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Senate Panel Passes Tough Ethics Bill Unanimously

A bill aimed at toughening ethics rules for lawmakers sailed through the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee on Tuesday. The measure would limit the jobs elected officials could take with state agencies and give the Ethics Commission more power.

Senator Jack Latvala, a Saint Petersburg Republican and the committee chair, hailed the unanimous vote.

"I think I heard 13 yeses, and I appreciate that very much", Latvala said. "We will move forward with this bill, and it's got a long way to go, but this bipartisan support on this bill sends a real strong message."

Latvala said the bill will likely be ready for action by the full Senate in the first week of the legislative session. Senate President Don Gaetz called it "the most sweeping ethics reform in more than 30 years."