Where are our champions for open government?

TC Palm by Treasure Coast Newspapers Editorial Board

July 6, 2017

You won’t hear many Florida lawmakers bragging about their scores on the Sunshine Scorecard 2017.

Florida Capitol building
(Photo: PHIL SEARS/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

You certainly won’t hear any Treasure Coast lawmakers exulting about their scores.

There is, quite simply, very little for them to brag about here.

And that is concerning.

Given Florida’s long history of and commitment to open government, you’d think there would be several lawmakers who distinguished themselves during the recent legislative session for their efforts to protect open meetings and the public’s access to government records.

Not so.

At the state level, none of Florida’s 160 legislators received an “A” in the Sunshine Scorecard, which was compiled by the Florida Society of News Editors and based on information provided by Florida’s First Amendment Foundation.

To repeat: Not one lawmaker got an “A.”

Nine lawmakers earned a “B”, 71 garnered a “C” and more than half rated “D” or “F”.

At the local level, lawmakers were merely average to below average. Grades for the six members of the Treasure Coast legislative delegation ranged from a “C” for Senate President Joe Negron, R-Palm City, to a “D-” for Rep. Gayle Harrell, R-Stuart.

“I hope this project brings attention to the importance of these issues and causes legislators to take a closer look at the open government bills they vote on,” said Barbara Petersen, president of Florida’s First Amendment Foundation.

Under the scoring system, lawmakers were assigned points for a select list of open-government bills. A floor vote resulted in three points, co-sponsoring a bill resulted in seven points and sponsoring a bill resulted in 10 points.

Lawmakers gained points for votes that supported/protected openness. They lost points when they voted against openness. [READ MORE]

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