Tuesday, March 9, 2010

March 9: Florida Legislature Should Have No Ethics Conflicts

By Sylvia Gurinsky

Floridians would probably have this reaction on seeing Florida Senate Bill 438: Duh.

The Florida Legislature should have this reaction: Yes.

The bill is sponsored by State Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland. Its companion House Bill 587 is sponsored by State Rep. Adam Fetterman, D-Port St. Lucie. Called the "Restoring Trust In Government Act," it would prohibit any member of the legislature from voting on or having any part in bills that would affect any of their family members.

The legislation has bipartisan support in both houses. But a potential roadblock in the Senate is exactly the reason this legislation is needed: State Sen. John Thrasher heads the Ethics and Elections committee.

You guessed it: Thrasher has been nabbed - twice - for violating ethical standards in the past. Oh, yes, Thrasher may become the next chairman of Florida's Republican Party, which has a few ethics issues of its own.

Thrasher and other bigwigs in the Legislature would be well advised to push the legislation through as quickly as possible - and add an amendment to provide for penalties, which is lacking now.

Lawmakers should approve this bill - resoundingly. Not all of them made the current mess, but they should all help to clean it up.

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