstated in
  273  the request.
  274         Section 4. Subsection (1) of section 125.001, Florida
  275  Statutes, is amended to read:
  276         125.001 Board meetings; notice.—
  277         (1) Upon the giving of due public notice, regular and
  278  special meetings of the board may be held at any appropriate
  279  public place in the county. Except in the case of emergency
  280  meetings, the board shall provide notice of any meeting of the
  281  board at least 7 days in advance by posting a notice on the
  282  county’s website. Additionally, the notice must include a
  283  statement of the general subject matter to be considered by the
  284  board.
  285         Section 5. Subsection (3) is added to section 166.0213,
  286  Florida Statutes, to read:
  287         166.0213 Governing body meetings.—
  288         (3) Except in the case of emergency meetings, the governing
  289  body of a municipality shall provide notice of any meeting of
  290  the governing body at least 7 days in advance by posting a
  291  notice on the municipality’s website. Additionally, the notice
  292  must include a statement of the general subject matter to be
  293  considered by the governing body.
  294         Section 6. The Legislature finds that a proper and
  295  legitimate state purpose is served when mechanisms are
  296  established to secure and sustain the public’s trust in public
  297  officers and employees. Therefore, the Legislature determines
  298  and declares that this act fulfills an important state interest.
  299         Section 7. This act shall take effect October 1, 2020.