TALLAHASSEE – Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, and State Representative Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero, have filed legislation that will implement more stringent residency requirements for those who hold public office in Florida.
The bill, which will help prevent public officers from living outside of the district they are required to reside in while holding office, and curb the increasing problem of elected officials in Florida claiming to live in one district while actually residing somewhere else.
“The State Constitution requires every legislator in Florida to reside in their legislative districts, and any deviation from that requirement is a compromise of our democratic process and undermines the values that we expect public officers to embody,” said Latvala, who also chairs the Florida Senate Committee on Ethics and Elections. “It’s time to put more effective criteria in place that will ensure that public officials do not manipulate the system and avoid meeting the basic requirements imposed upon them while they serve the taxpayers of this state.”
In addition, Statutes are in place requiring other elected officials at county and city levels who represent specific districts to live in their districts. However, there is no provision in the Florida Statutes that defines what that residency definition is.
The bill’s major provisions include a requirement that a public officer claim only one place as their primary residence at any given time, as well as include a list of factors that a judge would consider if questions arise about whether an official lives in the district that he or she were elected to represent.
“This bill takes an area that has been perceived by some as gray and makes it more clearly defined,” said Rodrigues, “that is a good thing for the hard working tax payers of Florida.”