The public’s right to know is threatened in the Florida Legislature

Florida Phoenix by Lucy Morgan

March 13, 2019

Sometimes I wonder if the Florida Legislature lives to please the National Rifle Association.

One potential gift for the NRA and its gun toting supporters in this year’s legislative session includes a little bill that would make photographs, video or audio recordings that depict the scene of a mass killing exempt from the public records law. It has sparked objections from First Amendment advocates and news organizations that have used videos and audio recordings to chronicle the response to shootings in several instances.

Of course you’ll never find the NRA’s fingerprints on the bill. And the NRA’s lobbyist, Marion Hammer, says she didn’t produce the bill and has merely put it on her “tracking list.’’

“We have no position on it,’’ Hammer said in an email.

Legislators say Hammer has not contacted them, but they all know such crime scenes produce more and more support for gun control.

Sen. Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa, who is sponsoring the Senate version along with Sen. Lauren Book, D-Plantation, said he believes the bill will be amended from its current form to improve access to information. He is working with the First Amendment Foundation to make the bill less restrictive.

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