Jacksonville ethics commission to meet about bills that could impact operations

On Monday, the Jacksonville Ethics Commission will hold a special meeting regarding a Senate and House bill that will potentially impact how the Ethics Commission operates.

If Senate Bill 7014 and House Bill 1597 move forward, the ethics committee members will no longer be able to initiate independent investigations. The committee would also face stricter penalties for ethics violations.

SB 7014 already passed unanimously on Feb. 1, while HB 1597 is still under review. Both bills prohibit committee members from serving more than two terms, but each bill is slightly different.

SB 7014 prevents members from launching self-initiating independent investigations. It also inhibits accusations and complaints based on hearsay and requires complaints to be signed under oath. This means that a committee member would have to put their name and reputation on the line for any complaint they’ve issued.

HB 1597 increases fines for violations of codes of ethics. It also revises timeframes for investigation and reports of complaints from the committee.

Former Jacksonville city council member, Matt Carlucci released a statement condemning the legislation.

It is beyond disappointing—it’s infuriating—to see the legislative bodies we trusted to protect and serve the public interest now orchestrating efforts to erode the very mechanisms designed to ensure accountability and transparency…I am appalled by this regressive maneuver and the potential it has to undo decades of progress in ethical oversight….We must rally together to oppose this legislation, reaffirming our commitment to ethics, integrity, and the public trust that forms the bedrock of our democracy.”

Matt Carlucci

Mayor Donna Deegan responded to the former councilman’s statement and her overall thoughts on the bills.

“I think it’s important to have more transparency, not less,” Deegan said. “So, I appreciate Matt’s comments and I think that’s been right in line with what Matt has been saying for years and years. And he’s right, I would not like to see us diminish our ethics rules. I’d like to see them strengthened.”

Jacksonville’s Ethics Commission will discuss both bills Monday at 4 p.m. at city hall.

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