Florida Senate Bill Would Ban University Employees From Serving in the State Legislature

NOT from The Onion

Triangulate this story and you’ll find it falls somewhere between laughable, maddening and ironic: A bill moving forward in the Florida Senate would ban state college and university employees, such as professors, from serving in the state legislature.

Cue up the “Yeah, no need to taint the Capitol gene pool with some smart people” joke.

Although the proposal seems far from certain (SB 1560 only passed the Senate Rules Subcommittee on Ethics and Elections by a 7-6 vote on Monday), it has nevertheless passed its first legislative obstacle.

The bill, authored by Sen. John Thrasher, is supposed to prevent conflicts of interest by folks from state colleges and universities. But banning them from serving in the legislature doesn’t make sense. Because, almost by definition, every person in the state has the potential for a conflict of interest. That’s true not just for the state legislature, but every county commission, town council and water district seat.

It’s how our citizen government works. We pick people who live and work in our communities and ask them to manage the affairs of those towns and counties and the state. That’s why every governing body already has conflict-of-interest rules that forbid voting on a bill or ordinance from which you could benefit.

(via Gerry Canavan)