1998 Legislative Review: Pre-Session Report

Foundation Members: We’ve made a few changes in how we’re going to report open government bills to you this year, with the idea of—hopefully—making our reports more meaningful. The following is a list of the bills, grouped by general category, we will be tracking throughout the 1998 Legislative Session. As usual, we have selected those bills with open government and first amendment implications we think will be of interest to our members. After the summary of each open government bill, we will now include a short analysis of the bill, including an easily recognizable indication of whether the bill is good or bad. Under this new reporting system, 🙂 is Good, and 🙁 is Bad. Those bills that are neither good nor bad will not be marked. Also, those house bills marked with a small 97 are carryovers from the 1997 Legislative Session. During session, we will report any activity on these bills, as well as any new legislation that may be filed, on a weekly basis. We suggest you keep this pre-session report, as the weekly reports will not contain a complete description of all the bills.

PUBLIC RECORDS and OPEN MEETINGS

COMMERCIAL AND BUSINESS RECORDS

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)

HB 3705 Exemption for Clean Air Act Information: Nearly identical to SB 814. Rep. Lori Edwards (D-Auburndale)

? FRANKLY, WE NEED MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE FEDERAL ACCIDENTAL RELEASE PREVENTION PROGRAM BEFORE OFFERING AN ANALYSIS OF THE EFFECT OF THIS LEGISLATION. AT THE VERY LEAST, THE CONSTITUTIONALLY REQUIRED STATEMENT OF PUBLIC NECESSITY APPEARS INSUFFICIENT.

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)

HB 3595 Exemption for Eminent Domain Records: Stipulates that business records provided to a governmental condemning authority can be used only for the purpose of a written offer or in a condemnation suit. Also creates a public records exemption for such records. Similar to SB 952. Rep. Ken Pruitt (R-Port St. Lucie)

THIS LEGISLATION, CREATING A LIMITED EXEMPTION TO THE PUBLIC’S RIGHT OF ACCESS, COMPLIES WITH THE CONSTITUTIONAL REQUIREMENTS FOR CREATING NEW EXEMPTIONS. HOWEVER, SB 952, WHICH APPEARS TO CREATE A MORE LIMITED EXEMPTION, IS PREFERABLE TO ITS HOUSE COMPANION.

SB 1408 Exemption for Worker’s Compensation Records: Creates a public records exemption for information revealing the identity of an individual or an “employing unit”, and any determination revealing such information. Allows disclosure only upon written authorization of the claimant, and makes the release of such information a second degree misdemeanor. No House companion. Sen. Charlie Clary (R-Destin)

? WE’RE WITHHOLDING JUDGMENT ON THIS BILL UNTIL WE HAVE A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF ITS POTENTIAL EFFECT.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE and LAW ENFORCEMENT INFORMATION

SB 198 Exemption for Lethal Injection Records: Creates a public records exemption for information that would identify the person administering the lethal injection. Identical to SB 1248; similar to CS/HB 3053. Sen. Ron Klein (D-Delray Beach)

  • On the Senate Calendar.

SB 1248 Exemption for Lethal Injection Records: Identical to SB 198; similar to CS/HB 3053. Senator Locke Burt (R-Ormond Beach)

CS/HB 3053 Exemption for Lethal Injection Records: Nearly identical to SB 198 and SB 1248. Rep. Tracy Stafford (D-Ft. Lauderdale)

  • Pending House Consent Calendar.
    • WITH ALL THE CONTROVERSY SURROUNDING FLORIDA’S ELECTRIC CHAIR, THE LEGISLATURE IS CONSIDERING LETHAL INJECTION AS AN ALTERNATIVE MEANS OF EXECUTION. THIS LEGISLATION CREATES A PUBLIC RECORDS EXEMPTION FOR THE IDENTITY OF THE PERSON ADMINISTERING A LETHAL INJECTION, SIMILAR TO THAT CURRENTLY ALLOWED FOR THE STATE’S EXECUTIONER.

SB 348 Exemption for Video-Taped Statements of Minors: Creates a public records exemption for the video-taped statements of minors who are the victims of certain, specified sexual crimes. Similar to CS/HB 1105. Sen. Anna Cowin (R-Leesburg), and others.

  • On the Senate Calendar.

97 CS/HB 1105 Exemption for Video-Taped Statements of Minors: Nearly identical to SB 348. H. Governmental Operations; Reps. George Albright (R-Ocala); Sandy Murman (R-Tampa)

  • Passed the House in 1997 Session; carried over to 1998 and placed on the House Consent Calendar.
    • 🙁 THE STATED PURPOSE OF THIS LEGISLATION IS TO PROTECT THE IDENTITY OF MINORS WHO HAVE BEEN THE VICTIMS OF SEXUAL CRIMES. THE EXEMPTION, HOWEVER, APPLIES TO THE ENTIRE STATEMENT, AND IS UNCONSTITUTIONALLY OVERBROAD. AN AMENDMENT HAS BEEN DRAFTED THAT ADDRESSES THE CONSTITUTIONAL PROBLEM.

SB 424 Violent Offenders/Public Notices: Requires county and municipal law enforcement officers to notify the public if a violent offender released from jail plans to reside in the area. No House companion. Sen. Charlie Crist (R-St. Petersburg)

ALTHOUGH THIS INFORMATION IS CURRENTLY PUBLIC RECORD AND COULD BE OBTAINED FROM A LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY, SB 424 WOULD REQUIRE LAW ENFORCEMENT TO NOTIFY THE PUBLIC THAT A VIOLENT OFFENDER IS MOVING INTO THE COMMUNITY. ALTHOUGH THIS BILL DOES NOT HAVE AN IMPACT ON THE PUBLIC’S CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT OF ACCESS, IT MAY BE OF INTEREST TO SOME FOUNDATION MEMBERS.

SB 920 Motor Vehicle Accident Reports: Stipulates that automobile accident reports and statements made about such accidents are not confidential or privileged and may be used as evidence in any civil or criminal trial or administrative hearing, thus abrogating the current accident report privilege. No House companion. Sen. Al Gutman (R-Miami)

THIS BILL DOES NOT EFFECT THE PUBLIC’S CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT OF ACCESS BUT MAY BE OF INTEREST TO SOME FOUNDATION MEMBERS.

HB 3121 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. No Senate companion. Rep. Randy Mackey (D-Lake City)

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

FINANCIAL INFORMATION

SB 556 Exemption for Delinquent Personal Property Tax Application: Creates a public records exemption for applications to participate in an installment program for the payment of delinquent personal property taxes. No House companion. Sen. Howard Forman (D-Hollywood)

THERE IS LEGISLATION FILED IMPLEMENTING AN INSTALLMENT PAYMENT PROGRAM FOR PAYMENT OF DELINQUENT PERSONAL PROPERTY TAXES. THIS BILL CREATES AN EXEMPTION FOR APPLICATIONS TO PARTICIPATE IN THE NEW PROGRAM, INFORMATION THAT IS CONTAINED ON A CONFIDENTIAL RETURN. THE BILL SEEMS TO MEET THE CONSTITUTIONAL REQUIREMENTS FOR NEW EXEMPTIONS.

HEALTH CARE INFORMATION and HOSPITAL RECORDS

SB 166 AHCA/Provider & Subscriber Assistance Panel Records & Meetings: Creates a public records exemption for subscriber identifying information contained in records prepared or reviewed by a provider and subscriber assistance panel of the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA). Also allows partial closure of meetings of the panel if the provider or subscriber whose grievance is to be heard requests a closed meeting and AHCA or the Department of Insurance determines that sensitive personal information, trade secret information, or information related to internal risk management programs may be revealed at the meeting. Requires that the closed portions of the meeting be recorded by a certified court reporter. Similar to CS/HB 1437. Sen. Ginny Brown-Waite (R-Brooksville)

  • On the Senate Calendar.

97 CS/HB 1437 AHCA/Provider & Subscriber Assistance Panel Records & Meetings: Similar to the Senate bill, except that CS/HB 1437 does not require recording of the closed portions of the meetings. H. Health Care Standards & Regulatory Reform; Rep. Burt Saunders (R-Naples)

  • Passed the House in 1997; carried over and placed on the House Consent Calendar.
    • THE PURPOSE OF THIS EXEMPTION IS TO PROTECT IDENTIFYING INFORMATION IN RECORDS RELATED TO MEDICAL TREATMENT OR HISTORY. THE MEETINGS EXEMPTION IS SUFFICIENTLY NARROW, AND SB 166, REQUIRING A COURT REPORTER AT CLOSED PORTIONS OF MEETINGS, ALLOWS THE OPPORTUNITY FOR PUBLIC OVERSIGHT, AND WE PREFER IT OVER THE HOUSE BILL.

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

🙁 THIS BILL ATTEMPTS TO CREATE AN EXEMPTION TO THE PUBLIC RECORDS LAW PURSUANT TO THE PRIVACY PROVISION IN THE FLORIDA CONSTITUTION, ALLOWING US TO BE FREE FROM GOVERNMENTAL INTRUSION INTO OUR PRIVATE LIVES. SB 260 WOULD ALLOW PROTECTION FROM NONGOVERNMENTAL INTRUSION. ALSO: EXEMPTIONS TO THE PUBLIC RECORDS LAW MAY BE CREATED PURSUANT ONLY TO ART. I, S. 24, THE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT OF ACCESS. SB 260 IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

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).

97 CS/CS/HB 757 Exemption for Home Medical Equipment Suppliers: Identical to SB 292.

  • Pending the House Consent Calendar.
    • 🙁 ALTHOUGH NEITHER OF THESE TWO EXEMPTIONS IS PARTICULARLY EGREGIOUS, FLORIDA’S CONSTITUTION (ART I, S. 24) REQUIRES THAT EXEMPTIONS BE IN SINGLE SUBJECT BILLS. A BILL THAT CONTAINS TWO UNRELATED EXEMPTIONS IS, THEREFORE, UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

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)

  • In S. Governmental Reform & Oversight.

CS/HB 3311 AHCA/Exemption for Notification of Adverse Incidents: Nearly identical to SB 316. H. Health Care Standards & Regulatory Reform; Rep. Burt Saunders (R-Naples)

  • In H. Governmental Operations.
    • 🙁 THE CONSTITUTIONALLY REQUIRED STATEMENT OF PUBLIC NECESSITY PROVIDES THAT THE PURPOSE OF THIS LEGISLATION IS TO PROTECT INFORMATION ABOUT THE IDENTITY OF PATIENTS CONTAINED IN NOTICES OF ADVERSE INCIDENTS. HOWEVER, THE LEGISLATION EXEMPTS ALL INFORMATION IN THE NOTICE, AN EXEMPTION FAR BROADER THAN THE STATED PURPOSE. THIS LEGISLATION VIOLATES ART. I, S. 24, FLA. CON., REQUIRING THAT EXEMPTIONS BE NO BROADER THAN THEIR STATED PURPOSE.

CS/SB 364 Exemption for Medical Information: Creates a public records exemption for “any information pertaining to a natural person” contained in health, medical, patient, or health insurance records, stipulating that such information may be disclosed only upon the written consent of the person, or upon court order. Also creates an exemption for those portions of meetings during which such exempt information is to be discussed, unless the person has given written consent for public discussion, or upon court order. No House companion. S. Health Care

  • On the Senate Calendar.
    • 🙁 THE STATED PURPOSE OF THIS BILL IS TO PROTECT PATIENT IDENTIFYING INFORMATION, YET THE BILL EXEMPTS “ANY INFORMATION PERTAINING TO A NATURAL PERSON.” THAT WOULD EXEMPT NOT ONLY PATIENT IDENTIFYING INFORMATION, BUT ALSO INFORMATION IDENTIFYING DOCTORS AND OTHER HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS. CS/SB 364 IS UNCONSTITUTIONALLY OVERBROAD.

SB 468 Community Hospital Protection Act: In part, stipulates that certain proposed transfers of a non-profit hospital to a for-profit enterprise be made public, requiring that the non-profit hospital must give public notice of the proposed transfer at least 60 days before the transfer is completed, and must make all records relating to the transfer available for public inspection and copying. Identical to HB 3677. Sen. Ron Klein (D-Delray Beach)

HB 3677 Community Hospital Protection Act: Identical to SB 468. Rep. Lars Hafner (D-St. Petersburg)

🙂 THIS LEGISLATION ALLOWS PUBLIC OVERSIGHT OF THE TRANSFER OF PUBLIC HOSPITALS TO PRIVATE CORPORATIONS, AND REQUIRES PUBLIC ACCOUNTABILITY.

SB 748 Private Corporations/Public Hospital Lease: Stipulates that a private corporation leasing a public hospital or other public health care facility is not a “person acting on behalf of” the public hospital or other public health care facility for the purposes of constitutional guarantee of access to the records and meetings of government agencies and any private agency doing business on behalf of a government agency (Art. I, s. 24, Fla. Con.). No House companion. Similar to SB 1044 and HB 3585. Sen. Charles Williams (D-Live Oak)

SB 1044 Public Hospital Lease: Nearly identical to SB 748, except that this bill does not include the constitutionally required statement of public necessity for all new exemptions. Identical to HB 3585; similar to SB 748. Sen. Charles Williams (D-Live Oak)

HB 3585 Public Hospital Lease: Identical to SB 1044. Rep. Durell Peaden (R-Crestview)

🙁 THE EFFECT OF THIS LEGISLATION IS TO ALLOW PRIVATE CORPORATIONS TO RUN PUBLIC HOSPITALS AND PUBLIC HEALTH CARE FACILITIES WITHOUT PUBLIC OVERSIGHT. TO ALLOW GOVERNMENT BY DELEGATION WITHOUT PROVIDING FOR PUBLIC ACCOUNTABILITY IS A VERY BAD IDEA AND COULD SET A DANGEROUS PRECEDENT. ALSO, SB 1044 AND HB 3585 CREATE AN EXEMPTION TO THE PUBLIC RECORDS LAW AND THE OPEN MEETINGS LAW, BUT DO NOT COMPLY WITH THE CONSTITUTIONAL REQUIREMENTS FOR THE CREATION OF SUCH EXEMPTIONS.

SB 918 Disclosure of Patient Records: Provides that patient records made confidential by § 395.3025, F.S., may be disclosed to a state attorney’s office pursuant to a criminal investigation upon issuance of a subpoena by the state’s attorney. Also stipulates that fees for producing such records may not exceed 15 centers per page and $10 per hour for research and copying. No House companion. Sen. Al Gutman (R-Miami)

THIS BILL DOES NOT EFFECT THE PUBLIC’S CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT OF ACCESS, BUT MAY BE OF INTEREST TO SOME FOUNDATION MEMBERS.

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. Identical to HB 3605. Sen. Doc Myers (R-Stuart)

HB 3605 Public Hospital Meetings & Records: Identical to SB 1170. Rep. Michael Fasano (R-New Port Richey)

? WE’RE WITHHOLDING JUDGMENT ON THIS LEGISLATION UNTIL WE GET MORE INFORMATION ABOUT ITS POTENTIAL IMPACT. SECTION 395.3035, F.S., WAS RECENTLY DECLARED UNCONSTITUTIONAL IN A SUIT BROUGHT BY THE DAYTONA BEACH NEWS-JOURNAL BECAUSE “WRITTEN STRATEGIC PLAN” WAS NOT DEFINED. HOWEVER, THIS DEFINITION WOULD SEEM TO ENCOMPASS NEARLY EVERYTHING CONSIDERED BY A HOSPITAL BOARD, AND MAY BE UNCONSTITUTIONALLY OVERBROAD.

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)

THIS LEGISLATION SEEMS TO SATISFY THE CONSTITUTIONAL REQUIREMENTS FOR CREATING NEW EXEMPTIONS.

INSURANCE INFORMATION

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)

97 CS/HB 1887 Florida Automobile Joint Underwriting Association: Nearly identical to SB 746. H. Governmental Operations; Rep. Randy Ball (R-Titusville)

  • Pending the House Consent Calendar.
    • THIS LIMITED EXEMPTION TO THE PUBLIC RECORDS LAW AND OPEN MEETINGS LAW MEETS THE CONSTITUTIONAL REQUIREMENTS FOR NEW EXEMPTIONS, AND ALLOWS FOR PUBLIC OVERSIGHT OF CLOSED PORTIONS OF MEETINGS.

INVESTIGATIVE INFORMATION

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)

  • In S. Governmental Reform & Oversight.

97 CS/HB 1433 Investigations/Department of Children, Families & Seniors: Nearly identical to CS/SB 506. H. Governmental Operations; Rep. Mary Brennan (D-Pinellas Park)

  • Pending the House Consent Calendar.
    • 🙂 THIS LEGISLATION ALLOWS PUBLIC OVERSIGHT OF INVESTIGATIONS BY THE DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN, FAMILIES & SENIORS IN CASES INVOLVING THE DEATH OF THOSE UNABLE TO CARE FOR THEMSELVES, AND PERMITS PUBLIC ACCOUNTABILITY OF THE DEPARTMENT.

SB 806 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 CS/HB 1903. Sen. Fred Dudley (R-Cape Coral)

97 CS/HB 1903 Investigations/Florida Land Sales Division: Identical to SB 806. H. Governmental Operations; H. Real Property & Probate; Rep. Larry Crow (R-Dunedin)

  • Pending the House Consent Calendar.
    • THIS LIMITED EXEMPTION TO THE PUBLIC RECORDS LAW MEETS THE CONSTITUTIONAL REQUIRE-MENTS FOR NEW EXEMPTIONS.

SB 850 Exemption for Art Therapists: Amends the exemption (§ 455.621, F.S.) for investigations into complaints by AHCA and the Department of Health to also include art therapists, registered art therapists, and provisional art therapists. Also amends the exemption (§ 455.707, F.S.) for participation in treatment programs for impaired practitioners to include such art therapists. Identical to HB 3317. Sen. Bill Turner (D-North Miami)

HB 3317 Exemption for Art Therapists: Identical to SB 850. Rep. John Cosgrove (D-Miami)

UNDER CURRENT LAW, INVESTIGATIONS BY AHCA INTO COMPLAINTS AGAINST LICENSED PROFESSIONALS DO NOT BECOME PUBLIC RECORD UNLESS THERE IS A FINDING OF PROBABLE CAUSE. (IT IS OUR POSITION THAT THE INVESTIGATIVE RECORDS SHOULD BE PUBLIC RECORD ONCE THE INVESTIGATION IS COMPLETE OR NO LONGER ACTIVE. SEE SB 1286, BELOW.) HOWEVER, THERE IS NO JUSTIFICATION FOR HOLDING ART THERAPISTS TO A HIGHER STANDARD THAN OTHER PROFESSIONALS REGULATED BY AHCA.

SB 870 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 HB 3209. Sen. Matthew Meadows (D-Lauderhill)

HB 3209 Exemption for Social Workers: Identical to SB 870. Rep. Stephen Wise (R-Jacksonville)

AGAIN, THERE IS NO JUSTIFICATION FOR HOLDING SOCIAL WORKERS TO A HIGHER STANDARD THAN OTHER PROFESSIONALS REGULATED BY AHCA.

CS/HB 1197 Investigations/DBPR and DOH: Currently, investigations into complaints against licensed professionals by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) and the Department of Health (DOH) become public record only if there is a finding of probable cause. This bill, as amended, allows access to the investigative records by the complainant once the investigation is complete or no longer active. Also allows access by any legislator. Similar to SB 1286. H. Business Regulation & Consumer Affairs; Rep. Bill Sublette (R-Orlando)

  • In H. Health Care Standards & Regulatory Reform.

SB 1286 Investigations/DBPR and DOH: Stipulates that investigative reports by DBPR and DOH are exempt only so long as the investigation is active; once the investigation ceases to be active, the investigative records become public record. Also allows DBPR and DOH to disclose the existence of an active investigation under certain, specified conditions. Similar to CS/SB 1197. Sen. Ron Silver (D-Aventura)

🙂 ALL WE CAN SAY IS, IT’S ABOUT TIME! ALTHOUGH THESE BILLS HAVE A LONG WAY TO GO BEFORE PASSAGE, THIS IS THE FIRST TIME IN THREE YEARS THAT THE LEGISLATURE IS GIVING THIS ISSUE ANY CONSIDERATION. REP. SUBLETTE’S BILL WAS SEVERELY AMENDED IN ITS FIRST COMMITTEE OF REFERENCE, AND IS NOT NEARLY AS GOOD AS IT WAS. WE PREFER THE SENATE BILL, ALLOWING FULL DISCLOSURE OF INFORMATION CLEARLY IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST.

PERSONAL INFORMATION

SB 108 Exemption for Foster Care Licensees: Creates a public records exemption for certain, specified information contained in a foster family licensing file, including home, business and school addresses; telephone numbers; social security numbers; and any identifying information in neighbor references. The exemption also applies to foster parents who become adoptive parents. Similar to CS/HB 1849. Sen. Jim Hargrett (D-Tampa)

  • On the Senate Calendar.

97 CS/HB 1849 Exemption for Foster Care Licensees: Nearly identical to SB 108. H. Children & Family Empowerment; Reps. Carlos Lacasa (R-Miami); Rep. Sandy Murman (R-Tampa)

  • H. Governmental Operations Committee: Amendments made to the constitutionally required intent section of the bill; reported favorably as a CS/CS.
    • THE PURPOSE OF THIS EXEMPTION IS TO PROTECT FOSTER PARENTS TAKING CUSTODY OF CHILDREN WHO HAVE BEEN FORCIBLY REMOVED FROM THEIR HOMES, AND WHO MAY BE TARGETS OF PHYSICAL THREATS AND HARASSMENT. THE LANGUAGE IN THE BILL HAS BEEN SUFFICIENTLY TAILORED TO MEET THE CONSTITUTIONAL REQUIREMENTS FOR NEW EXEMPTIONS.

SB 112 Exemption for Employee Assistance Program Records: Creates a public records exemption for all records and communications concerning a state, municipal, or county employee’s participation in an employee substance abuse program. Similar to CS/HB 901. Sen. Jack Latvala (R-Palm Harbor)

  • On the Senate Calendar.

97 CS/HB 901 Exemption for Employee Assistance Program Records: Nearly identical to SB 112. H. Governmental Operations; Rep. Margo Fischer (D-St. Petersburg)

  • Passed the House in 1997; carried over and placed on House Consent Calendar.
    • THE PURPOSE OF THIS EXEMPTION IS TO ENCOURAGE GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES TO PARTICIPATE IN SUBSTANCE ABUSE PROGRAMS, THE RATIONALE BEING THAT EMPLOYEES WOULD BE LESS LIKELY TO PARTICIPATE IN SUCH PROGRAMS IF THE FACT OF THEIR PARTICIPATION WAS PUBLIC RECORD.

SB 116 Exemption for Domestic Violence Records: Creates a public records exemption for the addresses, telephone numbers, and social security numbers of participants in the Address Confidentiality Program for Victims of Domestic Violence. Similar to CS/CS/HB 1639. Sen. Betty Holzendorf (D-Jacksonville)

  • On the Senate Calendar.

97 CS/CS/HB 1639 Exemption for Domestic Violence Records: Similar to the senate bill, except that CS/CS/HB 1639 allows release of the exempt information under certain, specified circumstances. Similar to SB 116. H. Law Enforcement & Public Safety; Rep. Tony Hill (D-Jacksonville)

  • Pending the House Consent Calendar.
    • THE ADDRESS CONFIDENTIALITY PROGRAM FOR VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IS MEANT TO PROTECT THE LOCATION OF THE VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE FROM THEIR ABUSERS. IN ORDER FOR THE PROGRAM TO BE EFFECTIVE, INFORMATION THAT MAY HELP LOCATE THE VICTIMS MUST BE PROTECTED. WE PREFER THE HOUSE BILL.

CS/SB 140 Exemption for Housing Assistance Records: Creates a public records exemption for medical history records, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, telephone numbers, and information related to health or property insurance furnished by an individual to any government housing assistance program. Allows access to such information by governmental agencies for the purpose of auditing such programs, and stipulates that the exempt information may be used by a governmental agency in any administrative or judicial proceeding. Identical to CS/HB 1613. Sen. Howard Forman (D-Hollywood)

  • On the Senate Calendar.

97 CS/HB 1613 Exemption for Housing Assistance Records: Identical to CS/SB 140. H. Governmental Operations; Rep. Mandy Dawson-White (D-Ft. Lauderdale)

  • Passed the House in 1997; carried over and placed on the House Consent Calendar.
    • THE PURPOSE OF THIS LIMITED EXEMPTION IS TO PROTECT GOVERNMENT HOUSING ASSISTANCE PROGRAM PARTICIPANTS FROM FRAUD; IT MEETS THE CONSTITUTIONAL REQUIREMENTS FOR NEW EXEMPTIONS.

SB 1134 Rabies Vaccination Certificates: Creates a public records exemption for the name, address, and telephone number of animal owners contained in rabies vaccination certificates. Allows for disclosure only at the animal control authority, only in paper forms, only one certificate at a time, and only if the requester makes the request using the name or address of the animal owner. Similar to HB 1139. Sen. Charlie Bronson (R-Indian Harbour Beach)

97 HB 1139 Rabies Vaccination Certificates: Nearly identical to SB 1134. Rep. Bob Sindler (D-Apopka)

  • Passed the House in the 1997 Session; carried over to 1998 and placed on the House Consent Calendar.
    • 🙁 ALTHOUGH THE CONSTITUTIONALLY REQUIRED STATEMENT OF PUBLIC NECESSITY FOR THIS LEGISLATION CONTAINS VARIOUS RATIONALES FOR THE CREATION OF THIS EXEMPTION, THE TRUE PURPOSE IS TO PROTECT THE VETERINARIANS AGAINST COMPETITION FROM DIRECT MARKETERS WHO ARE SELLING PET CARE PRODUCTS AT PRICES LOWER THAN THOSE OFFERED BY THE VETS. THIS LEGISLATION IS NOT IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST AND WOULD SET A DANGEROUS PRECEDENT.

97 CS/HB 1167 Exemption for Department of Corrections Personnel: Creates a public records exemption for the home addresses, telephone numbers, and photographs of DOC health care clinicians and educational personnel, and their spouses and children. No Senate Companion. H. Corrections; Rep. Lindsay Harrington (R-Punta Gorda)

  • Passed the House in the 1997 Session; carried over to 1998 and placed on the House Consent Calendar.
    • THIS LIMITED EXEMPTION TO THE PUBLIC RECORDS LAW MEETS THE CONSTITUTIONAL REQUIRE-MENTS FOR NEW EXEMPTIONS.

SB 1180 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. No House companion. Sen. Howard Forman (D-Hollywood)

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.

97 HB 1939 Debit & Credit Card Numbers: Creates a public records exemption for bank account numbers and debit, charge, and credit card numbers in the possession of governmental agencies. No Senate companion. H. Governmental Operations; Rep. Bill Posey (R-Rockledge)

  • Passed the House in the 1997 Session; carried over to 1998 and placed on the House Consent Calendar.
    • THIS NARROW EXEMPTION TO THE PUBLIC RECORDS LAW MEETS THE CONSTITUTIONAL REQUIRE-MENTS FOR NEW EXEMPTIONS.

97 HB 1945 Exemption for Florida Graduates Program: Creates a public records exemption for the identity of donors to the Florida Graduates Program who desire to remain anonymous. No Senate companion. H. Education Innovation; Rep. Jerry Melvin (R-Ft. Walton Beach)

  • Passed the House in the 1997 Session; carried over to 1998 and placed on the House Consent Calendar.
    • THIS LIMITED EXEMPTION TO THE PUBLIC RECORDS LAW MEETS THE CONSTITUTIONAL REQUIRE-MENTS FOR NEW EXEMPTIONS.

97 HB 1957 Exemption for WAGES Program: Creates a public records exemption for information identifying applicants to the WAGES Program or recipients of WAGES Program services. No Senate companion. Rep. Joseph Arnall (R-Jacksonville Beach)

  • Passed the House in the 1997 Session; carried over to 1998 and placed on the House Consent Calendar.
    • THIS NARROW EXEMPTION TO THE PUBLIC RECORDS LAW MEETS THE CONSTITUTIONAL REQUIRE-MENTS FOR NEW EXEMPTIONS.

UNIVERSITY and SCHOOL RECORDS

SB 1186 Promotion, Reemployment and Tenure Records: Creates a public records exemption for any evaluation, report, correspondence, file, or other written or recorded communication relating to the promotion, reemployment, or tenure of a faculty member in the State University System. Also creates an exemption for all meetings conducted for the purpose of promotion, reemployment, or tenure of such faculty members. No House companion. Sen. George Kirkpatrick (D-Gainesville)

🙁 THIS BILL IS UNCONSTITUTIONALLY OVERBROAD AND IS UNWARRANTED, ALLOWING AN EXEMPTION FOR UNIVERSITY PROFESSORS NOT ALLOWED FOR ANY OTHER GOVERNMENTAL EMPLOYEE.

FIRST AMENDMENT ISSUES

97 CS/HB 71 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. Similar to SB 150. House sponsor unknown at this time.

  • Carried over to the 1998 Session, in H. Civil Justice and Claims.

SB 150 Journalists’ Shield Law: Similar to the House bill, except that SB 150 stipulates 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. Similar to SB 150. Sen. Don Sullivan (R-Seminole)

🙂 PASSAGE OF THE SHIELD LAW WILL ALLOW JOURNALISTS TO PROTECT THEIR SOURCES, AND TO ENSURE THE FREE AND UNFETTERED COLLECTION OF THE NEWS. THIS QUALIFIED PRIVILEGE HAS BEEN RECOGNIZED AND APPLIED BY THE FLORIDA COURTS, BUT IN RECENT YEARS HAS BEEN ERODED IN SOME JURISDICTIONS.

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If you have any questions or need further information on a particular piece of legislation, please call (850) 222-3518 or (800) 337-3518. This pre-session report and all weekly reports will be posted on our new web site, www.FloridaFAF.org, as well. Check it out.

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