Sunshine State News by Allison Nielsen
October 26, 2017
In an effort to promote what he calls “transparency,” House Speaker Richard Corcoran and House lawmakers are pushing legislation to abolish trade secret laws keeping information about economic development contracts with the state from the public eye.
Corcoran made the announcement Thursday afternoon in Tallahassee.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Ralph Massullo, R-Lecanto, would require any agency contract, agreement and related financial information to be public record. That means any money — whether that be through payment plans, expenditures, fees, incentives or penalties — changing hands between local governments and the state would be disallowed from being confidential.
The legislation would also define the term “trade secret,” a term which came to light last December when Corcoran filed a lawsuit against Miami-based rapper Pitbull’s production company over a “secret” contract with the state for a bikini-clad promotional video promoting Florida tourism.
The production company failed to disclose how much taxpayers spent for a television ad to promote Florida tourism. PDR Productions called the contract with Pitbull a “trade secret,” which meant disclosing that information could lead to a third-degree felony.
Eventually, Pitbull came clean about the contract, revealing the state paid him $1 million to record the spot.
Corcoran said the new legislation was part of larger efforts to promote “conservative principles of transparency” throughout state government.
Gone, Corcoran said, are the days of contracts with government entities being shielded from the public eye.
“If you spend $1 of taxpayer money, then you don’t have a trade secret,” Corcoran said. “Counties don’t have to do business with the state if they don’t like it.”
State Rep. and Government Accountability Chair Matt Caldwell, R-North Fort Myers, appeared with Corcoran, saying the new measure would “improve transparency” and “accountability measures” in Florida.
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