City Clerk Lee Mathes told the Apalachicola Board of City Commissioners at their regular scheduled meeting held April 7 that changes made to the ethics laws during the 2014 Florida Legislative session now require that all elected municipal officials throughout Florida undergo mandatory ethics training.
“The Florida Legislature as of January of this year made it mandatory that elected municipal officials take a 4-hour ethics training class… April 23rd is going to be one [class] at the [Gulf Coast State College] Panama City Campus in Panama City, May 1st they’re going to hold one in Marianna, there’s also an online option”, said Mathes.
Mathes requested that commissioners meet with her to choose which class location they wanted to attend and to register for the course. She also told commissioners that the two in-person courses are free, but the online class offered through the Florida Institute of Government had a price tag of $85.
The changes to the law went into effect on January 1, 2015, and no prior training taken by an elected municipal official will count toward the new requirement. Only training taken after January 1 and within the calendar year will satisfy the requirements of the new law. The training is annual and should be taken and completed as close as possible to the date an elected municipal official assume office.
The law specifies that the four hours be taught with the following components: 2-hours of Florida Ethics Law (Chapter 112, Florida Statutes), 1-hour of Open Meetings (Chapter 286, Florida Statutes) and 1-hour of Open Records (Chapter 119, Florida Statutes).
In addition, beginning with the annual financial disclosure forms due July 1, 2016, there will be a checkbox on Form 1 for elected municipal filers to certify they have completed the required training.