February 10, 2020
It’s the midpoint of the state’s annual lawmaking session, which doubles as open season on open government.
So let’s name some names. Which of your Central Florida lawmakers are stepping up to defend Florida’s Sunshine Law and which are attacking it?
First, a quick summary of some of what’s been proposed: Most of the anti-open government bills so far this year are aimed at hiding information about public employees.
Several bills would pile onto the existing list of government employees whose home addresses, phone numbers and dates of birth are exempt from access by the public. These exemption bills typically exempt the same information for the employees’ spouses, along with where they work, and the employees’ kids, even if they’re adults.
The state already exempts such information for everyone from cops to code enforcement officers to auditors.
The bills proposed this year would add county attorneys and assistant county attorneys, judges’ judicial assistants, emergency-room workers, commissioners appointed to the Florida Commission on Offender Review (parole board), and — this one’s the capper — elected Florida legislators and Cabinet members.
As they have in the past, lawmakers also are hoping to limit public scrutiny into the process of choosing new presidents for Florida’s universities and colleges. The big reveal wouldn’t take place until a group of finalists is picked at least three weeks before a final selection is made.
They’ve tried this one several times before, unsuccessfully. But new schemes to limit open government almost always seem to succeed, eventually.