Tuesday 3 January 2023

Elected Officials Forced To Resign As Florida Anti-Lobbying Law Takes Effect

 A new Florida law designed to restrict political lobbying by current and former public officials has led multiple officeholders to resign.

The law prevents public officials from lobbying for six years after their tenure and it bans elected officials from lobbying while in office. It is the longest lobbying ban in the country and is likely the reason why Florida has seen a wave of resignations by high-profile officials.

Two state agency heads and Florida’s insurance commissioner have resigned in the weeks leading up to the law coming into effect, according to the Miami Herald.

Miami Shores Council member Crystal Wagar and Miami-Dade County School Board Member Lubby Navarro both resigned because of the extended lobbying ban, according to local outlet WPLG 10.

The lobbying ban came into effect Jan 1. to implement an amendment to the Florida constitution approved by voters in 2018, Associated Press (AP) reported. The state previously had a 2 year lobbying ban for public officials.

Five elected officials in Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Leon counties have filed a federal lawsuit against the lobbying ban for allegedly violating their right to free speech, Miami Herald reported.

They claim an overly broad lobbying ban would be contrary to the public interest because it disincentivizes public service, a part time occupation for most Florida officials. 

“It is for this very reason that the First Amendment of the United States Constitution expressly protects the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances, along with the rights to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly,” the lawsuit says.

The plaintiffs’ request to temporarily block the law was denied by a judge in an emergency hearing Thursday, the Herald reported. Their arguments will be heard in court Jan 27., the Herald added.

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