Florida Legislative Session Kicks Off

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The lawmakers and lobbyists are back in town as Tallahassee gets ready to host the 2006 legislative session.

There’s plenty on the agenda when they get down to business, but Monday night it's mix and mingle.

A lot of money questions still linger over Florida's capital city on the eve of the 2006 legislative session, and they're not just about a new budget. They're also about a lobbyist gift ban.

Rep. Curtis Richardson says he still hasn't quite figured out the impact, but says it will change the way things are done in Tallahassee.

Rep. Curtis Richardson, (D) Tallahassee, says, "Everybody is really feeling the scrutiny of this whole thing, feeling like you don't want to make a mistake and be the first one that gets written up in the newspaper or have a complaint filed against you."

The ban meant Associated Industries of Florida, which hosts the capital city's traditional welcome back party for legislators, had to cut back on a few costs and then charge a $28 entry fee for legislators. Regardless, it didn't stop the annual party.

Barney Bishop, President of Associated Industries, says, "Our purpose, quite frankly, to show that you could do this under the law and do it right and still have a good time."

Bishop says he hopes other associations and groups will go forward with their event plans, saying they can be done within the law even if there are still a few questions at the capital.

We spoke to another lobbyist with A-American lobbyist group. He said he welcomes the gift ban, hoping that it will restore the public's perception of lobbyists.