CS/CS/HB 7001 (Public Integrity & Elections Committee) implements section 8(f), Article II of the state constitution, approved by voters in 2018. The provision prohibits lobbying by certain public officers both during public service and for a six-year period following vacation of public office. The prohibition applies to lobbying before the federal government, the Legislature, any state agency, or any political subdivision and takes effect December 31, 2022. The prohibition applies to the following public officers: statewide elected officers; legislators; county commissioners; constitutional county officers and county charter officials; school board members; school superintendents; elected municipal officers; elected special district officers in special districts with ad valorem taxing authority; and secretaries, executive directors, and other administrative heads of executive branch departments. The bill defines terms that are not defined in the constitutional provision. Notable definitions in the bill include: “lobby,” “compensation,” “legislative action,” “issue of policy,” “issue of procurement,” “issue of appropriation,” “administrative action,” lobbying before the federal government and lobbying before political subdivisions. The bill provides specified exemptions from the definition of lobbying.
•“Administrative action” – means any process or decision regulated by Chapter 120. For a political subdivision not regulated by Chapter 120, the term means any action or decision on a license, permit, waiver of regulation, development order or permit, development agreement, any quasi-judicial proceeding on land use matters, any decision subject to judicial review by petition for writ of certiorari, or any other procedure governed by existing law, ordinance, rule or regulation, except on an issue of procurement.
•“Issue of appropriation” – means a legislative decision to expend or approve an expenditure of public funds, including decisions that are delegated to an administrator.
•“Issue of policy” – means a change in a law, ordinance or decision, plan, or course of action designed to influence the actions of a governmental entity or to regulate conduct.
•The term “lobby” does not include the following:
oProviding confidential information for law enforcement purposes;
oAppearing as a witness at the written request of a legislative body or committee, including a legislative delegation meeting;
oAppearing or offering testimony as an expert witness.
•“Lobby for compensation” – means being employed or contracting for compensation, for the purpose of lobbying, and includes being principally employed for governmental affairs to lobby on behalf of a person or governmental entity; but the term does not include the following:
oA public officer carrying out the duties of his or her public office;
oA public or private employee or officer, acting in the normal course of his or her duties, unless he or she is principally employed for governmental affairs;
oAdvice or services to a governmental entity pursuant to a contractual obligation with the governmental entity;
oRepresentation of a person on a legal claim cognizable in a court of law, in an administrative proceeding, or in front of an adjudicatory body, including representation in prelitigation offers, demands and negotiations, but excluding claims bill representation;
oRepresentation of a person in any proceeding on a complaint or allegation that could lead to discipline or adverse action against the person;
oRepresentation of a person with respect to a subpoena or other legal process.
These definitions and others included in the bill should help local and state public officials whose private sector employment requires them to render legal services for clients before various state and political subdivisions. CS/CS/HB 7001 passed the House (117-0) and the Senate (39-0) and is awaiting action by the Governor. (O'Hara)