WUFT by Sabrina Conza
March 17, 2020
The end of the 2020 legislative session spelled the end for attempts to clarify Florida’s trade secrets law to give the public greater access to information.
Paired House Bills 799 and 801 aimed to standardize the definition of trade secrets across Florida agencies. Currently, state agencies have varying definitions of trade secrets.
Similar legislation has been introduced during the last three legislative sessions, always passing the Florida House and never the Senate.
Transparency advocates have clashed with government agencies over access to records that agencies attempt to withhold on the grounds of “trade secrets.” In one highly publicized dispute, a contract to pay recording artist Pitbull to promote Florida tourism was withheld from public disclosure on the grounds that his compensation was a secret. That provoked debate over what information is and is not legitimately a confidential business secret.
Rep. Tommy Gregory, R-Sarasota, said he introduced HB 799 to standardize Florida’s trade secrets laws with the Uniform Trade Secrets Act, which codifies trade secret protection. HB 801 repeals all current trade secrets laws.
Both bills passed the Florida House unanimously. The similar Senate bills, however, were not voted on in any of their three assigned committees.