Tallahassee Democrat by James Call USA TODAY NETWORK-Florida Capital Bureau
March 11, 2020
Foes of a bill that would shield state higher education president searches from public scrutiny donned sunglasses Tuesday to show their displeasure — a nod to Florida’s “Sunshine Law” on open government.
About 50 members of the state’s labor unions were at the Capitol to oppose a measure (SB 774) that would make secret the names of those who apply to become a state university or college president. Only the names of finalists for positions would be released.
The Senate Rules Committee narrowly cleared the bill for floor debate and the House has passed a companion measure (HB 7081).
With the state budget taking up most of the oxygen in the waning days of the legislative session, including funding to fight the coronavirus threat, it’s not clear whether lawmakers will pass the proposal this year.
Opponents, many of whom have fought the proposal for six sessions, aren’t taking any chances.
Eric Gosnell, president of Communication Workers of America Local 3101, drove to Tallahassee from Cocoa Beach to hold a “Sunshine or SB 774 Secrecy” sign at the doors of the Florida Senate.
Similar groups — including the AFLCIO and United Faculty of Florida — call the bill a power grab by politicians.