It may soon be harder for you to see your government’s records. After a record-breaking 22 public records exemptions last year, lawmakers are back with more ideas for limiting what you can see.
Florida’s tax collectors are out in force at the Capitol. They are supporting legislation that would keep email addresses they receive confidential.
“This is really an anti-fraud measure,” said Sen. Jack Latvala.
Pinellas County tax collector Diane Nelson is worried that someone will duplicate her website and send bogus emails directing payments to the false website.
“They would make that website look just like mine, and you would think you were receiving an email from Diane Nelson the tax collector versus a fake website,” said Nelson.
So far more than 50 bills have been introduced limiting access to what are now public records.
First Amendment Foundation President Barbara Peterson said it is an all-out assault.
“We’re having a real struggle, I think, and it’s a critical time, I think, for people to stand up and demand their rights under the Constitution,” Peterson said.
A case at the Florida Supreme Court could make it harder to get records to which you are legally entitled.
Curtis Lee was critical of the Jacksonville Police and Fire Pension Fund. When he wanted to see its records, the fund threw up roadblocks.
“I would have to pay $280 to have someone watch me for the whole day,” Lee said.
Lee is now asking the Florida Supreme Court to award him attorneys’ fees because he had to go get records to which he was entitled.
“It will affirm people’s ability to get access to records,” said Lee’s attorney, Robert Dees.
A ruling against fees could make records harder to get everywhere.
The bill exempting email addresses given to tax collectors cleared its first committee unanimously. It passed the Senate last year, but never got a hearing in the House.