Update: January 22, 2014
Yesterday, the Broward Bulldog,
in Broward County, FL (home of Ft.
Lauderdale), published an
excellent investigative report on the lack of lobbying laws
Florida's 992 independent special districts, which together spend
many billions of dollars of taxpayer money every year. These special districts
do everything from water management, mosquito control, and community
development to running public hospitals, ports, and airports. They
include both local and regional districts. One Florida county has 83
independent special districts.
The larger districts enter into contracts and other transactions for many millions of
dollars a year, and deal with lobbyists frequently. And yet the state does not
require them to have lobbying laws. The state doesn't require this
of any local governments, although many of them do have such laws.
But these laws do not apply to independent special districts, only to
dependent ones, such as community redevelopment agencies. Of the
38 independent districts with annual budgets in excess of $50
million, only 3 reported having some form of lobbyist regulation;
another prohibits lobbying in its bylaws. The other 34, without
lobbying regulation, have cumulative annual spending of $7.1
billion. Of the 7 districts that levy the most property taxes each
year, only 1 provides for lobbying registration. It does so by
voluntarily following the county's lobbying law and asking lobbyists
to register there.