Lawmakers could be asked to put phones down

In the age of technology, Florida lawmakers could be asked to put their smart phones down when they go back to work later this month.

Incoming Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran wants to impose a ban on some forms of cell phone usage during session and committee meetings. Lawmakers could be asked not to text with lobbyists.

"It can be a bit of a distraction when the lobbying core is able to so easily reach members, when members of the public don't have that luxury," said Shawn Harrison, State Representative of District 63.

The glow from mobile device screens is a common site during session. Harrison said, while much of the cell phone use is likely personal communication, with representatives texting friends and family back home, the devices have also made it easier for lobbyists to get their messages across through text message.

"It can be anything about, 'Hey, this is a good bill. This is a bad bill. Can you step outside and let us talk to you for a little bit?" explained Harrison. "That's typically what happens."

Corocan said the proposed ban on texting with lobbyists during session is meant to take away the influence lobbyists can have on a debate or a vote. It's a form of influence that average citizens do not have.

"Members of the general public who aren't in Tallahassee during those times really don't have that easy access," said Harrison.

Any lobbyist caught communicating via text during session could lose their privilege to lobby.
Harrison said the proposed ban will likely even he playing field.

The 120 newly elected members of the Florida House will be sworn in during a brief session on November 22