Politico by Gary Fineout, Matt Dixon, and Isabel Dobrin
March 12, 2019
Good Tuesday morning. Yes, we’re in Daylight Savings Time. But the Legislature is engaging in one of its favorite pastimes: darkening the state’s Sunshine Laws.
DARKNESS — One measure moving quickly during this year’s session has drawn worries from media organizations and open government advocates. That’s the bill filed by two Tampa Bay legislators that would make confidential all photographs, video and audio of a “mass violence” killing where three or more people are killed. Supporters of the proposal say they want to protect families from having to see images of the killings of their loved ones on the internet. There is also a concern that such videos could be used to encourage additional acts of violence. News organizations contend that this legislation is worded in such a way that it would have prevented the public from learning the missteps that happened at the Parkland massacre more than a year ago. These details of the Parkland shooting ultimately led to the decision by Gov. Ron DeSantis to suspend Broward Sheriff Scott Israel.
SHIELD — State Sen. Tom Lee, one of the sponsors, said that he has been having conversations in recent days with former newspaper reporters as well as the head of the First Amendment Foundation about the bill. He said that he has had to knock down speculation that the bill is being pushed by the National Rifle Association. (Lee said he has never talked to well-known NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer about the legislation.) But he added that he is looking for a way to reduce the scope of the legislation. “I am not without concern that these laws can be used to shield government,” Lee said. “It’s really on our backs to make this as narrow as possible.”