For Immediate Release: February 24, 2023
Contact: Bobby Block
The First Amendment Foundation vehemently opposes the implementation of new rules by the Department of Management Services restricting individuals and groups who wish to reserve space in Florida’s state Capitol to showcase their organizations and the issues that concern them.
Under the recently released rules, DMS is requiring that events held at the Capitol must “align” with the “mission” of the state. The rules also require organizations seeking to reserve areas to obtain sponsorship by making their requests through specific administration officials or legislative leaders.
Every year, groups promoting awareness of issues like environmental protection or certain life-threatening medical conditions or support for individual business sectors come to the Capitol to set up booths and displays meant to inform or inspire legislators. Protesters also come to the Capitol to speak out on issues ranging from gun control to education policy to – most recently – anti-abortion activists advocating for lawmakers to shrink the current 15-week ban on the procedure.
The First Amendment Foundation sees the new rules by DMS, which has already frozen out groups because they don’t have sponsorship, as yet another attempt by state officials to suppress free speech by erecting barriers and obstacles to public participation in the legislative process.