1998 Legislative Report for Period Ending March 6

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W Withdrawn from further consideration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: March 6

SB 260 Confidentiality of Medical Records: Provides that health, medical, patient, and insurance records are confidential pursuant to the privacy provision in Florida’s Constitution (Art. I, s. 23), and that access to such records will be granted only upon the written consent of the person to whom the record pertains, or by court order. No House companion. S. Health Care

  • S. Health Care: Amended to allow access by researchers, stipulating that records remain confidential and requiring researcher to pay for the cost of redacting confidential information; reported favorably as a CS.
    • 🙁 THE AMENDMENTS ADOPTED BY THE COMMITTEE DID NOT ADDRESS THE CONSTITUTIONAL INFIRMITIES IN THIS BILL. ESSENTIALLY, CS/SB 260 EXPANDS THE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT OF PRIVACY—TO BE FREE FROM GOVERNMENTAL INTRUSION INTO OUR PRIVATE LIVES—TO ALSO INCLUDE NONGOVERNMENTAL INTRUSION.

SB 292 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 CS/CS/HB 757. Sen. Ginny Brown-Waite (R-Brooksville); Howard Forman (D-Hollywood)

  • S. Health Care: Minor amendments adopted; reported favorably as a 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 in the process of conducting an inspection, audit, or investigation pursuant to the federal Clean Air Act. Similar to HB 3705. Sen. Buddy Dyer (D-Orlando)

  • S. Natural Resources: Reported favorably with two minor technical amendments.

HB 3209 Exemption for Social Workers: Amends the exemption (§ 455.621, F.S.) for investigations into complaints by AHCA and the Department of Health to also include licensed master social workers and licensed bachelor social workers. Also amends the exemption (§ 455.707, F.S.) for participation in treatment programs for impaired practitioners to include such social workers. Identical to SB 870. Rep. Stephen Wise (R-Jacksonville)

  • H. Health Care Standards & Regulatory Reform: Minor amendments adopted; reported favorably as a CS.

NEW BILLS FILED

COMMERCIAL AND BUSINESS RECORDS

SB 1496 Worker’s Compensation Records: Stipulates that all employers must keep true and accurate work records containing information prescribed by the Division of Worker’s Compensation, and that such records must be open to inspection and copying by the Division. Creates a public records exemption for information revealing the employer or an individual’s identity obtained by the Division under administration of this requirement. No House companion. Sen. Al Gutman (R-Miami)

? THIS LEGISLATION SEEMS SIMILAR TO SB 1408 (SEE PRE-SESSION REPORT), AND, AGAIN, WE’RE WITHHOLDING JUDGMENT UNTIL WE GET MORE INFORMATION ON THE EFFECT OF THE LEGISLATION.

SB 1614 Exemption for Entertainment Industry Records: Creates a public records exemption for records of the Office of the Entertainment Industry Commissioner containing the identity, trade secrets, or information concerning plans, intentions, or interests of any private corporation, partnership, or person locating, relocating, or expanding any of its business activities in Florida, if such person requests confidentiality. The exemption expires if the information is released by the party requesting confidentiality, or, in the case of identity only, until the party retains a business location in the state. No House companion. Sen. Katherine Harris (R-Sarasota)

? I’M NOT AT ALL SURE ABOUT THIS LEGISLATION, AND WE’RE GOING TO WITHOLD JUDGEMENT UNTIL WE GET MORE INFORMATION.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE and LAW ENFORCEMENT INFORMATION

SB 1546 Pre- and Post-Sentence Records: Deletes a public records exemption for pre-sentence and post-sentence investigative records. No House companion. Sen. Tom Rossin (D-West Palm Beach)

🙂 IT’S ABOUT TIME! THIS VERY GOOD BILL DELETES AN EXEMPTION FOR DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS PRE- AND POST-SENTENCE INVESTIGATIVE RECORDS, USED BY A CRIMINAL COURT IN DETERMINING SENTENCES. THERE IS NO JUSTIFICATION FOR THIS EXEMPTION, AND THIS BILL DELETES IT.

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)

WE HAVE OUR DOUBTS ABOUT THE CONSTITUTIONAL SOUNDNESS OF THIS BILL, AND ARE WITHHOLDING JUDGMENT UNTIL WE CAN GET MORE INFORMATION.

HB 3737 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. No Senate companion. Rep. Tony Hill (D-Jacksonville)

ALTHOUGH THIS LEGISLATION DOES NOT HAVE ANY EFFECT ON THE PUBLIC’S CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT OF ACCESS, IT MAY BE OF SOME INTEREST TO FOUNDATION MEMBERS.

ENHANCING PUBLIC ACCESS

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, 1999, without additional charge or obligation to the public, to the following public records and information: deeds, mortgages, tax liens, and real property transactions; minute 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. No House companion. Sen. Katherine Harris (R-Sarasota)

🙂 YEAH! THIS IS A VERY GOOD BILL, AND SOMETHING, WE BELIEVE, THAT IS LONG OVERDUE. THE LEON COUNTY CLERK OF THE COURT HAS BEEN PROVIDING INTERNET ACCESS TO THESE RECORDS SINCE 1995, AND OTHER COUNTY CLERKS SHOULD BE DOING THE SAME.

INSURANCE INFORMATION

SB 1480 FAIR/Insurance Records & Meetings: Stipulates that the Florida FAIR (Florida Access to Insurance Requirements) Plan Association, created by SB 1478, is subject to the Public Records Law and Open Meetings Law. Creates numerous, limited exemptions for association records, including underwriting files; the identity of policies of the Florida Residential Property & Casualty Joint Underwriting Association until such policies are removed; claims files, until termination of all claims; records obtained or generated by an internal auditor, until the audit is completed; attorney-client communication; proprietary information licensed to the association; all information relating to the medical condition or status of an association employee not relevant to the employee’s job performance; all records relating to an employee’s participation in an employee assistance program; and information relating to negotiations for financing, reinsurance, depopulation, or contractual services, until the conclusion of the negotiations. Also exempts portions of meetings in which confidential underwriting files or open claims files are discussed, but requires the presence of a court reporter, and stipulates that transcripts of such closed meetings become public record at the conclusion of the litigation or the settlement of claims. No House companion. Sen. Ron Silver (D-Aventura)

ALTHOUGH THIS LEGISLATION CREATES MANY NEW EXEMPTIONS, THOSE EXEMPTIONS ARE SIMILAR TO THOSE PROPOSED FOR THE AUTOMOBILE JUA, AND ARE NARROWLY DRAWN AS REQUIRED BY FLORIDA’S CONSTITUTION (ART. I, S. 24).

INVESTIGATIVE RECORDS AND INFORMATION

HB 3887 Exemption for Child Abuse and Neglect Records: Creates a public records exemption for records relating to child abandonment by expanding the current exemption in § 415.51, F.S., for all records of the Department of Children, Families and Seniors concerning child abuse or neglect. Also stipulates that, except for information identifying individuals, all records involving the death of a child determined to be a result of abuse, abandonment, or neglect shall be released to the public within 10 days of the completion of the investigation. No Senate companion. Rep. Evelyn Lynn (R-Ormond Beach)

THIS LEGISLATION MEETS THE CONSTITUTUIONAL REQUIREMENTS FOR CREATING NEW EXEMPTIONS.

HB 3953 Investigations of Consumer Collection Agencies: Creates a public records exemption for records relating to investigations, including consumer complaints, by the Department of Banking & Finance of consumer collection agencies until the investigation is complete or no longer active. Stipulates, however, that the records will remain exempt to the extent disclosure would: jeopardize the integrity of another active investigation; reveal certain information about any complainant, customer, or account holder; disclose the identity of a confidential source; disclose investigative techniques or procedure; or reveal a trade secret. No House companion. Rep. Nancy Argenziano (R-Crystal River)

THIS LEGISLATION CREATE S A NARROW EXEMPTION TO THE PUBLIC RECORDS LAW, AND SEEMS TO MEET THE CONSTITUTIONAL REQUIREMENTS FOR CREATING NEW EXEMPTIONS.

PERSONAL INFORMATION

SB 1470 Retirement Systems & Plans: Creates a public records exemption for records and other information held by a retirement system or plan for public employees relating to acquiring, hypothecating, or disposing of private placement investments. Also exempts reports and documents relating to value, offers, counteroffers, or negotiations until 30 days after completion of the transaction. No House companion. Sen. Ron Silver (D-Aventura)

THIS LEGISLATION EXPANDS THE CURRENT EXEMPTION FOR A GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE’S PARTICIPATION IN RETIREMENT PROGRAMS TO INCLUDE REPORTS AND INFORMATION HELD BY A RETIREMENT SYSTEM, AND MAY EXEMPT INFORMATION THAT THE PUBLIC SHOULD HAVE ACCESS TO FOR THE PURPOSE OF GOVERNMENTAL OVERSIGHT.

HB 3925 Exemption for Guardianship Office Records: Stipulates that any confidential or exempt information provided to the Statewide Public Guardianship Office shall remain confidential and exempt. Also creates a public records exemption for an individual’s medical, financial, or mental health records, providing that such records may not be publicly disclosed in such a manner so as to identify the individual. Identical to SB 3925. H. Real Property & Probate; Rep. Larry Crow (R-Dunedin)

THIS EXEMPTION MAY BE CONSTITUTIONALLY OVERBROAD, IN THAT ITS PURPOSE IS TO PROTECT THE IDENTITY OF INDIVIDUALS, YET THE ENTIRE MEDICAL, FINANCIAL, OR MENTAL HEALTH RECORD IS EXEMPT RATHER THAN JUST THE IDENTIFYING INFORMATION IN SUCH RECORDS.

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