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Commentary, sarcasm and snide remarks from a Florida resident of over thirty years. Being a glutton for punishment is a requirement for residency here. Who am I? I've been called a moonbat by Michelle Malkin, a Right Wing Nut by Daily Kos, and middle of the road by Florida blog State of Sunshine. Tell me what you think.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

A miracle in Tallahassee?

Florida legislators approved a bill that would ban all gifts by lobbyists to state lawmakers. The vote was 37-3 in the Senate and 112-6 in the House.

On hearing such news a person like myself either feels like 1- Congratulating our lawmakers on this step towards responsible government or 2- Start looking for the loopholes in the law. I'm more inclined to the later. When legislation directly affects legislators cynicism boils to the top. How will this law benefit them? I'm hoping to be wrong for a chnage. Time will tell.

Open Post- Outside the Beltway, Is it just me?, Right Wing Nation, Bright & Early, TMH's Bacon Bits,

TALLAHASSEE -- The Florida Legislature today approved an all-out ban on lobbyists gifts to lawmakers.

Seizing a chance to limit lobbyists' influence, Republican leaders of the House and Senate convinced reluctant rank-and-file lawmakers to accept a ban on gifts and meals that lobbyists have for years used as a tool for gaining crucial access to politicians and to cajole lawmakers.

Despite hours of debate and considerable grumbling from many legislators, few legislators were willing to vote against it. The Senate passed the gift ban on a 37-3 vote. The House approved it on a 112-6 vote.

``This will go down as the most meaningful institutional reform that we've made here,'' said House Speaker-designate Marco Rubio, R-Miami. ``It will infuse a new level of trust in our decision-making process.''

The ban legislators approved includes a provision requiring lobbyists to disclose their compensation -- in rough $10,000 increments -- they are paid by their clients. Also linked to the bill is a provision banning lobbyists convicted of felonies, starting next year, from lobbying the Legislature.

Public officials in Florida are already banned from accepting gifts worth more than $100, and lobbyists must report gifts valued over $25. But both legislators and lobbyists have found ways to get around the limits.

The only gift exception allowed under the new ban ? which goes into effect in January ? would be for flowers and trinkets lobbyists could still give lawmakers on opening day of sessions.

The ban was accepted by lawmakers in lieu of an alternative proposal by Senate President Tom Lee that would have forced lobbyists from giving money to political parties as a back-door plan to pay for lawmakers' meals and other expenses.

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