News-Press by Tom Hayden
January 9, 2018
Byron Donalds, R-Naples, who represents parts of Collier and Hendry counties in the Florida House, is playing a little game of hide and seek with our open meetings laws.
Last year, he failed to get a bill passed that would have allowed two elected members of a governing body to meet in private to discuss future business, a clear violation of current Sunshine laws.
For this year’s legislative session, which started Tuesday, he is attempting to pass a rewritten version of the bill (HB 439), cleverly disguised, that would allow governing bodies to meet in private, with an attorney, to discuss “imminent litigation.” Donald’s has an accomplice, Sarasota Sen. Greg Steube, who has filed a similar version (SB 560) in the Senate.
Both bills offer too much maneuvering for voting bodies. Currently, elected officials can meet in private, with an attorney, to discuss pending litigation, or where that body is already part of a legal case. With these bills, government bodies could look at any issue, and in their minds if there is the possibility of filed legal action, begin to meet in private. [READ MORE]