March 23, 2019
These bills could obscure the public’s understanding of mass tragedies and violent crime
Access to public records and government meetings is a fundamental right that Floridians treasure so much they wrote it into the state’s constitution. Yet every year, those rights to Sunshine come under attack. This year, sadly, is no different.
Florida First Amendment Foundation President Barbara Petersen puts it this way: “There is some good stuff, but the bad stuff is really horrendous.”
Yesterday, we laid out “the good stuff,” including bills that would keep officials from sneaking items onto meeting agendas at the last minute, and prevent governmental agencies from suing people for making public records requests. These should pass.
But it’s easy to see why Petersen is worried about the Sunshine-blocking bills. This year’s batch includes bills that could obscure the public’s understanding of mass tragedies and violent crime, as well as bills that punch holes in public records that are relied upon by businesses and government watchdogs. Many of them are vague, unpredictable and subjective — three qualities that, under Florida’s constitution, should doom them.