The Florida Bar’s legislative policies and procedures are directed by Section 900 of the Standing Board Policies. Section 9.11 defines “voluntary bar group,” “mandatory bar group” and “political” activity. In this process map, “section” is used to mean “voluntary bar group” for ease of understanding.
As used in this series of these policies, the term:
(a) “Voluntary Bar Group” means a group within The Florida Bar funded by voluntary member dues in the current and immediate prior bar fiscal years.
(b) “Mandatory Bar Group” means The Florida Bar and groups within The Florida Bar funded by mandatory member fees in the current or immediate prior bar fiscal years.
(c) “Political” means activity by The Florida Bar or a bar group including, but not limited to, filing a comment in a federal administrative law case, taking a position on an action by an elected or appointed governmental official, appearing before a government entity, submitting comments to a regulatory entity on a regulatory matter, or any type of public commentary on an issue of significant public interest or debate.
Sections that wish to take a position must submit a proposal for legislative or political activity with the Bar’s Office of General Counsel or the executive director.
Determine if Section May Take a Position on a Political or Legislative Matter
- The issue has the potential for deep philosophical or emotional division among a substantial segment of the bar’s membership.
- The issue is within the section’s subject matter jurisdiction (as described in the section’s bylaws),
- The issue is beyond the scope of the bar’s permissible legislative or political activity, or
- The issue is within the bar’s permissible scope of legislative or political activity and the proposed position is consistent with an official bar position on that issue.
Prepare Written Notice
Sections may use a Bar-prepared worksheet to gather required information before submitting an official request for legislative or political activity. The form asks for proposed wording of the legislative position or political proposal, reasons for it, and the names and contact information of those who will speak for the section, appear before House/Senate committees, and have direct contact with legislators.
Circulate Proposal to Interested Bar Entities for Comment
Standing Board Policy 9.50(d) requires sections to contact all divisions, sections, and committees that might be interested in the proposed legislative or political activity. Sections should use the Notice of Position Request to Interested Parties Form template to circulate their proposal for review and comment.
Submit Official Legislative or Political Position Request
This online form asks for the same information as the worksheet, but also requires the list of entities to which the proposal has been circulated. Sections must provide a copy of the proposal to all interested bar divisions, sections and committees before submitting proposals (using the Notice of Position Request to Interested Parties Form); comments can be submitted after when they are received.
At this stage, sections may upload relevant supporting documents, such as the Notice of Position Request to Interested Parties Form, white papers and bill language.
Legislation Committee and Board of Governors Review
- Legislation Committee and Board of Governors review proposals unless expedited decision needed.
- Executive Committee may review if an expedited decision is requested.
- President, president-elect, and chair of the Legislative Committee may review if the legislature is in session, or the executive committee is unable to act.
Action After Approval
- Clearly distinguish that legislative and political activity from the Bar’s;
- Coordinate legislative and political activity with the Bar; and
- Advise the Bar of any representatives who might make direct personal contact with governmental officials to further any position or activity on a legislative or political issue.