TAMPA, Fla. — Amendment 12 focuses on “ethics in government.” If approved, the ballot question would expand restrictions to public officers who want to leave office and lobby the government.
FAST FACTS ON AMENDMENT 12
- “Public officers” must wait 6 years after leaving office to get paid for lobbying state government.
- Currently, state elected officials must wait 2 years after leaving office before receiving compensation for lobbying the legislature.
- Amendment 12 also prohibits public officers from becoming paid lobbyists while in office.
What does Amendment 12 do?
Amendment 12 would make most public officials wait six years before becoming a paid lobbyist.
- Officials in charge of statewide agencies (i.e. FDLE, DCF, Dept. of Health, etc.)
- Statewide elected officials (i.e. governor, chief financial officer, etc.)
- Florida House representatives and Florida senators
- Officials elected to local offices
- Former judges
As of right now, an official only has to wait two years after leaving office, and the ban only applies to the agency of government body that person served with. The current ban also only affects the state government. This ban would affect more government offices as well.
Amendment 12 also bans public officers from using their office for a “disproportionate benefit” for themselves, their relatives or businesses. If the amendment is approved, “disproportionate benefit” will later be defined by Florida’s Commission on Ethics. The Commission will also determine penalties for those who violate the law.
Who supports Amendment 12?
The amendment was put on the ballot by the Florida Constitution Revision Commission after the Florida Legislature attempted to reform lobbying. The CRC meets every 20 years to create amendments for Floridians to vote on.
The legislature failed to pass new lobbying regulations during the 2018 session.
The ballot question was largely supported by former Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville.
Who opposes Amendment 12?
Opponents say they do not believe lobbying regulations (and many other issues) need to be added to the Florida Constitution.
The Florida Chamber of Commerce is against the amendment.
The League of Women Voters is not taking an official position on the amendment, though they believe the amendment does not address the real issue of money in political campaigns.
State Representative Wengay Newton, D-St. Petersburg, approved putting the measure on the ballot. However, he says he will likely vote against it.
“I don’t think the constitution is the way to change this,” Newton said. “We can do this in the legislature.”
Amendment 12 needs 60 percent of voter support to pass. If approved, the amendment would take affect by the end of 2022.