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Anti-corruption bill advances in House

January 15, 2016

A House committee Thursday gave full backing to an anti-corruption bill. The measure would eliminate two significant barriers to prosecuting bribery, bid rigging and fraud. The legislation is backed by the Florida USA Today Network, which includes FLORIDA TODAY.

The bill expands who can be subject to criminal sanction. It classifies private contractors as “public servants” for the purpose of fighting public corruption. It makes it easier for prosecutors to try and win cases by shifting the burden of proof. Presently, prosecutors have to prove corrupt intent. The bill, if passed, will shift the burden to the defendants knowingly and willingly engaged in illegal conduct.

The bill’s provisions include recommendations from a statewide grand jury on public corruption.

The House Rules, Calendar and Ethics Committee approved the bill by a 19 – 0 vote Thursday. The committee’s chair, Rep. Ritch Workman, R-Melbourne, is carrying the bill in the House. After the vote, a constituent encountered him in the Capitol Courtyard and congratulated him on the unanimous vote.

“They stumbled in the Senate, but you did it right, Ritch,” the man said.

“It was a bi-partisan vote. We did it in a bi-partisan fashion,” responded Workman, as he continued toward the House office building.

A Senate committee killed a companion bill earlier this week with a 3 – 1 no vote. However, sponsor, Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, then inserted the provisions into another bill, which was passed by the Senate Ethics Committee. That proposal now needs to go before the committee that killed the original bill, the Senate Government Oversight Committee.

http://www.floridatoday.com/story/news/politics/2016/01/14/corruption-bill-advances-house/78823974/

Contact James Call at jcall and follow on Twitter @CallTallahassee.

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