MIAMI – A new Florida law is forcing some public officials to choose between their day jobs or holding office.
The measure, which took effect over the weekend, prohibits public officials from working as lobbyists while holding public office. It also bars state and local elected officials from lobbying their state agencies or offices for six years after leaving office, up from a previous two-year ban.
The new law already has forced some public officials to resign. Among them are a Miami Shores council member and a board member of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, according to the Miami Herald.
The law implemented a state constitutional amendment that was approved by Florida voters in 2018.
Five elected officials in Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Leon counties have challenged the new law in a federal lawsuit, but the judge in the case last week denied a request to temporarily block the law from going into effect until the court could rule on its legality.
In their lawsuit, the public officials said that lobbying is part of the democratic process and facilitates the exchange of information between public officials and the people they represent.
“It is for this very reason that the First Amendment of the United States Constitution expressly protects the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances, along with the rights to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly,” the lawsuit said.