2017 Lobbying Policy

Published: February 27th, 2017

Category: Memos

Jane Adams, Vice President, University Relations

The 2017 Florida legislative session will begin on March 7, and there are new rules that will change the way we represent the University of Florida’s interests before members of the Florida House of Representatives and the Florida Senate.

It is important that all UF faculty and staff be aware of the existing, as well as new laws and rules that govern their communication with elected officials and their staffs. These include important restrictions on lobbying activity that, if violated, may result in significant penalties for the University of Florida and for employees who communicate with legislators or their staff.

Any UF employee who contacts a member or staff person of the Florida Legislature to request funding or advocate for or against legislation involving the university MUST register as a lobbyist. This requirement applies whether the contact is oral, written or electronic. An employee who simply provides information to a legislator (and does not advocate for or against a position or funding) does not need to register as a lobbyist. In addition, the Florida House has imposed a new rule that requires UF employees to file an electronic issue disclosure form with the House when they lobby a member or staff member of the Florida House of Representatives.

There are also several additional scenarios in which UF faculty or staff members may interact with the Florida Legislature that do not fall into the categories of asking for funding or advocating a position on an issue. For example, UF employees may be contacted by legislators who ask them to testify before a committee. The statutes and rules that apply to these interactions are complicated and vary according to circumstances.
In order to avoid unintentional violations of the statute and rules, which could result in a two-year suspension from lobbying the Florida House, we are putting into place a new UF policy regarding contacts with legislators and their staffs.

Effective immediately, any UF employee who wants to communicate with a member of the Florida Legislature or a staff person to advocate for a position, or to testify at a legislative hearing, must first contact University Relations. The exception is IFAS faculty, who should contact their lobby team. The contacts are below. We will work with each employee to determine the best way to pursue his/her objective without violating applicable laws or rules, and putting the employee and the university at risk.

While the new rules are confined to the House of Representatives, our policy extends to contacts with State Senators and staff, as well, due to statutes that apply to all legislative contacts. Coordination between the university’s advocacy efforts in the House and the Senate is critically important to our success.

This university policy does not apply to faculty and staff who wish to lobby a legislator on a personal matter or express an opinion on an issue in their personal capacity, on their personal time. Please be reminded, however, that the law states this must not be done during business hours or when using university resources, including a university computer.

Thank you for your cooperation in our effort to comply with state statutes and legislative rules. If you have questions, please contact one of the following:

Jane Adams, Vice President University Relations
Marion Hoffmann, Associate Vice President Government Relations
Melissa Orth, Senior Director Government Relations

For IFAS faculty and staff:
Jeanna Mastrodicasa, Associate Vice President for Agriculture & Natural Resources
Mary Ann Gosa Hooks, Director IFAS Government Affairs

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