A new financial disclosure law going into effect in Florida Jan. 1 is causing many small town leaders to quit their positions, according to reports.
The law, passed by the state legislature earlier this year, requires local elected officials to annually file a financial disclosure known as Form 6. It replaces a predecessor named Form 1, and lowers the reporting requirement of liabilities and assets in excess of $10,000 to $1,000, The Tampa Bay Times reports.
The form is two pages to fill out, and asks lawmakers for their net worth, the dollar amounts of their income, assets and liabilities and interests in specified businesses.
“Why did it suddenly have to become so invasive? We were already reporting our financial situation, but now they want it so granular that it almost looks like an attack on home rule and an attack on small municipalities,” Belleair Beach Mayor Dave Gattis said to FOX 13 Tampa Bay. “If we [are] unable to fulfill our charter, what’s going to happen? Are they trying to force us to dissolve? I don’t get what Tallahassee’s end game is here.”
The wave of resignations is being seen across the Sunshine State, impacting communities of North Palm Beach, St. Pete Beach, Indian Rocks Beach, Seminole, Fort Myers Beach and Naples, multiple media outlets state. Some elected officials who have not left yet say they plan to do so by Dec. 31.
Those who choose not to comply face fines or impeachment, WPTV reported.
“Look, when you serve in public office, it’s an honor but it also comes with a higher level of transparency and public scrutiny than you would otherwise,” State Rep. Spencer Roach, R-North Fort Myers, told the TV station. “And you know, to borrow an old adage — if you can’t take the heat, don’t come in the kitchen.”
Roach handled the bill in the Florida House, and mentioned the long list of officials already required to do Form 6 includes the governor, Florida Cabinet, school board members, sheriffs and the entire Florida Legislature.
Gov. Ron DeSantis signed Form 6 into law in May. Some in disagreement say they will take their fight up to the state’s capital in the coming months.
“It’s just a complete invasion of privacy. For what we do in these small towns, we are volunteers; we’re not career politicians– we’re just doing what we think is best for our town and our city, trying to serve,” Belleair Mayor Mike Wilkinson told FOX 13. “We all have careers and families; it’s not a full-time position for any of us.”
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