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Lawmakers Pay Their Way

By: Ilyssa Trussel
By: Ilyssa Trussel

It's tradition, the eve of the legislative session and lawmakers are out on the town.

But because of a new state law that bans lobbyists from buying drinks, meals and gifts for legislators, the Associated Industries party planners are forced to make some changes.

"There's still gonna be a lot of food, there's just not gonna be a lot of food left over, and depending on whether you notice the ice sculpture or the big video screens," said Associated Industries President Barney Bishop.

One major change at this year's Associated Industries reception is lawmakers digging in their own pockets just to get in the door. The cost is $28 for legislators, legislative employees or anyone who has to file financial disclosure.

"The reality is we want to do it right, we want to do it within the law, we don't want to violate anything," said Bishop.

Although some caterers and lobbyists aren't too happy about the changes, others are hoping it'll restore the public's perception of lobbyists and lawmakers.

"The public of the state of Florida needs to know that nothing inappropriate is taking place. I'd rather pay my way. In my poorest of times I've paid for myself, paid for my lunches, paid for my meals. I don't need anybody to do that," said Sen. Nancy Argenziano of Citrus County.

Although there weren't too many changes at the party Monday night, this new law will change things throughout the session. Basically lobbyists will have to find new ways to network, wow their clients or even get their phone calls returned.

If the law is violated, there could be fines or penalties like having licenses suspended.


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