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Tallahassee commissioners want those who lobby them to register. But should that carry a fee?

Exterior of Tallahassee City Hall
Craig Moore
WFSU Public Media
Commissioners want to streamline the process for lobbyist registration in the city.

Tallahassee commissioners want to make sure anyone who gets paid to lobby them also registers as a lobbyist. During a Wednesday meeting commissioners OK'd a series of changes to streamline the process but found one sticking point—registration fees.

Commissioner Dianne Williams Cox thinks the $25 fee the city currently charges for lobbyist registration isn’t enough.

“I’d like to add a zero at the end," Williams Cox said during Wednesday's city commission meeting.

Williams Cox says right now, the fee is so minimal it can’t cover the administrative costs to collect it.

“If a person is making $15 per hour and they’re collecting fees and you’ve got somebody that’s got to do something with it, it’s going to add up," Williams Cox said. "I was in favor of it being greater than $25. If it’s not going to be greater than $25, then I don’t see why we would bother to try to collect it.”

Commissioner Jeremy Matlow says he’s hesitant to increase the cost. He says the goal is to create transparency so that the public knows who is lobbying the commission.

“I don’t want to get into a situation where people are using a fee as an excuse not to register," Matlow said. "Because what we want people to know is if you’re doing any kind of paid lobbying, if you’re getting paid $50 to come and lobby the commission, we want to know and have you sign up and register.”

City staff told commissioners most comparable cities charge no fee or a low fee between $10 and $50. Leon county currently charges $25. Commissioners asked staff to bring the issue back as an agenda for a future discussion.

Follow @Regan_McCarthy

Regan McCarthy is the Assistant News Director for WFSU Public Media. Before coming to Tallahassee, Regan graduated with honors from Indiana University’s Ernie Pyle School of Journalism. She worked for several years for NPR member station WFIU in Bloomington, Ind., where she covered local and state government and produced feature and community stories.

Phone: (850) 645-6090 | rmccarthy@fsu.edu

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