2000 Legislative Report for Period Ending March 17

Symbol Meaning
Current action
CS Committee Substitute
P Passed both Chambers
W Withdrawn from further consideration

For Period Ending: March 17

CS/HB 125 Release of Employment Records: Requires an employer to release employment and other records to law enforcement officers, correctional officers, or correctional probation officers conducting background investigations for employment. Also requires the officer seeking the release of the information to provide the employer with an “authorization for release of information” form. Allows an employer to charge a fee for the actual cost of copying and furnishing the records. Similar to SB 378. Rep. Jim Tullis (R-Jacksonville)

  • H. Law Enforcement & Crime Prevention Committee: Reported favorably.

HB 429 Identifying Information/Cash Assistance Programs: Creates a public meetings exemptions for portions of meetings held by certain, specified agencies at which information identifying individuals who have applied for or are receiving temporary cash assistance will be discussed. Also creates a public records exemption for information identifying such individuals. Identical to SB 1556. H. Committee on Children & Families

  • House: Passed the house unanimously (117/0); in Senate Messages.

CS/HB 505 Direct Support Organizations: Prohibits contributions by university and community college direct support organizations to political campaigns or political action committees. Identical to CS/SB 890. Rep. Annie Betancourt (D-Miami)

  • H. Community Colleges & Career Prep Committee: Amended the prohibition on contributions to prohibit only those contributions unrelated to the educational mission of the university or community college; reported favorably as a committee substitute for a committee substitute.

HB 1099 Campaign Treasurer’s Reports: Creates a public records exemption for personal identification numbers and computer security algorithms required to maintain the security of information submitted or received through the electronic filing system for campaign treasurer’s reports as required by HB 1097 (amending § 106.0705, F.S., to require the electronic filing of campaign contribution and expenditure reports if such contributions or expenditures exceed an aggregate of $10,000). Identical to SB 1874. Rep. Mark Flanagan (R-Bradenton)

  • H. Governmental Operations Committee: Reported favorably.

SB 1108 Public Corruption Investigation Records: Creates a public records exemption for records and any subpoena duces tecum, warrant, or court process, compiled or generated by a criminal justice agency in response to allegations of misconduct or crimes committed by a government official or employee. As amended, stipulates that the investigative records become public at the conclusion of the investigation. No House companion. Sen. Jim Sebesta (R.- St. Petersburg)

  • Senate: A “strike everything” amendment, offered by Sen. Sebesta, making the identity of confidential sources confidential and exempt, and stipulating that such information may be released only upon an order of the court and a showing of good cause, is adopted. Bill, as amended, rolls over to third reading.

SB 1110 Ethics Commission Investigation Records: Extends the current exemption for investigations of complaints filed with the Ethics Commission [§ 112.324(1), F.S.] to include investigations initiated by the Ethics Commission pursuant to pending legislation (SB 368). No House companion. Sen. Jim Sebesta (R-St. Petersburg)

  • Senate: Passed the Senate unanimously (39/0); in House Messages.

SB 1262 Money Transmitter Records: Creates a public record exemption for all information concerning an investigation or examination conducted by the Department of Banking & Finance (DBF) pursuant to the Money Transmitter’s Code until the conclusion of the investigation or examination. Stipulates that the information remains exempt if an investigation or examination does not result in administrative, civil, or criminal charges and that if an administrative, civil, or criminal proceeding against a money transmitter results in an acquittal, the records of the proceeding will be exempt. Also creates public records exemptions for: trade secrets and proprietary information obtained by DBF in the course of an investigation or examination; consumer complaints, personal financial information, confidential sources, and investigative techniques or procedures; and all quarterly reports submitted by a money transmitter to DBF. Similar to HB 1939. S. Criminal Justice Committee

  • S. Banking and Insurance Committee: An amendment to permit—rather than require—a judge to close the records of proceedings ending in acquittal or dismissal is adopted, as are minor amendments to the intent section. Reported favorably as a committee substitute.

SB 1278 Florida Windstorm Underwriting Association/Records & Meetings: Creates public records exemptions for (1) appraisals, surveys, applications and other information relating to a policyholder’s property, including its location, type of construction, and valuation; (2) the name and address of the policyholder and the producer of the record; (3) information relating to underlying property coverages on the policyholder’s property; (4) all information generated in connection with applications for coverage; (5) all information included in underwriting files; (6) claims files, until termination of all litigation and settlement of all claims; (7) records obtained or generated by an internal auditor pursuant to a routine audit, until the audit is completed; (8) privileged attorney-client communications; (9) all proprietary information and data, including computer models, and trade secret information licensed or furnished to or used by the association as part of a response to a request for proposals or under separate contract between the owner and the association if the response or contract requires confidentiality; (10) all information relating to the medical condition or medical status of an association employee which is not relevant to the employee’s ability to perform his or her duties; and (11) all responses to requests for proposals, until the successful vendor is selected. Stipulates that underwriting files transferred to an insurer or authorized agent are not longer public records. Also creates a meetings exemption for attendance at and participation in meetings, negotiating sessions, presentation, conferences, and promotional sessions by two or more association board members with lenders, rating agencies, investors, underwriters, and government officials concerning promoting, marketing, negotiating, or consummating a debt financing when the debt financing has been approved by the board at a public meeting. No House companion. Sen. Jim King (R-Jacksonville)

  • S. Banking and Insurance Committee: Various (five) amendments narrowing the proposed exemptions are adopted, including an amendment requiring a court reporter be present at closed portions of meetings where confidential underwriting or open claims files are discussed, and stipulating that the minutes of the closed meeting become public record within in a specified period of time, are adopted. Reported favorably as a committee substitute.

HB 1477 Home Addresses/Local Government Employees: Creates a public records exemption for the home addresses, telephone numbers, social security numbers and photographs of current or former human resource, labor relations, or employee relations employees of any local government agency whose duties include hiring and firing employees, labor contract negotiation, administration, or other personnel-related duties. Also exempts the same information for the spouses and children of such employees. No Senate companion. Rep. Greg Gay (R-Cape Coral)

  • H. Governmental Operations Committee: Amendments limiting the exemption to human resources managers and directors, rather than all human resource employees, are adopted. Reported favorably as a committee substitute.

SB 1556 Identifying Information/Cash Assistance Programs: Creates a public meetings exemptions for portions of meetings held by certain, specified agencies at which information identifying individuals who have applied for or are receiving temporary cash assistance will be discussed. Also creates a public records exemption for information identifying such individuals. Identical to HB 429. Sen. Charlie Clary (R-Destin)

  • S. Commerce and Economic Opportunities Committee: Reported favorably.

NEW BILLS FILED

COMMERCIAL and BUSINESS INFORMATION

HB 1939 Money Transmitter Records: Creates a public record exemption for all information concerning an investigation or examination conducted by the Department of Banking & Finance (DBF) pursuant to the Money Transmitter’s Code until the conclusion of the investigation or examination. Allows a judge to close the records of any proceeding that ends in acquittal or dismissal upon request of any party. Also creates public records exemptions for: trade secrets and proprietary information obtained by DBF in the course of an investigation or examination; consumer complaints, personal financial information, confidential sources, and investigative techniques or procedures; and all quarterly reports submitted by a money transmitter to DBF. Similar to CS/SB 1262. H. Financial Services Committee

🙁 HB 1939 IS BETTER THAN THE ITS COMPANION, BUT IT STILL RAISES A FEW PESKY CONSTITUTIONAL ISSUES. A JUDGE CURRENTLY HAS THE AUTHORITY TO CLOSE RECORDS, SO THAT PROVISION IN THE BILL IS BOTH UNNECESSARY AND UNWARRANTED, AND MAY VIOLATE THE SINGLE SUBJECT REQUIREMENT IN ARTICLE I, SECTION 24, OF THE FLORIDA CONSTITUTION. ALSO, THE STATEMENT OF PUBLIC NECESSITY DOES NOT INCLUDE A JUSTIFICATION FOR THE QUARTERLY REPORT EXEMPTION AS REQUIRED BY THE CONSTITUTION.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE and LAW ENFORCEMENT INFORMATION

HB 1897 Traffic Crash Reports: Stipulates that crash reports filed by the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) must include information indicating whether the drivers involved in the accident were using cellular telephones when the accident occurred. Requires FHP to compile an annual report detailing the number of such crashes. No Senate companion. Rep. Ed Healey (D-Palm Springs)

THIS LEGISLATION DOES NOT AFFECT THE PUBLIC’S RIGHT OF ACCESS.

GENERAL

SB 2176 Public Records Exemption: Declares that it is the intent of the Legislature to exempt specified records from the public records law. No House companion. Sen. Jim King (R-Jacksonville)

??? OH, OH. ANOTHER “SHELL” BILL. WE’LL LET YOU KNOW WHAT HAPPENS WITH THIS ONE, TOO.

HEALTH CARE and HOSPITAL INFORMATION

HB 1741 Home Addresses/Nurses: Creates a public records exemption for the home addresses and telephone numbers of nurses working in any type of correctional facility or in any mental health facility. Also includes advanced registered nurses in the exemption for information obtained by the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) in preparing practitioner profiles. No Senate companion. Compare SB 2394. Rep. Janegale Boyd (D-Monticello)

? AGAIN, ADDING TO THE LONG—AND GROWING—LIST OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES WHOSE HOME ADDRESS AND HOME TELEPHONE NUMBER ARE EXEMPT FROM PUBLIC DISCLOSURE. THIS EXEMPTION, HOWEVER, SEEMS CONSISTENT WITH THE EXEMPTIONS FOR OTHER GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES WORKING IN CORRECTIONAL FACILITIES AND MAY BE JUSTIFIED. AS FOR THE SECOND EXEMPTION IN THE BILL, HB 567 REQUIRES AHCA TO INCLUDE “ADVANCED REGISTERED NURSES” IN ITS PRACTITIONER PROFILES; HB 1741 STIPULATES THAT THE INFORMATION OBTAINED BY AHCA IS EXEMPT FROM DISCLOSURE UNTIL THE PROFILES ARE MADE PUBLIC. THIS IS CONSISTENT WITH CURRENT LAW REGARDING PRACTITIONER PROFILES.

HB 1851 Hospital Report Cards: Amends § 395.0197(18), F.S., requiring the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) to annually publish hospital report cards summarizing information contained in annual incident reports submitted by the hospitals and disciplinary action reported to AHCA. Stipulates that such report cards must include, among other things, the number of adverse incidents at each hospital and a listing of the types of operations, diagnostic or treatment procedures, or other actions that resulted in the adverse incidents. Similar to SB 1858. Rep. Larry Crow (R-Dunedin)

🙂 WE LIKE THIS BILL! CURRENT LAW [§ 395.0197(18)] REQUIRES THAT AHCA MAKE HOSPITAL REPORT CARDS AVAILABLE, BUT SEN. BROWN-WAITE’S BILL WOULD EXPAND THE INFORMATION THAT MUST BE REPORTED TO THE PUBLIC TO INCLUDE THE INFORMATION ON ADVERSE INCIDENTS. THIS IS AS IT SHOULD BE. RECENT FIGURES FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SHOW THAT 98,000 PEOPLE DIE FROM MEDICAL MISTAKES EACH YEAR IN THIS COUNTRY (THE 8TH LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH), AND CONGRESS IS NOW CONSIDERING LEGISLATION THAT WOULD REQUIRE ALL HOSPITALS TO MAKE INFORMATION ABOUT SUCH INCIDENTS PUBLICLY AVAILABLE. INTERESTINGLY, OUR LEGISLATURE PASSED A LAW IN 1998 THAT EXEMPTS FROM PUBLIC DISCLOSURE ALL INFORMATION IN HOSPITAL ADVERSE INCIDENT REPORTS, AND THERE ARE BILLS FILED THIS YEAR (HB 829 AND SB 992) THAT WOULD EXEMPT ADVERSE INCIDENTS REPORTED BY DOCTORS.

HB 1903 Exemption/Abandoned Infants: Creates a public records exemption for the identity of parents who leave a newborn infant with a hospital. Similar to SB 2082. Rep. Sandra Murman (R-Tampa)

THIS LEGISLATION, CREATING A LIMITED EXEMPTION TO THE PUBLIC’S RIGHT OF ACCESS, COMPLIES WITH THE CONSTITUTIONAL REQUIREMENTS FOR CREATING NEW EXEMPTIONS.

SB 2394 Exemption/Health Care Practitioners: Creates a public records exemption for information relating to an expunged criminal history records provided by a health care practitioner to the Department of Health (DOH). Prohibits an employee of the DOH from releasing such information. Also includes advanced registered nurses in the exemption for information obtained by the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) in preparing practitioner profiles. No House companion. Compare HB 1741. Sen. Skip Campbell (D-Tamarac)

🙁 ALTHOUGH WE DON’T HAVE A PROBLEM WITH THE EXEMPTION FOR INFORMATION ON ADVANCED REGISTERED NURSES OBTAINED BY AHCA IN PREPARING PRACTITIONER PROFILES (THE EXEMPTION IS TEMPORARY), WE HAVE A BIG PROBLEM WITH THE EXEMPTION FOR INFORMATION RELATING TO EXPUNGED CRIMINAL HISTORY RECORDS. ACCORDING TO THE STATEMENT OF PUBLIC NECESSITY, THIS EXEMPTION IS JUSTIFIED BECAUSE IT “MAY ADVERSELY AFFECT THE INTEGRITY AND TRUST OF . . . A PRACTITIONER-PATIENT RELATIONSHIP.” WELL, DUH! BUT WOULDN’T YOU WANT TO KNOW THAT THE NURSE YOU’VE HIRED TO CARE FOR YOUR ELDERLY PARENTS HAD A CRIMINAL RECORD? EVEN IF IT WAS EXPUNGED? THIS IS BAD PUBLIC POLICY.

SCHOOLS and UNIVERSITIES

SB 2250 School Readiness Programs: Creates a public records exemptions for individual records of children enrolled in (1) subsidized child-care programs and (2) school readiness programs. Defines “records” to include assessment data, health data, records of teacher observations, and identifying data, including a child’s social security number. Allows access to the exempt records by a child’s parent or guardian. Also provides access to school readiness coalitions and the Florida Partnership for School Readiness. No House companion. Sen. Anna Cowin (R-Leesburg)

? ALTHOUGH WE DON’T REALLY OBJECT TO THE PURPOSE OF THIS LEGISLATION, WHICH IS TO PROVIDE THE SAME LEVEL OF PROTECTION TO THE SCHOOL RECORDS OF KIDS IN GOVERNMENT SUBSIDIZED CHILD-CARE PROGRAMS AND SCHOOL READINESS PROGRAMS AS IS CURRENTLY PROVIDED TO KIDS IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS, THE CONSTITUTIONALLY-REQUIRED STATEMENT OF PUBLIC NECESSITY IS WOEFULLY INADEQUATE.

SB 2434 Educators/Recovery Network: Creates a public records exemption for the records of an educator who is in a recovery network treatment program or an educator who has entered into a deferred prosecution agreement and has successfully completed the recovery network treatment program. No House companion. Sen. Anna Cowin (R-Leesburg)

? CURRENTLY, RECORDS PERTAINING TO THE PARTICIPATION OF CERTAIN, SPECIFIED GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES IN SUBSTANCE ABUSE PROGRAMS ARE EXEMPT FROM PUBLIC DISCLOSURE. THE PURPOSE OF THE EXEMPTION IS TO ENCOURAGE THOSE EMPLOYEES WITH SUBSTANCE ABUSE PROBLEMS TO PARTICIPATE IN SUCH PROGRAMS. THIS BILL BY SEN. COWIN SEEMS SIMILAR, BUT WE HAVE TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE “RECOVERY NETWORK TREATMENT PROGRAM.” ALSO, THE EXEMPTION IS OVERBROAD AND SHOULD BE AMENDED TO APPLY ONLY TO THOSE RECORDS PERTAINING TO PARTICIPATION IN THE PROGRAM.

SOCIAL SERVICES

HB 1869 Home Addresses/Visitation Center Employees & Volunteers: Creates a public records exemption for the home addresses, telephone numbers, social security numbers, and photographs of employees and volunteers of any certified supervised visitation program. Also exempts the same information, as well as place of employment and the names and location of schools, for the spouses and children of such employees. No Senate companion. Rep. Beryl Roberts (D-Miami)

? THIS PROPOSED EXEMPTION MAY BE JUSTIFIED, BUT WE’RE WITHHOLDING JUDGMENT UNTIL WE CAN GET ADDITIONAL INFORMATION. THIS BILL IS TIED TO HB 1871, WHICH, IN PART, CREATES THE OFFICE FOR CERTIFICATION & MONITORING OF SUPERVISED VISITATION PROGRAMS UNDER CLEARINGHOUSE ON SUPERVISED VISITATION WITHIN THE INSTITUTE FOR FAMILY VIOLENCE STUDIES OF FSU SCHOOL OF SOCIAL WORK.

SB 2280 Child Abuse Records/Guardian Ad Litem: Creates a public records exemption for all records held by a guardian ad litem in cases regarding allegations of abuse, neglect, or abandonment of a child. No House companion. Sen. Richard Mitchell (D-Jasper)

🙁 WE’RE NOT OPPOSED TO THE INTENT OF THIS LEGISLATION—TO PROTECT BOTH SENSITIVE INFORMATION CONCERNING A CHILD AND THE CHILD’S SAFETY—BUT THE BILL, AS DRAFTED, IS UNCONSTITUTIONALLY OVERBROAD IN THAT IT EXEMPTS THE ENTIRE RECORD RATHER THAN ONLY THAT INFORMATION SPECIFIED IN THE STATEMENT OF PUBLIC NECESSITY.

SB 2352 Child Death Review Records and Meetings: Creates a public records exemption for all reports and records of the State Child Death Review Committee which relate only to child fatalities and in which specific persons or incidents are discussed. Also creates a public meetings exemptions for those portions of meeting at which such records are discussed. Stipulates that all confidential or exempt information obtained by the State Child Death Review Committee retains its exempt status, as does all confidential or exempt information obtained by a hospital or a health care practitioner from the Committee. No House companion. Sen. Ron Silver (D-N. Miami)

🙁 THIS BILL IS VERY SIMILAR TO LEGISLATION PASSED LAST YEAR CREATING EXEMPTIONS FOR THE STATE CHILD ABUSE DEATH REVIEW COMMITTEE (SB 928), AND WE’RE TRYING TO DISCOVER WHETHER SB 2352 IS ACTUALLY NECESSARY IN LIGHT OF LAST YEAR’S ACTION. IF SO, THE BILL, AS DRAFTED, IS UNCONSTITUTIONALLY OVERBROAD.

SB 2420 Department of Children & Family Services: Expands the exemption for the home address and telephone number of certain DCFS employees to also include those employees providing services to abused, neglected, abandoned, or exploited children, disabled adults, and elderly persons. Also amends § 119.07(7), F.S., to allow DCFS to petition a court for the immediate public release of records of investigations of the death of a child, a disabled adult, or an elderly person when the death has not yet been determined to be the result of abuse, abandonment, or neglect, and in those cases involving the death of a child, a disabled adult, or an elderly person. No House companion. Sen. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Miami)

🙂 / 🙁 / ? OUR RESPONSE TO THIS BILL IS HITTING ALL THE BASES—GOOD, BAD, AND HUH?— BECAUSE THE BILL CREATES AN EXEMPTION AND PROVIDES AN AVENUE FOR OPENING RECORDS. FOR THAT REASON, SB 2420 MIGHT VIOLATE THE SINGLE SUBJECT REQUIREMENT IN ARTICLE I, SECTION 24, OF THE FLORIDA CONSTITUTION. THE LIST OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES WHOSE HOME ADDRESS IS EXEMPT FROM PUBLIC DISCLOSURE IS GETTING RIDICULOUSLY LONG, AND WE HAVE TO TAKE A VERY CAREFUL LOOK AT THE JUSTIFICATION FOR SUCH CLOSURE. AS FOR ACCESS TO THE INVESTIGATIVE RECORDS, IT’S A GREAT IDEA TO LET DCFS TO PETITION THE COURT, BUT WHY CAN’T A CITIZEN OR REPORTER HAVE THE SAME RIGHT?

SB 2386 Non-Title IV-D Child Support Enforcement Services: Creates a public records exemption for information identifying recipients of or applicants for non-Title IV-D child support enforcement services provided by a county agency. No House companion. Sen. Howard Forman (D-Cooper City)

THIS LEGISLATION, CREATING A LIMITED EXEMPTION TO THE PUBLIC’S RIGHT OF ACCESS, COMPLIES WITH THE CONSTITUTIONAL REQUIREMENTS FOR CREATING NEW EXEMPTIONS.

—-*—-

It’s rare when we get to report GOOD news to our members, so we get rather excited when given the opportunity. On Thursday, the Florida Senate passed legislation, CS/CS/HB 181, which, in part, requires ALL elected and appointed officials to complete a 3-hour course on the requirements of Florida’s ethics law AND our public records and sunshine laws within the first year of taking office. After that first year, the course must be repeated every four years. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Burt Saunders (R-Naples) and Sen. President Toni Jennings (R-Orlando) deserve our support and encouragement for taking the lead on this issue. Because the Senate amended the House version (in a commonly-used procedural move, the Senate took up the House bill, struck everything in the bill, and inserted the substance of the Senate companion, CS/CS/SB 368), CS/CS/HB 181 must go back to the House for approval. We’ll be contacting House Speaker John Thrasher (R-Orange Park), urging the House to support the bill as amended.

We also need to commend Sen. Jim Sebesta (R-St. Petersburg) for his willingness to work with us on SB 1108, the exemption for public corruption investigations. As you know, we had serious concerns with the bill as filed. In direct response to our concerns, Sen. Sebesta and staff drafted an amendment to the bill, adopted by the Senate on Thursday, which amends the exemption for confidential sources and confidential informants. Under current law, the identity of such sources and informants are exempt from public disclosure. Under the Sebesta amendment, the identity of confidential sources and informants is confidential and exempt, and can be released only upon court order and a showing of good cause. This amendment offers increased protection to the confidential source, but does not significantly impact the public’s right of access. Needless to say, it’s a vast improvement on the bill as originally filed, and we should all be pleased with Sen. Sebesta’s efforts to address our concerns.

If you want more information, please call the Foundation at (800) 337-3518 or, in Tallahassee, 222-3518.

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