FAF Letter to Rep. Gruters Re: HB 1037 Exemption/Home Addresses – Public Guardians

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3 January 2018
The Honorable Joe Gruters
Florida House of Representatives
402 South Monroe Street, Room 1101, The Capitol
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1100

Re: HB 1037 Exemption/Home Addresses – Public Guardians

Dear Representative Gruters:

We are writing to express our concerns regarding HB 1037, which creates a public record exemption for the home addresses and other public record information of public guardians, including employees with fiduciary responsibilities, and their spouses and children.

While we are not necessarily opposed to the proposed exemption, Representative Gruters, we are concerned about the vague and potentially broad nature of the term “employees with fiduciary responsibility.” The proposed bill offers no definition of term and because of its vagueness, the application of the proposed exemption could easily be interpreted and applied inconsistently.

Additionally, the statement of public necessity asserts that release of the protected information might result in disgruntled persons trying to harm the employees or their spouses and children who are protected by the exemption. We have seen no evidence that a threat of harm exists to these individuals or that such harm has in fact occurred, and the statement of public necessity does not identify examples of such harm, either threatened or actual. As it is currently drafted, the statement of public necessity is speculative at best and fails to justify the exemption. As a result, the exemption does not meet the constitutional standard for public record exemptions under Article I, s. 24 of the State Constitution.

Therefore, we suggest that HB 1037 be amended so as to define who “employees with fiduciary responsibility” are and to include compelling evidentiary support in the statement of public necessity.

Thank you for your attention to our concerns, Representative Gruters. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Sincerely,
Barbara A. Petersen, President

Cc: The Honorable Richard Corcoran, Speaker, Florida House of Representatives
Jon Kaney, General Counsel, First Amendment Foundation
Sam Morley, General Counsel, Florida Press Association
Gil Thelen, Executive Director, Florida Society of News Editors

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