On Monday, the Jacksonville Ethics Commission will convene a special meeting to address the potential implications of Senate Bill 7014 and House Bill 1597 on the operations of the Ethics Commission.
Senate Bill 7014, which passed unanimously on Feb. 1, and House Bill 1597, currently under review, propose significant changes that could alter the way the ethics committee functions. One notable provision is the restriction on the committee members’ ability to initiate independent investigations. Additionally, both bills introduce stricter penalties for ethics violations.
Under SB 7014, committee members would be prohibited from launching self-initiated independent investigations, and complaints would need to be signed under oath, discouraging accusations based on hearsay. On the other hand, HB 1597 focuses on increasing fines for ethics violations and revising timeframes for investigations and reports of complaints by the committee.
Jacksonville city council member Matt Carlucci expressed strong opposition to the proposed legislation, denouncing it as regressive and potentially detrimental to decades of progress in ethical oversight. Carlucci emphasized the importance of accountability and transparency in upholding the public trust.
Mayor Donna Deegan echoed Carlucci’s sentiments, emphasizing the need for greater transparency and expressing her support for maintaining and strengthening ethics rules. Deegan affirmed her commitment to upholding ethical standards and protecting the integrity of democratic processes.
The Jacksonville Ethics Commission will deliberate on both bills during the special meeting scheduled for Monday at 4 p.m. at city hall. The outcome of these discussions will have far-reaching implications for ethical oversight and governance in Jacksonville.