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The Florida Statutes

The 2017 Florida Statutes

Title XXVII
RAILROADS AND OTHER REGULATED UTILITIES
Chapter 350
FLORIDA PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION
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F.S. 350.041
350.041 Commissioners; standards of conduct.
(1) STATEMENT OF INTENT.In addition to the provisions of part III of chapter 112, which are applicable to public service commissioners by virtue of their being public officers and full-time employees of the legislative branch of government, the conduct of public service commissioners shall be governed by the standards of conduct provided in this section. Nothing shall prohibit the standards of conduct from being more restrictive than part III of chapter 112. Further, this section shall not be construed to contravene the restrictions of part III of chapter 112. In the event of a conflict between this section and part III of chapter 112, the more restrictive provision shall apply.
(2) STANDARDS OF CONDUCT.
(a) A commissioner may not accept anything from any business entity which, either directly or indirectly, owns or controls any public utility regulated by the commission, from any public utility regulated by the commission, or from any business entity which, either directly or indirectly, is an affiliate or subsidiary of any public utility regulated by the commission. A commissioner may attend conferences and associated meals and events that are generally available to all conference participants without payment of any fees in addition to the conference fee. Additionally, while attending a conference, a commissioner may attend meetings, meals, or events that are not sponsored, in whole or in part, by any representative of any public utility regulated by the commission and that are limited to commissioners only, committee members, or speakers if the commissioner is a member of a committee of the association of regulatory agencies that organized the conference or is a speaker at the conference. It is not a violation of this paragraph for a commissioner to attend a conference for which conference participants who are employed by a utility regulated by the commission have paid a higher conference registration fee than the commissioner, or to attend a meal or event that is generally available to all conference participants without payment of any fees in addition to the conference fee and that is sponsored, in whole or in part, by a utility regulated by the commission. If, during the course of an investigation by the Commission on Ethics into an alleged violation of this paragraph, allegations are made as to the identity of the person giving or providing the prohibited gift, that person must be given notice and an opportunity to participate in the investigation and relevant proceedings to present a defense. If the Commission on Ethics determines that the person gave or provided a prohibited gift, the person may not appear before the commission or otherwise represent anyone before the commission for a period of 2 years.
(b) A commissioner may not accept any form of employment with or engage in any business activity with any business entity which, either directly or indirectly, owns or controls any public utility regulated by the commission, any public utility regulated by the commission, or any business entity which, either directly or indirectly, is an affiliate or subsidiary of any public utility regulated by the commission.
(c) A commissioner may not have any financial interest, other than shares in a mutual fund, in any public utility regulated by the commission, in any business entity which, either directly or indirectly, owns or controls any public utility regulated by the commission, or in any business entity which, either directly or indirectly, is an affiliate or subsidiary of any public utility regulated by the commission. If a commissioner acquires any financial interest prohibited by this section during his or her term of office as a result of events or actions beyond the commissioner’s control, he or she shall immediately sell such financial interest or place such financial interest in a blind trust at a financial institution. A commissioner may not attempt to influence, or exercise any control over, decisions regarding the blind trust.
(d) A commissioner may not accept anything from a party in a proceeding currently pending before the commission. If, during the course of an investigation by the Commission on Ethics into an alleged violation of this paragraph, allegations are made as to the identity of the person giving or providing the prohibited gift, that person must be given notice and an opportunity to participate in the investigation and relevant proceedings to present a defense. If the Commission on Ethics determines that the person gave or provided a prohibited gift, the person may not appear before the commission or otherwise represent anyone before the commission for a period of 2 years.
(e) A commissioner may not serve as the representative of any political party or on any executive committee or other governing body of a political party; serve as an executive officer or employee of any political party, committee, organization, or association; receive remuneration for activities on behalf of any candidate for public office; engage on behalf of any candidate for public office in the solicitation of votes or other activities on behalf of such candidacy; or become a candidate for election to any public office without first resigning from office.
(f) A commissioner, during his or her term of office, may not make any public comment regarding the merits of any proceeding under ss. 120.569 and 120.57 currently pending before the commission.
(g) A commissioner may not conduct himself or herself in an unprofessional manner at any time during the performance of his or her official duties.
(h) A commissioner must avoid impropriety in all of his or her activities and must act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the commission.
(i) A commissioner may not directly or indirectly, through staff or other means, solicit anything of value from any public utility regulated by the commission, or from any business entity that, whether directly or indirectly, is an affiliate or subsidiary of any public utility regulated by the commission, or from any party appearing in a proceeding considered by the commission in the last 2 years.
(3) ETHICS TRAINING.Beginning January 1, 2016, a commissioner must annually complete at least 4 hours of ethics training that addresses, at a minimum, s. 8, Art. II of the State Constitution, the Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees, and the public records and public meetings laws of this state. This requirement may be satisfied by completion of a continuing legal education class or other continuing professional education class, seminar, or presentation, if the required subjects are covered.
(4) INVESTIGATION OF ALLEGED VIOLATIONS; REPORT; ENFORCEMENT.The Commission on Ethics shall accept and investigate any alleged violations of this section pursuant to the procedures contained in ss. 112.322-112.3241. The Commission on Ethics shall provide the Governor and the Florida Public Service Commission Nominating Council with a report of its findings and recommendations. The Governor is authorized to enforce the findings and recommendations of the Commission on Ethics, pursuant to part III of chapter 112. A public service commissioner or a member of the Florida Public Service Commission Nominating Council may request an advisory opinion from the Commission on Ethics, pursuant to s. 112.322(3)(a), regarding the standards of conduct or prohibitions set forth in this section and ss. 350.031, 350.04, and 350.042.
History.s. 3, ch. 90-272; s. 531, ch. 95-148; s. 90, ch. 96-410; s. 4, ch. 2005-132; s. 3, ch. 2015-129.