Treasure Coast Newspapers Editorial
May 4, 2017
Treasure Coast residents should remember how their state representatives voted Tuesday: Erin Grall, R-Vero Beach, and Larry Lee, D-Port St. Lucie, voted against a bill that would have gutted Floridians’ right to open government. Gayle Harrell, R-Stuart, and MaryLynn Magar, R-Tequesta, supported a ridiculous measure from Byron Donalds, R-Naples, that would have allowed two members of public boards and commissions to meet secretly and discuss government business.
Florida’s Sunshine Law, which prohibits such closed-door meetings, has been critical to root out the kind of backroom deal-making and insider deals that plague governments in many other states. The Sunshine Law is imperfect, but it’s essential to regulating lawmakers’ bad behavior.
Grall and Lee deserve credit for standing up for average Floridians. They were outvoted 68-48. However, the bill failed thanks to a 2002 constitutional amendment that requires a two-thirds’ vote (80 votes in the House) to approve exemptions to the Sunshine Law. This bill was so bad it was the first time a proposed exemption did not meet the 80-vote threshold for passage, according to Barbara Petersen, president of Florida’s First Amendment Foundation. [READ MORE]