Florida Today by Rob Grisar, Your Turn
November 11, 2019
“The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.” Patrick Henry
Florida citizens enjoy a level of access to government records and meetings that is not so readily available to the citizenry of other states. Florida was in the vanguard of providing access to government information in 1909 when the “Public Records Law” was enacted. It declared any records made or received by any public agency for official business to be available to the public unless the Legislature exempted it.
In 1967, the Government in the Sunshine Law was passed (Chapter 286 of the Florida Statutes). In 1976, Floridians voted for the Florida Government Sunshine Laws Amendment, passing it overwhelmingly by a 79.26% margin. It set disclosure requirements for elected officials and candidates, and ethical requirements for government officials.
Despite the push by Florida citizens to open up government activity to public scrutiny, the Florida Legislature has regularly pushed right back. Today there are over 1,100 exemptions imposed by the Legislature, and that number increases on average by a dozen a year.