The Gainesville Sun by Ryan Dailey
February 17, 2021
TALLAHASSEE — A proposal that would provide a public-records exemption for “personal identifying information” about people applying to become state college and university presidents is advancing in the Florida Senate.
Sen. Jeff Brandes, a St. Petersburg Republican who is sponsoring the measure (SB 220), said it is aimed at attracting “the broadest pool of applicants” for the jobs. The Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee approved the proposal Wednesday in a 4-2, party-line vote.
Brandes said the proposal looks to address an issue stemming from Florida’s “broad public-records laws,” or Sunshine Law, that gives the public access to applicant information. The bill would exempt from public view initial applicants’ records, but information about finalists would be “no longer confidential and exempt,” and meetings with final candidates would be public.
“What occurs today is, and the way that most universities deal with this issue of sunshine, is they go out and hire an executive search firm, or headhunter, which collects all the applications,” Brandes said, adding that the process is “completely done at the firm level.”