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Governor signs jurists lobbying legislation into law

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Rep. Traci Koster

Rep. Traci Koster

Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed a measure that would implement a 2018 constitutional amendment that bars judges and justices from lobbying for six years after leaving the bench.

The House in February voted 118-0 to approve the measure, HB 7003, by Rep. Traci Koster, R-Safety Harbor. The Senate approved it 38-0 on February 23.

The measure is designed to implement Amendment 12, a government ethics proposal by the Constitution Revision Commission that voters approved by a 79% margin.

Before DeSantis approved the measure, there was no law prohibiting former judges and justices from lobbying. The measure would apply to justices and judges who leave office after December 31, 2022.

The implementing legislation provides a series of definitions and exemptions. Former judges and justices would still be permitted to represent clients in a disciplinary matters initiated by House or Senate committees and appear as a witness at the request of a legislative committee chair. Executive branch lobbying exemptions include “a person representing a client in a judicial proceeding or a formal administrative proceeding under the Administrative Procedures Act,” and, “an employee of an executive branch agency or legislative or judicial branch entity acting in the normal course of his or her duties,” according to a staff analysis.

Violations would be investigated by the Commission on Ethics, which would recommend potential penalties to the governor.

Former judges and justices who violate the lobbying ban could face public censure or reprimand, a civil penalty of up to $10,000, and restitution of the “pecuniary benefit of the prohibited lobbying.”

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