Thursday, September 24, 2009

Gelber/Fitzgerald Announce Constitutional Amendment To Provide Greater Sunshine and Accountability Into the Legislative Process

From the Senate Dems:

Today, State Senator Dan Gelber (D-Miami Beach) and State Representative Keith Fitzgerald (D-Sarasota) announced they will be asking the legislature to put a constitutional amendment on the 2010 ballot designed to make the state budget process more transparent and open to the public.

The amendment includes the following key provisions:

· Appropriations bills must be written in plain language, so Floridians can clearly understand where their money will be spent, and what revenue will pay for it.
· Requires all conference committee business between two or more members to be conducted in a noticed public meeting.

“Too much of the people’s business is done without public oversight,” said Sen. Gelber. “It’s time for the Florida Legislature to apply greater transparency to its own deliberations.”

The proposal will also address the growing problem of the openness of the overall legislative process. In addition to the key budget provisions, the amendment will provide two key components designed to make the legislature more open:

· Prohibiting floor amendments to proposed bills in the last five days of a regular session or anytime during a special session, unless they are passed by a three-fourths vote.
· Giving circuit court clear authority to hear challenges pertaining to open records and creates a “reasonableness standard” for open records in order to make it harder for the legislature to reject open records requests.

“Floridians have a right to hold their legislators accountable and this constitutional amendment aims to restore faith in the legislative process,” said Rep. Fitzgerald. “We must throw open the doors of the legislature to shine the light of day on the people’s business.”

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