The 2018 Florida legislative session began on January 9, and we want to take this opportunity to remind you of our policy regarding representing UF’s interests before Members of the Florida House of Representatives and Florida Senate.
It is important that all UF faculty and staff be aware of the 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 individual employees who communicate with legislators or their staff.
Communication with the Legislature and Lobbying on behalf of UF or in a UF capacity
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 course of action without violating applicable laws or rules, and putting the employee or the University at risk.
Any UF employee who contacts a member or staff person of the Florida Legislature to request funding or to advocate for or against legislation involving or on behalf of the University MUST have approval from the Vice President for University Relations and 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 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 several 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 remind you that UF has a policy regarding contacts with legislators and their staffs and to contact University Relations with any questions.
This policy extends to contacts with the Florida House Members and staff, as well as Florida Senate and staff 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.
Communication with the Legislature or staff in a personal (non-UF) capacity
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 university’s policies on outside activities and conflicts of interest do govern such activities. Any request to lobby in your individual capacity, must be submitted to your department chair or unit supervisor, who will decide whether or not to approve such a request based on the time, resource and conflicts factors. Should such a request be approved, the individual employee should seek private professional advice on how to comply with state and federal laws and regulations pertaining to individual lobbying.
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
Mary Ann Hooks, Director IFAS Governmental Affairs