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2001 Opinions

Date:   March 21, 2001
Prepared By:   James A. Robinson
Phone:   (850) 488-7707
Suncom:   278-7707
Opinion No.:   01-02
Staff Contact:   Louise Sadler
TO: Ken L. Baer, Assistant Director
FROM: James A. Robinson, General Counsel
SUBJECT: Voting Issues - OAOC
RE: E-mail dated April 12, 2001

QUESTION PRESENTED: Whether there is a conflict between the Florida Statutes' Sunshine Law and Roberts Rules of Order by which the Commission is governed in itsparliamentary procedures? And, if so, which controls for voting purposes relating to the Chair of the Commission and the Chairs of its committees?

CONCLUSION: Yes, there is a conflict, and the statute controls. The statute requires a vote unless there is disclosure of a conflict.

DISCUSSION: In my research, I reviewed Section 413.83, Florida Statutes, Occupational Access and Opportunity Commission; creation; purpose; membership; Section 112.3143, F.S., Voting Conflicts, and the web's official site for Roberts Rules of Order. My research leads me to conclude that there is a conflict, and that the statute controls. My reasoning follows.

Pursuant to Section 413.83(11), Florida Statutes., commission members must file public financial disclosures and are subject to the provisions of part III of Chapter 112. Thus, commission members are governed by The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees found at 112.311-- 112.326, F.S.

Pursuant to Section 112.3143 (2), F.S., no state public officer is prohibited from voting in an official capacity on any matter. The statute goes on to state that such officer must not vote on issues which constitute a conflict for the official, and the official must disclose the nature of the conflict. We interpret this to mean that no public officer should withhold his or her vote unless there is a conflict.

An official interpretation of Roberts Rules of Order Newly Revised Section 43, pp. 400-401, states that, "Regardless of an organization's size or nature, the "chair," if a member of the assembly, may vote by ballot. Otherwise, the chair may vote when the chair's vote will affect the result."

Roberts Rules imposes an apparent limitation upon the voting opportunities available to the Commission's Chair and committee chairs in that the chair may only vote if the vote is taken in secret, i.e. by ballot, or when the chair's vote will make a difference in the result. This limitation is not found in the statute. Florida's statutory law controls and takes priority over the rules of parliamentary procedure found in Roberts Rules. Thus, the Commission's Chair and the committees' chairs may vote unless they have a declared conflict.

I trust this fully answers the questions presented. If you have questions, please advise.

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