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Incoming Speaker: Lobbying Reforms More Than Cosmetic

Florida’s professional lobbying corps is bracing for tough new restrictions as House Speaker designate Richard Corcoran, a Lutz Republican, prepares to assume command.

Corcoran serves as House budget chief but soon after Election Day he’ll be sworn in as the next Speaker. When he says reforms are going to be more than superficial, lobbyists take him seriously.

For example, Corcoran recently said he wants lobbyists to publicly document their first-time meetings with House members and attach their names to the legislation they’re trying to sway. Florida Association of Professional Lobbyists chairman Dave Mica says he’s reserving judgment until Thursday, when Corcoran is expected to unveil the proposed rules.

“Most, if not all, folks who practice this profession, wouldn’t mind others knowing who they’re meeting with, but some may. There may be some who want to maintain the existing levels of privacy.”

Mica wrote Corcoran a letter offering industry input into the reforms, but Mica says he’s yet to hear back. Common Cause lobbyist Ben Wilcox says reformers are encouraged by Corcoran’s comments.

“He’s seen from the inside what the problems are and he’s going to address them during his time as Speaker.”

Whatever he proposes, Corcoran can expect push back. Lobbyists fought an unsuccessful court battle over a 2005 gift ban that prevents lawmakers from taking so much as a cup of coffee.

A Miami native, former WFSU reporter Jim Ash is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years of experience, most of it in print. He has been a member of the Florida Capital Press Corps since 1992.