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Gelber pushes constitutional amendment to stop secret budget deals

by Dara Kam | September 10th, 2009

State Sen. Dan Gelber is pushing a constitutional amendment aimed at cracking down on the kind of secret budget deals that got former House Speaker Ray Sansom in trouble.

Gelber, who is running against Sen. Dave Aronberg of Greenacres in a Democratic primary for state attorney general, and Rep. Keith Fitzgerald, D-Sarasota, want lawmakers to put the constitutional amendment on next year’s November ballot.

The amendment would require that appropriations bills be written in plain language and that all budget conference meetings between two or more lawmakers be conducted in a publicly noticed meeting.

The state budget is usually crafted in a much different manner, going through a series of conference committees until the Senate President and the House Speaker ultimately resolve their differences behind closed doors.

In Sansom’s case, he was the House budget chairman when he slipped in a $6 million item to build an airport at a college where he later became a high-paid executive on the day he was annointed Speaker.

Sansom, Okaloosa County developer Jay Odom and former Northwest Florida State College President Bob Richburg have been indicted on official misconduct charges regarding the airport.

Sansom and Richburg each face an additional perjury charge for allegedly lying to a Leon County grand jury. They are scheduled to stand trial at the end of this month.

Gelber’s proposed amendment would also:
- Bar bills from being amended on the floor during the last five days of session unless passed by a three-fourths vote;
- Give courts more leeway to hear challenges to open records laws to make it harder for lawmakers to reject open records requests.

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3 Responses to “Gelber pushes constitutional amendment to stop secret budget deals”

  1. This makes sense Says:

    No reason for secret meetings with the Public’s Business unless they are up to no good.

    This makes common sense.

    Wish it would pass. Too honest.

    It will be radioactive to today’s corrupt politicians unfortunately.


  2. Lisa Says:

    Wow, Gelber wants a more open government? Start by coming clean yourself Dan !
    In this case Attorney General ( AG ) should stand for “Anybody but Gelber!” Search Gelber news stories on illegal contributions, taxpayer funded lobbist jet rides, and why Senate run first but now AG! Read these news reports:

    Gelber takes a ride on corporate lobbist jets at taxpayer expense:

    Video clip of Gelber on why he started to run for Senate and then quit to run for AG:

    Gelber gets illegal cash for campaign:
    Illegal cash went to many officials By Gary Fineout 8/20/2009 Health News Florida
    WellCare Health Plans gave illegal campaign contributions to dozens of Florida’s legislators and top officials. WellCare acknowledged that it broke the law two ways: by making contributions that exceeded legal limits, and by donating money in someone else’s name. The 11-page consent order between WellCare and the elections commission states that WellCare donated more than $1 million to campaigns between 2003 and 2007. Scores of legislators took in illegal contributions, including Sen. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach, who is now a candidate for attorney general. During the time it was making the donations, WellCare was pushing for changes to state law. The legislature passed the measure WellCare wanted in 2007, but it was vetoed by Gov. Charlie Crist, whose name was not included in the list of donations.

  3. Bo Mullen Says:

    Obama and career politicians are ruining this country and who is to blame? We are, we elect these people. And they sit in the ivory tower because once elected their machines see that they stay for life. Well you know what, our government is trying to cure everything. It won’t work, what must happen is We the People, must cure of government. In the next six years every incumbent should be sent packing!! Our Constitution protects us, the following is from the Constitution, “when the government acts in a manner that is not in the best interest of the people, the people can remove the government. Well the government sure hasn’t acted in the best interest of the people, is has acted in the best interest of those with the deepest pockets, with their idealogies that don’t match those of the people who elected them. Each and every incumbent over the next six years should be swept out of office, I would recommend we elect people who have never served in Washington, have never dealt with lobbyists, and better yet, never deal with lobbyists, they should go to Washington to do what our constitution says, and that is to represent the people of their districts. More power should be returned to the states. Every state is different, some states are as different two countries may be. This return to state power allows issues to be resolved faster, and not have to worry about being added on to some bill for some other reason. Big Government=Bad Government= WE THE PEOPLE are only bodies.

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