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Legislative Bill on Freebies

By: Victoria Langley
By: Victoria Langley

The bill signed by Jeb Bush gives Florida one of the toughest ethics laws in the country.

The new rules ban lobbyists and their special-interest clients from wining and dining lawmakers and lavishing them with gifts to try to influence legislation in Tallahassee.

But is the average person really going to notice anything different under the new law? Even the legislators who supported it say no, but they hope to at least change public perception.

“No more drinks, no more gifts, no more trips, zero tolerance.”

But what about credit cards provided by the Democratic and Republican parties of Florida, like the one Senate President Tom Lee showed us? Lobbyists can still get around the rules by pumping money into the parties, and lawmakers can charge meals and hotel stays that way.

But Lee, who says he just uses his card for party business, says he’s okay with tighter reporting requirements.

Lee says, “If there’s any evidence that the party credit cards have been abused, I don’t have a problem with that.”

You’ll now also be able to follow the money trail a little easier. The dark-suited lobbyists who line the Capitol corridors will now have to report exactly how much they’re paid to peddle their influence.


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