Florida Senate - 2019 CS for SB 58 By the Committee on Judiciary; and Senator Book 590-01174-19 201958c1 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act relating to contempt and disorderly conduct 3 before a legislative committee; amending s. 11.143, 4 F.S.; conforming a provision to changes made by the 5 act; creating s. 11.1435, F.S.; prohibiting a person, 6 including a member of the Legislature, from engaging 7 in disorderly or contemptuous conduct; specifying 8 applicable penalties, including fines and 9 imprisonment; providing a procedure for investigating 10 and punishing disorderly or contemptuous conduct while 11 the Legislature is in session; providing that the 12 procedures apply in the absence of certain legislative 13 rules; providing an effective date. 14 15 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 16 17 Section 1. Section 11.143, Florida Statutes, is amended to 18 read: 19 11.143 Standing or select committees; powers.— 20 (1) Each standing or select committee, or subcommittee 21 thereof, is authorized to invite public officials and employees 22 and private individuals to appear before the committee for the 23 purpose of submitting information to it. Each such committee is 24 authorized to maintain a continuous review of the work of the 25 state agencies concerned with its subject area and the 26 performance of the functions of government within each such 27 subject area and for this purpose to request reports from time 28 to time, in such form as the committee designates, concerning 29 the operation of any state agency and presenting any proposal or 30 recommendation such agency may have with regard to existing laws 31 or proposed legislation in its subject area. 32 (2) In order to carry out its duties, each such committee 33 is empowered with the right and authority to inspect and 34 investigate the books, records, papers, documents, data, 35 operation, and physical plant of any public agency in this 36 state, including any confidential information. 37 (3)(a) In order to carry out its duties, each such 38 committee, whenever required, may issue subpoena and other 39 necessary process to compel the attendance of witnesses before 40 such committee, and the chair thereof shall issue the process on 41 behalf of the committee, in accordance with the rules of the 42 respective house. The chair or any other member of such 43 committee may administer all oaths and affirmations in the 44 manner prescribed by law to witnesses who appear before the 45 committee for the purpose of testifying in any matter concerning 46 which the committee desires evidence. 47 (b) Each such committee, whenever required, may also compel 48 by subpoena duces tecum the production of any books, letters, or 49 other documentary evidence, including any confidential 50 information, it desires to examine in reference to any matter 51 before it. 52 (c) Either house during the session may punish by fine or 53 imprisonment any person not a member who has been guilty of 54
disorderly or contemptuous conduct in its presence or ofa 55 refusal to obey its lawful summons, but such imprisonment must 56 not extend beyond the final adjournment of the session. 57 (d) The sheriffs in the several counties or a duly 58 constituted agent of a Florida legislative committee 18 years of 59 age or older shall make such service and execute all process or 60 orders when required by such committees. Sheriffs shall be paid 61 as provided for in s. 30.231. 62 (4)(a) Whoever willfully affirms or swears falsely in 63 regard to any material matter or thing before any such committee 64 is guilty of false swearing, which constitutes a felony of the 65 second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, 66 or s. 775.084. 67 (b) If a witness fails to respond to the lawful subpoena of 68 any such committee at a time when the Legislature is not in 69 session or, having responded, fails to answer all lawful 70 inquiries or to turn over evidence that has been subpoenaed, 71 such committee may file a complaint before any circuit court of 72 the state setting up such failure on the part of the witness. On 73 the filing of such complaint, the court shall take jurisdiction 74 of the witness and the subject matter of the complaint and shall 75 direct the witness to respond to all lawful questions and to 76 produce all documentary evidence in the possession of the 77 witness which is lawfully demanded. The failure of a witness to 78 comply with such order of the court constitutes a direct and 79 criminal contempt of court, and the court shall punish the 80 witness accordingly. 81 (5) All witnesses summoned before any such committee shall 82 receive reimbursement for travel expenses and per diem at the 83 rates provided in s. 112.061. However, the fact that such 84 reimbursement is not tendered at the time the subpoena is served 85 does not excuse the witness from appearing as directed therein. 86 Section 2. Section 11.1435, Florida Statutes, is created to 87 read: 88 11.1435 Disorderly or contemptuous conduct before 89 legislative committees.— 90 (1) A person, including a member of the Legislature, may 91 not engage in disorderly or contemptuous conduct before a 92 standing committee or select committee or subcommittee of the 93 Legislature. Contemptuous conduct includes knowingly making a 94 materially false statement, whether or not under oath or 95 affirmation, before a legislative committee. 96 (a) A person, including a member of the Legislature, who 97 engages in disorderly or contemptuous conduct while the 98 Legislature is in session may be punished by the house in which 99 the misconduct occurred. The punishment may not exceed a fine of 100 $1,000 or imprisonment in the county jail for up to 90 days, or 101 by both, upon the order of the presiding officer of the house in 102 which the misconduct occurred. 103 (b) A person, including a member of the Legislature, who 104 engages in disorderly or contemptuous conduct during an interim 105 meeting of a legislative committee commits a misdemeanor of the 106 second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 107 775.083. 108 (2) If a violation of this section occurs while the 109 Legislature is in session, a member of the committee before 110 which a violation occurs may file a complaint with the rules 111 chair of the appropriate house of the Legislature. The complaint 112 must identify the disorderly or contemptuous conduct, state the 113 facts showing that the conduct was made in violation of this 114 section, and include relevant supporting documentation or 115 evidence. 116 (3) If the rules chair determines that the complaint fails 117 to support a finding of a violation of this section, the 118 complaint must be dismissed. If the rules chair determines that 119 the complaint states facts that, if true, would be a violation 120 of this section, the complaint must be referred to a special 121 master or a standing or select committee to expeditiously 122 determine whether probable cause of a violation exists. 123 (4) The special master or a standing or select committee 124 shall give reasonable notice to the person who is alleged to 125 have engaged in disorderly or contemptuous conduct, shall 126 conduct an investigation, and shall give the person an 127 opportunity to be heard. Following such actions, the special 128 master or standing or select committee shall prepare a report 129 and recommendation regarding the alleged violation. 130 (5) If the report and recommendation of the special master 131 or standing or select committee conclude that the facts do not 132 support a finding of probable cause, the rules chair must 133 dismiss the complaint. If the report and recommendation find 134 probable cause that the person violated this section, the report 135 and recommendation must be taken up and acted upon by the 136 appropriate house where the disorderly or contemptuous conduct 137 occurred. 138 (6) If the appropriate house determines that a person 139 engaged in disorderly or contemptuous conduct and determines a 140 punishment for the conduct, the presiding officer must issue an 141 order imposing the punishment. An order imposing imprisonment 142 must direct the Leon County Sheriff or the sheriff of the 143 person’s county of residence to take the person into custody for 144 confinement in the county jail for the time period specified in 145 the order. Any fines must be deposited into the Lobbyist 146 Registration Trust Fund. 147 (7) This section applies in the absence of legislative 148 rules establishing a procedure to address the misconduct 149 prohibited by this section. 150 Section 3. This act shall take effect July 1, 2019.