01/28/16 – By James Call
There are more than a dozen bills filed seeking to restrict the state’s open records laws.
An exemption to the public records statute must specifically state the public necessity justifying the exemption and must be tailored to accomplish that stated purpose.
A handful of them would exempt personal information, such as residency, spouse and children of paramedics and agencies’ inspectors general. Others would exempt trade, financial and security information of contractors doing business with government entities.
Here are some of the notable proposals.
SB 1220: The measure by Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Miami, is designed to combat what Garcia called a “cottage industry” of lawyers seeking a quick profit by filing numerous public records requests and then suing governments for noncompliance when the records are not delivered in a timely manner. It would provide the judge with discretion in awarding attorney fees when a government is sued. He said he is seeking to turn a mandated judge “shall award” to a “may award” fees. The Government Oversight Committee cleared SB 1220 on a 3-0 vote Tuesday. Its next stop is the Judiciary Committee.
HB 97/SB124: Provides an exemption from public records and public meetings requirements when a contractor makes an unsolicited proposal for a public/private partnership for public facilities and infrastructure. HB 97 is now in the State Affairs Committee, SB 124 is in Government Oversight.
SB 196: Provides an exemption of financial statements of an applicant to the Department of Transportation state-funded infrastructure bank. SB 196 goes to the Senate floor today.
SB 564: Provides an exemption for records generated by the Cold Case Task Force, which contains active intelligence and criminal investigative information.
SB 592: Provides an exemption of personal identifying and location information of Department of Financial Services investigative personnel.
SB 762: Provides exemption for a petition for the involuntary assessment and stabilization of a substance abuse impaired person.
SB 1364: Provides exemption for information given to the Fish and Wildlife Commission for fishing and hunting licenses and boating and hunting safety certificates.