1998 Legislative Report for Period Ending April 24

Symbol Meaning
Current action
CS Committee Substitute
P Passed both Chambers
W Withdrawn from further consideration
97 Bills carried over from 1997 Session

For Period Ending: April 24

SB 150 Journalists’ Shield Law: Creates a qualified privilege for confidential sources, stipulating that a professional journalist does not have to be a witness or disclose any information, including the identity of any source, that the journalist received in the course of gathering news, unless the party seeking the information can show that (1) the information is relevant and material to unresolved issues; (2) the information is not available from other sources; and (3) a compelling interest exists for requiring disclosure. Provides that the qualified privilege applies upon demonstration by affidavit or other competent evidence that a professional journalist was engaged in gathering news when receiving the information at issue. Also deletes the exemption for pre- and post-sentencing investigation records. Similar to CS/HB 71. Sen. Don Sullivan (R-Seminole)

  • Senate: Amended to: (1) stipulate that the privilege does NOT apply to eyewitness observations of a crime, or visual or audio recordings of a crime; (2) add a provision concerning authentication; (3) clarify that only those book authors who are professional journalists will be protected by the privilege; (4) stipulate that the privilege is NOT waived by publishing or broadcasting the information; and (5) remove the provision deleting the current exemption for pre- and post-sentencing investigation records. Passed the Senate (31/8); in House messages.

SB 316 AHCA/Exemption for Notification of Adverse Incidents: Creates an exemption for information contained in notifications of adverse incidents reported to AHCA. Also stipulates that such information is not discoverable or admissible in civil or administrative actions. Similar to CS/HB 3311. Sen. Ginny Brown-Waite (R-Brooksville)

  • Senate: Tabled; CS/HB 3311 substituted.

CS/SB 506 Investigations/Department Children, Families & Seniors: Deletes the current exemptions for investigative records of the Department of Children, Families and Seniors in cases involving the death of a child, a disabled adult, or an elderly person while in custodial care. Stipulates that any person may have access to such records, and that information identifying the person who reported the abuse or neglect leading to the death may not be released. Similar to CS/HB 1433. Sen. Tom Rossin (D-West Palm Beach)

  • Senate: Amended to conform to House companion; laid on table; CS/HB 1433 substituted.

SB 746 Florida Automobile Joint Underwriting Association: Stipulates that the Florida Automobile JUA is subject to the Public Records Law and the Open Meetings Law. Creates public records exemptions for underwriting files; claims files, until termination of all litigation and settlement of all claims; records obtained or generated by an internal auditor; attorney-client communications; proprietary information; association employee medical information; records concerning employee participation in substance abuse programs; information relating to certain negotiations; and minutes of closed meetings until a time specified. Also creates an exemption for portions of meetings during which confidential underwriting files or confidential open claims files are discussed, but stipulates that closed portions of meetings must be recorded by a court reporter, and that the transcript of the closed portion of the meeting becomes public after settlement of the claim. Similar to CS/HB 1887. Sen. Charles Williams (D-Live Oak)

  • Senate: Tabled; CS/HB 1887 substituted. See CS/HB 1887.

97 CS/CS/HB 757 Exemption for Home Medical Equipment Suppliers: Creates a public records exemption for information about patients of a home medical equipment supplier received by persons employed by or providing services to a home medical equipment supplier. Also creates an exemption for information obtained in connection with the required background screening of home medical equipment supplier employees. Identical to SB 292. H. Health Care Standards & Regulatory Reform Committee; Rep. Debra Prewitt (D-New Port Richey)

  • House: Passed the House (116/0); in Senate Messages.

CS/SB 814 Exemption for Clean Air Act Information: Stipulates that when the Accidental Release Prevention Program under the federal Clean Air Act allows “a stationary source” to exclude specific information from its Risk Management Plan, the owner or operator must provide such information to the State Hazardous Materials Emergency Response Commission upon request, and provides that the information is exempt from the Public Records Law. Also creates an exemption for any information provided to the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) in the process of conducting an inspection, audit, or investigation pursuant to the federal Clean Air Act. Similar to CS/CS/HB 3705. Sen. Buddy Dyer (D-Orlando)

  • S. Governmental Reform Committee: Amended to conform to the House companion; reported favorably as a CS.

SB 952 Exemption for Eminent Domain Records: Stipulates that business records provided by the owner or onsite operator to a governmental condemning authority are exempt from the Public Records Law after the governmental authority has made a prelitigation offer. Similar to HB 3595. Sen. John Grant (R-Tampa)

  • S. Governmental Reform & Oversight Committee: Reported favorably.

CS/CS/SB 1044 Public Hospital Lease: Stipulates that the records of a private corporation leasing a public hospital and meetings of its governing board are exempt if the public hospital complies with the public finance accountability provisions of § 155.40(5), F.S., with respect to the transfer of any public funds to the private corporation leasing the public hospital, and the private corporation meets at least three of the five following criteria: (1) the public hospital was not the incorporator of the private corporation; (2) the public hospital and the private corporation do not commingle any of their funds; (3) the private corporation does not participate in the decision-making process of the public hospital; (4) the lease agreement does not expressly require the private corporation to comply with the requirements of the Public Records Law and Open Meetings Law; and (5) the public hospital is not entitled to any revenues from the private corporation, except for rent or administrative fees, and the public hospital is not responsible for the debts or other obligations of the private corporation. Similar to CS/HB 3585. Sen. Charles Williams (D-Live Oak)

  • Senate: Laid on table; CS/HB 3585 amended to conform to Senate bill and substituted.

CS/SB 1170 Public Hospital Meetings & Records: Defines the term “written strategic plans” (for the purposes of current exemptions in § 395.3035, F.S.) to include plans to: initiate, acquire, or expand new or existing health services or facilities; change all or part of the use of an existing facility or a newly acquired facility; acquire, merge, or consolidate with another health care facility or provider; enter into a shared service arrangement with another health care provider; enter into certain permitted transactions; and/or market the services of the hospital. Also creates an exemption for those portions of a board meeting at which written strategic plans are modified or approved by the hospital governing board. Similar to CS/HB 3605. Sen. Doc Myers (R-Stuart)

  • S. Health Care Committee: Amended to: (1) stipulate that the term “strategic plan” does not include records describing existing operations which implement or execute the provisions of a strategic plan unless the records would disclose any strategic plan not fully implemented; (2) prohibit a governing board from approving a binding agreement to sell, lease, merge, or consolidate at a closed meeting; (3) require a public meting on all proposals resulting in a substantial reduction or termination of a health service not available within 30-minutes driving time prior to the proposals adoption; and (4) require a public meeting prior to placing a strategic plan into operation. Reported favorably as a CS.

CS/SB 1230 Florida Kids Health Program Exemption: Creates a public records exemption for any information contained in an application for determination of eligibility for the Florida Kids Health Program that would identify the applicants, including medical information and family financial information, and for any information obtained through quality assurance activities and patient satisfaction surveys which identifies program participants. No House companion. Sen. Ginny Brown-Waite (R-Brooksville)

  • Senate: Minor amendments adopted; roled over to third reading.

97 HB 1447 Veterinary Medical Practice: In pertinent part, requires veterinarians to comply with the patient record confidentiality requirements of chapter 455, Florida Statutes. Similar to SB 472. Rep. Bob Sindler (D-Apopka)

  • House: Passed the House (111/1); in Senate Messages.
    • 🙁 THIS BILL IS NEW TO OUR TRACKING LIST BECAUSE OF THE AMENDMENTS REGARDING CHAPTER 455, F.S., ADDED ON THE HOUSE FLOOR. SEEMINGLY, THE PURPOSE OF THIS REQUIREMENT IS TO HOLD RABIES VACCINATION CERTIFICATES CONFIDENTIAL, AND TO PROHIBIT PUBLIC ACCESS TO THOSE RECORDS. SEE ALSO: CS/HB 1139 AND CS/SB 1134.

CS/SB 1556 Public Records Access by Inmates: Prohibits an inmate or offender in the correctional system or under correctional supervision from disclosing or using personal information about another with the intent to obtain a benefit or with the intent to harm or defraud another. A violation of the prohibition is a third degree felony. Similar to HB 3121. Sen. Charles Williams (D-Live Oak)

  • S. Criminal Justice Committee: Amendments adding definitions is adopted; reported favorably as a CS.

CS/CS/SB 1604 County Clerks Public Records Access Act: Stipulates that the clerks of court of each county must provide Internet access no later than December 31, 2001, to the following public records and information: deeds, mortgages, tax liens, and real property transactions; minutes of county commission meetings and agendas of future meetings; marriage licenses and orders of dissolution of any marriage; all final judgments; information to assist domestic violence victims; information assisting in obtaining child support and alimony; jury service information; and a listing of all felony criminal sentences imposed in the preceding year. Allows clerks to charge a fee of up to $4.00 per page for downloading public records. Similar to HB 4109. Sen. Katherine Harris (R-Sarasota)

  • S. Governmental Reform & Oversight Committee: Amendments adopted that delete fee provision, reinserting language that Internet access must be provided at no additional cost to the public, and to allow clerks to receive funds from the Highway Safety Operating Trust Fund for establishing Internet access; reported favorably as a CS.

SB 1776 Public Notification/Sexual Predators: Stipulates that within 48 hours of receiving notice of the temporary or permanent residence of a sexual predator in the community, the sheriff or chief of police must notify all day care centers, elementary schools, middle schools and high schools within the proximity of the sexual predator’s residence. Identical to HB 3737. Sen. Betty Holzendorf (D-Jacksonville)

  • S. Community Affairs Committee: Reported favorably.

p CS/HB 1887 Florida Automobile Joint Underwriting Association: Stipulates that the Florida Automobile JUA is subject to the Public Records Law and the Open Meetings Law. Creates public records exemptions for underwriting files; claims files, until termination of all litigation and settlement of all claims; records obtained or generated by an internal auditor; attorney-client communications; proprietary information; association employee medical information; records concerning employee participation in substance abuse programs; information relating to certain negotiations; and minutes of closed meetings until a time specified. Also creates an exemption for portions of meetings during which confidential underwriting files or confidential open claims files are discussed, but stipulates that closed portions of meetings must be recorded by a court reporter, and that the transcript of the closed portion of the meeting becomes public after settlement of the claim. Similar to SB 746. H. Governmental Operations; Rep. Randy Ball (R-Titusville)

  • Senate: Passed the Senate (40/0); passed the Legislature.

p CS/HB 1903 Investigations/Florida Land Sales Division: Stipulates that information relative to an investigation by the Florida Land Sales Division is exempt from the Public Records Law until 10 day after a notice to show cause has been filed, or until the investigation is complete or ceases to be active. Provides that consumer complaints relative to such investigations remain exempt under certain, specified conditions. Identical to SB 806. H. Governmental Operations; H. Real Property & Probate; Rep. Larry Crow (R-Dunedin)

  • Senate: Passed the Senate (36/0); passed the Legislature.

CS/HB 3605 Public Hospital Meetings & Records: Defines the term “written strategic plans” (for the purposes of current exemptions in § 395.3035, F.S.) to include any record which describes actions or activities to: initiate, acquire, or expand new or existing health services or facilities; change all or part of the use of an existing facility or a newly acquired facility; acquire, merge, or consolidate with another health care facility or provider; enter into a shared service arrangement with another health care provider; enter into certain permitted transactions; and/or market the services of the hospital. Also creates an exemption for those portions of a board meeting at which written strategic plans are reported on, modified, or approved by the hospital governing board. Similar to CS/SB 1170. Rep. Michael Fasano (R-New Port Richey)

  • House: Amended to conform to Senate companion; passed the House (106/8). In Senate messages.

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If everything shakes out as it appears it will at this point in the 1998 Legislative Session, the public’s right of access is going to take a big hit on the chin this year. Five new exemptions have already passed the Legislature (and three have become law), and there are at least 13 (!) that will most likely pass in the next few days. The most egregious of those bills likely to pass are CS/SB 1044 (or its House companion, CS/HB 3585), stipulating that private companies running public hospitals are exempt from Florida’s open government laws, and CS/HB 3605, defining “written strategic plans” and allowing public hospital boards to close all meetings and records concerning such plans.

As usual, our last report of the session will contain a complete list of all the bills we’ve been tracking (91 to date!), with a statement about each bill’s fate. At the end of the report will be a complete description of all the bills that have passed.

If you have any questions, or would like more information, please call our office at 1-800-337-3518, or check our website at www.FloridaFaF.org.

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