Daytona Beach News-Journal by Mark Lane
November 13, 2019
Bill to pick Florida’s university heads in secret resurfaces yet again.
Every year the Florida Legislature finds all kinds of reasons to cancel out some part of the state’s open government and public records laws. Legislators chew away at the framework of the Sunshine Law with the mindless persistence of termites.
The Florida First Amendment Foundation has counted 1,122 exemptions to open government laws so far. The legislative session kicks off on Jan. 24, and unsurprisingly bills already are being filed and considered by committees that would cut holes in the public’s right to know.
One perennial, SB 774, was filed last week. Something similar had been filed last year and in 2017, and from 2015-2013, and before that, I just lose count. That bill would close off news of college and university president selection until the final round of deciding. It’s a bill that will not die.
Under the bill, early vetting and ranking could be done in secret and the identities of the applicants would be confidential. It doesn’t say search committee members would need to wear masks and robes, and meet by torchlight at midnight in underground chambers. That part would be optional.