Miami-Dade Legislative Item
File Number: 120354
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File Number: 120354 File Type: Ordinance Status: Adopted
Version: 0 Reference: 12-10 Control: Board of County Commissioners
File Name: LOBBYISTS TO COMPLETE ETHICS COURSE Introduced: 2/24/2012
Requester: NONE Cost: Final Action: 3/6/2012
Agenda Date: 3/6/2012 Agenda Item Number: 7B
Notes: 6WKS/4WKS Title: ORDINANCE RELATING TO CONFLICT OF INTEREST AND CODE OF ETHICS ORDINANCE; AMENDING SECTION 2-11.1(S) OF THE CODE OF MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA, TO REQUIRE LOBBYISTS TO COMPLETE ETHICS COURSE WITHIN SPECIFIED TIME PERIODS; PROVIDING FOR FEE, SEVERABILITY, INCLUSION IN THE CODE AND AN EFFECTIVE DATE (SEE ORIGINAL ITEM UNDER FILE NO. 112572)
Indexes: ETHICS COMMISSION
  LOBBYISTS
Sponsors: Lynda Bell, Prime Sponsor
  Jose "Pepe" Diaz, Co-Sponsor
  Rebeca Sosa, Co-Sponsor
Sunset Provision: No Effective Date: Expiration Date:
Registered Lobbyist: None Listed


Legislative History

Acting Body Date Agenda Item Action Sent To Due Date Returned Pass/Fail

Board of County Commissioners 3/6/2012 7B Adopted P
REPORT: First Assistant County Attorney Abigail Price-Williams read Agenda Items 7B and 7C into the record simultaneously. It was moved by Commissioner Bell that the foregoing proposed ordinances be adopted as presented. This motion was seconded by Commissioner Sosa, followed by discussion. Commissioner Heyman addressed the issue of increasing costs for the County and asked whether the ethics course currently available online would satisfy the new requirements. Mr. Joseph Centorino, Executive Director, Commission on Ethics (COE), confirmed that employees would have this option and that an online component would be necessary in order for all County employees to complete the required training. Commissioner Heyman expressed concern that this requirement would take effect in 60 days and cause some registered lobbyists outside of this County to have to come here to comply. She asked what steps were being taken to launch the online training component. Mr. Centorino indicated that the lobbyists’ training would initially have to be conducted on site as it would not be available online within 60 days. However, he observed that the City of Miami had implemented online lobbyists’ training for the past two years and said he did not anticipate any problems with this training. Commissioner Heyman asked if the date for implementing this requirement could be delayed pending development of the online component for those lobbyists who were not based locally. She questioned the Administration’s capability to launch the online component for County employees to complete the required training as reflected in Item 7C of today’s agenda. Commissioner Heyman stated she believed that it was unrealistic to implement this requirement within 60 days without having the technology in place. Chairman Martinez inquired whether this requirement applied to State lobbyists. Assistant County Attorney Gerald Sanchez advised that this course only applied to County lobbyists who would have to complete it within 60 days after registering. He added that registrations generally occurred on January 15th of each year; therefore, lobbyists currently registered would take the course in January 2013. Mr. Centorino explained that lobbyists who registered before the course was available online would need to complete the training on site. Commissioner Jordan observed that Item 7C concerned refresher courses and noted she believed that the Internal Services Department currently provided such courses. Ms. Mary Lou Rizzo, Assistant Director, Internal Services Department, clarified that new employees are required to take the Ethics Awareness training course as part of the new employee orientation process. She noted the content for the course was provided by the Commission on Ethics and the actual training was provided online. Ms. Rizzo explained that after completing the new employee orientation, the employee must access the Ethics Awareness course online and obtain a passing score. She pointed out that the proposed ordinance would require that employees take the Ethics Awareness training course more frequently than in the past. Pursuant to Commissioner Jordan’s question regarding the financial impact of the proposed ordinance, Mr. Centorino noted any additional costs associated with increasing the training frequency would be absorbed by the COE, rather than the respective departments. Commissioner Diaz noted he agreed with the proposed requirement that the course be taken more frequently; however, he expressed concern with the financial impact associated with implementing the required training for lobbyists and inquired whether the necessary technology was available for this training to be conducted online. Mr. Centorino noted lobbyists currently paid $100 for the training, which could be provided in-person immediately. He noted he anticipated the online course being available in the foreseeable future and being accommodated within the existing COE budget. He explained that he intended to enhance the existing online course and include an audio component. Commissioner Sosa noted she wanted to ensure that this legislation would not impact existing policy mandating that employees directly involved with procurement activities complete ethics training annually. Mr. Lester Sola, Director, Internal Services Department, confirmed that the policy for employees directly involved with procurement activities would continue unchanged. Commissioner Bell noted the foregoing legislation was more detailed and thorough than the existing policy, and was needed. She indicated that the COE would have the option of delivering the training in person or online, and upon completing the training the employees would receive a certificate. Hearing no further questions or comments, the Board proceeded to vote on the proposed ordinances, as presented.

County Attorney 2/24/2012 Assigned Gerald K. Sanchez

Internal Mgmt. & Fiscal Responsibility Committee 2/14/2012 1F1 AMENDED Forwarded to BCC with a favorable recommendation with committee amendment(s) P
REPORT: Assistant County Attorney Oren Rosenthal read the foregoing proposed ordinance into the record. Assistant County Attorney Rosenthal proceeded to read two amendments to the proposed ordinance into the record. Chairwoman Bell relinquished the chair to Commissioner Edmonson. It was moved by Commissioner Bell that the foregoing proposed ordinance be forwarded to the County Commission with a favorable recommendation, with Committee amendment(s). This motion was seconded by Commissioner Diaz. Acting Chairwoman Edmonson opened the public hearing and called for persons wishing to appear before the Committee in connection with this proposed ordinance. Ms. Truly Burton, Executive Vice President and Governmental Affairs Director, Builders Association of South Florida, noted she agreed with the proposed amendments and she had already completed the proposed Ethics Course. Mr. Joseph Centorino, Executive Director, Commission on Ethics and Public Trust (CEPT), noted the proposed ordinance would be a good addition to the existing ethics ordinance and the CEPT was prepared to implement its provisions. After hearing no one further wishing to speak, Acting Chairwoman Edmonson closed the public hearing. Commissioner Diaz noted ethics training was extremely important; however, questioned the enforcement provisions should a lobbyist not satisfy the requirements. Assistant County Attorney Rosenthal responded that anyone who did not comply with the provisions would be in violation of the ethics ordinance. He noted any general violation of the proposed ordinance would be punishable by either a fine and/or time in jail, as well as by specific provisions in the existing ethics ordinance for violation of that ordinance. Commissioner Diaz questioned whether these provisions could be included within the language contained in the foregoing proposed ordinance. Mr. Centorino responded that a lobbyist could not register with the County unless he/she received a Certificate of Completion. Commissioner Bell noted that individuals could not lobby unless they registered. Commissioner Diaz noted previous issues pertaining to lobbyists not registering in a timely manner, yet continuing to conduct business. Assistant County Attorney Rosenthal clarified the penalty provision of the conflict of interest ordinance and the ethics ordinance. He noted anyone the CEPT found to be in violation of this section would be in violation of the ethics ordinance and subject to admonition, public reprimand, a $500 fine for the first violation, and $1,000 for each subsequent violation. Assistant County Attorney Rosenthal noted an additional provision allowing the State Attorney to proceed with prosecution, including a $500 fine and up to 30 days in jail for violation of the ethics ordinance should they fail to meet the provisions of this section. Commissioner Diaz suggested that the CEPT Executive Director should be able to suspend lobbyist privileges after a lobbyist was found to be in violation of the ordinance. He asked to be listed as a co-sponsor to the foregoing proposed ordinance. Commissioner Jordan inquired whether the proposed ordinance required registration every two years and whether the lobbyist registration would be revoked for failure to comply with its provisions. Assistant County Attorney Rosenthal explained that the ordinance requires lobbyists to complete an Ethics Course and to submit a Certificate of Completion to the Clerk of the Board within 60 days of registering as a lobbyist. He further explained that all registered lobbyists must complete a refresher Ethics Course every two years. Assistant County Attorney Rosenthal said failure to comply with these requirements would be a violation of the ordinance. Commissioner Bell noted she was very satisfied with the language contained within the proposed ordinance. She said this proposal was drafted in conjunction with the CEPT and the County Attorney’s Office and sufficient protections and punitive measures were included in the proposed language. Commissioner Bell noted that any future issues could be addressed by the Board when they arise. Commissioner Diaz reiterated his concern about previous issues related to lobbyists’ registrations and adherence to the established rules. He noted that the enforcement provisions were not sufficient. Commissioner Bell noted she fully understood lobbyist activities considering her eight years of government experience and was satisfied with the ordinance as proposed. Hearing no further questions or comments, the Committee proceeded to vote on the foregoing proposed ordinance as amended. The foregoing proposed ordinance was forwarded to the County Commission with a favorable recommendation, with Committee amendment(s) to add language to the end of Subparagraph (d) on handwritten page 6 as follows: “The requirements of this Subsection (s) related to the Ethics Course shall not be applicable to any municipal lobbyists in Miami-Dade County unless said municipality has adopted an ordinance providing for ethics training of lobbyists and has entered into an Interlocal Agreement with the County authorizing the Ethics Commission to provide the ethics training provided for in this Subsection; and The Executive Director of the Ethics Commission may waive the Ethics Course requirement for a particular lobbyist when he/she determines that the lobbyist has taken an initial or a refresher ethics course offered by a municipality which satisfies the requirements of this Subsection.” Chairwoman Bell resumed the chair.

Legislative Text


TITLE
ORDINANCE RELATING TO CONFLICT OF INTEREST AND CODE OF ETHICS ORDINANCE; AMENDING SECTION 2-11.1(S) OF THE CODE OF MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA, TO REQUIRE LOBBYISTS TO COMPLETE ETHICS COURSE WITHIN SPECIFIED TIME PERIODS; PROVIDING FOR FEE, SEVERABILITY, INCLUSION IN THE CODE AND AN EFFECTIVE DATE

BODY
BE IT ORDAINED BY THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA:
Section 1. Section 2-11.1 of the Code of Miami-Dade County, Florida, is hereby amended to read as follows:1
Sec 2-11.1. Conflict of Interest and Code of Ethics Ordinance.

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(s) Lobbying.
(1)(a) As used in this section, "County personnel" means those County officers and employees specified in Section 2-11.1(i)(2) of the Miami-Dade County Conflict of Interest and Code of Ethics Ordinance.
(b) As used in this section, "Lobbyist" means all persons, firms, or corporations employed or retained by a principal who seeks to encourage the passage, defeat, or modifications of (1) ordinance, resolution, action or decision of the County Commission; (2) any action, decision, recommendation of the County Manager or any County board or committee; or (3) any action, decision or recommendation of County personnel during the time period of the entire decision-making process on such action, decision or recommendation which foreseeably will be heard or reviewed by the County Commission, or a County board or committee. "Lobbyist" specifically includes the principal as well as any employee whose normal scope of employment includes lobbying activities. The term "Lobbyist" specifically excludes the following persons: attorneys or other representatives retained or employed solely for the purpose of representing individuals, corporations or other entities during publicly noticed quasi-judicial proceedings where the law prohibits ex-parte communications; expert witnesses who provide only scientific, technical or other specialized information or testimony in public meetings; any person who only appears as a representative of a neighborhood association without compensation or reimbursement for the appearance, whether direct, indirect or contingent, to express support of or opposition to any item; any person who only appears as a representative of a not-for-profit community based organization for the purpose of requesting a grant without special compensation or reimbursement for the appearance; and employees of a principal whose normal scope of employment does not include lobbying activities.
(2) All lobbyists shall register with the Clerk of the Board of County Commissioners within five (5) business days of being retained as a lobbyist or before engaging in any lobbying activities, whichever shall come first. Every person required to so register shall:
(a) Register on forms prepared by the Clerk;
(b) State under oath his or her name, business address and the name and business address of each person or entity which has employed said registrant to lobby. If the lobbyist represents a corporation, the corporation shall also be identified. Without limiting the foregoing, the lobbyist shall also identify all persons holding, directly or indirectly, a five (5) percent or more ownership interest in such corporation, partnership, or trust. Registration of all lobbyists shall be required prior to January 15 of each year and each person who withdraws as a lobbyist for a particular client shall file an appropriate notice of withdrawal. The fee for annual registration shall be four hundred and ninety dollars ($490.00). Every registrant shall be required to state the extent of any business or professional relationship with any current person described in subsection (b)(1). The registration fees required by this subsection shall be deposited by the Clerk into a separate account and shall be expended for the purpose of recording, transcribing, administration and other costs incurred in maintaining these records for availability to the public. Notwithstanding the foregoing, fifteen (15) percent of future funds generated by lobbyist registration fees after the effective date of this ordinance shall be deposited into a separate account, and shall be expended by the Ethics Commission for the purposes of educational outreach, the rendering of advisory opinions and enforcement of the provisions of Section 211.1(s) relating to lobbyists. There shall be no fee required for filing a notice of withdrawal and the Board of County Commissioners may, in its discretion, waive the registration fee upon a finding of financial hardship.
(c) Prior to conducting any lobbying, all principals must file a form with the Clerk of the Board of County Commissioners, signed by the principal or the principal's representative, stating that the lobbyist is authorized to represent the principal. The principal and the lobbyist must also submit a joint affidavit stating that the principal has not offered and the lobbyist has not agreed to accept any contingency or success fees as defined in subsection (s)(7). Failure of a principal to file the required forms may be considered in the evaluation of a bid or proposal as evidence that a proposer or bidder is not a responsible contractor. Each principal shall file a form with the Clerk of the Board at the point in time at which a lobbyist is no longer authorized to represent the principal.
>>(d) Each lobbyist shall, within sixty (60) days after registering as a lobbyist, submit to the Clerk of the Board a certificate of completion of an ethics course offered by the Miami-Dade County Commission on Ethics and Public Trust (“Ethics Course”). Lobbyists who have completed the initial Ethics Course mandated by the preceding sentence and have continuously registered as a lobbyist thereafter shall be required to complete a refresher Ethics Course every two years. Each lobbyist who has completed a refresher Ethics Course shall submit to the Clerk of the Board a certificate of completion within sixty (60) days after registering as a lobbyist. The Ethics Course shall include, but not be limited to, a review of the following topics: the Conflict of Interest and Code of Ethics Ordinance; the Sunshine Law; and the Public Records Law. The fee for the Ethics Course shall be $100.00. The registration fees required by this subsection shall be deposited into a separate account, and shall be expended by the Ethics Commission for Ethics Courses and related costs.<<>> The requirements of this subsection relating to the Ethics Course shall not be applicable to any municipal lobbyist in Miami-Dade County unless said municipality has adopted an ordinance providing for ethics training of lobbyists, and has entered into an interlocal agreement with the County authorizing the Ethics Commission to provide the Ethics Course provided for in this subsection. The Executive Director of the Ethics Commission may waive the Ethics Course requirement for a particular lobbyist when he or she determines that the lobbyist has taken an initial or refresher Ethics Course offered by a municipality which satisfies the requirements of this subsection.<<2

* * *

Section 2. If any section, subsection, sentence, clause or provision of this ordinance is held invalid, the remainder of this ordinance shall not be affected by such invalidity.
Section 3. It is the intention of the Board of County Commissioners, and it is hereby ordained that the provisions of this ordinance, including any sunset provision, shall become and be made a part of the Code of Miami-Dade County, Florida. The sections of this ordinance may be renumbered or relettered to accomplish such intention, and the word "ordinance" may be changed to "section," "article," or other appropriate word.
Section 4. This ordinance shall become effective ten (10) days after the date of enactment unless vetoed by the Mayor, and if vetoed, shall become effective only upon an override by this Board.


1 Words stricken through and/or [[double bracketed]] shall be deleted. Words underscored and/or >>double arrowed<< constitute the amendment proposed. Remaining provisions are now in effect and remain unchanged.
2 Committee amendments are indicated as follows: words double stricken through and/or [[double bracketed]] shall be deleted, words double underlined and/or >>double arrowed<< constitute the amendment proposed.



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