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Title: Brechner report
Series Title: Brechner report
Physical Description: Serial
Language: English
Creator: Brechner Center for Freedom of Information, College of Journalism and communications, University of Florida
Publisher: Brechner Center for Freedom of Information
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: August 2004
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Bibliographic ID: UF00090012
Volume ID: VID00056
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
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THE



BRECHNER


REPORT

Volume 28, Number 8 E A monthly report of mass media law in Florida
Published by The Brechner Center for Freedom ofr I,,. .. a, College ofJournalism and Communications U University ofFlorida
August 2004


Judge grants

paper access to

teachers' records
TALLAHASSEE A judge ordered the
Department of Education to release public
records containing teachers' Social
Security numbers to the Sarasota Herald-
Tribune.
The newspaper requested the
information for a story about where high-
quality teachers
ACCESS worked. The
Social Security
RECORDS numbers were
needed to
merge two databases, one that showed
basic information on the teachers and
another about teacher certification.
The Department of Education released
some of the records last year but then
decided not to release the rest, claiming
the newspaper didn't have a right to the
numbers. This spring, the Florida
Legislature passed a new law that lets
government workers, including teachers,
request that their Social Security numbers
be held confidential and only the last four
digits be released when requested. But,
the law wasn't effective until July.
Judge Nikki Ann Clark of the 2nd Circuit
Court ordered the department to give the
records to the paper within five days.
"The Herald-Tribune's public records
requests do not require the department to
reformat its data or create new data," Clark
wrote. "The department has the capability
and technology to provide the
information in the format that the Herald-
Tribune requested, which is what the law
requires."
Florida Secretary of Education Jim
Horne said the state will appeal the ruling.
Rachel Fugate, the newspaper's
lawyer, said the paper did not intend to
publish the numbers, but needed them to
determine if high-quality teachers were
being assigned fairly to students around
the state. (6/17/04)


Judge rules board must release felons list
TALLAHASSEE- A state court judge person who has requested access."
ruled that the Florida board of elections In the 2000 election, Florida state
must immediately release a list of nearly officials purged voter rolls of more than
50,000 suspected felons to Cable News 173,000 names identified as felons or
Network (CNN). otherwise ineligible to vote.
In May, CNN sued A C C E SS Accordingto CNN.com,
Florida' sDivisionof AS many civil rights activists
Elections for access to the RECORDS and county election
list, which contains the supervisors have charged


names of people who could be ineligible
to vote in this year's presidential election
because they are felons, have multiple
registrations or have died since the last
election. The state responded to the
lawsuit, claiming the list was preliminary
and should not be released publicly.
The list is a public record, but
according to state law, only certain
people and groups such as political
parties or candidates can get copies.
CNN, in addition to members of the
general public, was invited to view the
documents at the division's headquarters
in Tallahassee, only under the condition
that there was no photocopying or note-
taking.
"The right to inspect without the right
to copy is an empty right indeed," Leon
County Circuit Judge Nikki Clark said.
"Whether the public chooses to inspect
or copy [the list] is not the choice of the
governmental agency which has custody
of the record. It is the choice of the


that those lists contained numerous
errors and that these errors prevented
thousands of voters from casting ballots
in the election. Nearly all of the people
wrongfully purged from the voter list
were Democrats and more than half were
African-Americans, said BBC reporter
Greg Palast. President Bush edged
opponent Al Gore in Florida by a margin
of 537 votes to win the state and the
national election.
"With only six months remaining until
the next election, the issue of potential
voter disenfranchisement is of critical
importance," CNN's complaint said.
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson recently filed a
friend-of-the-court brief supporting
CNN's lawsuit.
"There's no excuse not to let the
public check and double-check a list of
48,000 people to be strickenfrom
eligibility to vote," he said. "The very
openness of government in the sunshine
has been thwarted." (7/01/04)


Judge refuses to order release of records


LEE COUNTY- A circuitjudge
refused to order the Lee County Sheriff's
Office to hand over some public records.
Michael F. Hornung, a south Fort
Myers attorney, sued the office in
March, claiming the agency refused to let
him inspect the personnel files of Maj.
George Mitar III and Deputy Jeff Pierot.
He also objected to a $100 deposit the
sheriff's office demanded before agreeing
to copy other documents.
Judge James H. Seals said Hornung
requested an "extraordinary remedy"


under the law and had failed to meet the
required legal burden.
Hornung said he was disappointed
with Seals' ruling and it will have "a
chilling effect on attorneys along with
the public in obtaining the public
information we are entitled to" under the
state Public Records Law.
Ultimately, Hornung obtained the
records he wanted through the State
Attorney's Office as part of the
discovery process in a case he is
handling. (5/22/04)






ACCESS MEETINGS


Lawsuit against

city claims

Sunshine violation
ST. AUGUSTINE Three people filed
a lawsuit against the city of St.
Augustine, claiming the approval of a
development at the Ponce de Leon Golf
Course should be reversed because of
Sunshine Law violations.
The Madeira Project, which includes
749 homes at the state's second-oldest
golf course, was approved by the St.
Augustine City Commission in March. A
mediator negotiated the agreement
between developer Chester Stokes and
the city.
A lawsuit was filed on behalf of
Thelma Shearer, Robert Ulanowicz and
Rose Walker, residents near the historic
golf course. According to their lawsuit,
during the mediation, Special Master
Dennis Bayer led "private break-out
sessions" with a city commissioner, city
attorney and a developer representative.
Cape Coral attorney RalfBrookes said
the participants formed a group with all
the attributes of an advisory committee
subject to the Sunshine Law. He said
there were more than two members and
they went beyond fact-finding in their
decision.
Because the Sunshine Law prohibits
two or more board members from
discussing business outside a public
meeting, the lawsuit says the mediator's
recommendation and the settlement
agreement should be invalid.
City Attorney Jim Wilson said break-
out sessions are a standard part of
mediations and that the residents'
attorney attended the session in
question. He added that the suit lacked
merit and will be contested. (4/22/04)

DECISIONS

ON FILE
Copies of case opinions, Florida
Attorney General opinions, or
!.i, 'ia.'i reported in any issue as
on file" may be obtained upon
request from the Brechner Center for
Freedom of Information, College of
Journalism and Communications,
3208 Weimer Hall, P.O. Box 118400,
University of Florida, Gainesville,


County school adr

Sunshine Law, ma
LEE COUNTY- According to The
News-Press (Fort Myers), Lee County
school administrators selected
contractors and negotiated in private
rather than in public meetings as the
state law requires.
Superintendent James Browder, his
staff and district review committees made
the selections and negotiated millions of
dollars worth of management fees during
August and November 2003.
According to the paper, the school
construction committee picked five
finalists for the contract jobs, Browder
changed some of those
recommendations, and his staff
negotiated construction contracts in
private.
Florida's Sunshine Law says the
public must be notified of any meeting
between two or more officials.
District officials also set fixed amounts
for management fees before the
negotiations began, in direct conflict with
an Attorney General's Opinion that says
the school district does not have
authority to fix fees before negotiations.
A few days following the controversy


ninistrators violate

ke adjustments
of the private meetings, Browder decided
to open up the selection process for
construction firms competing to build
new schools.
"Ladies and gentlemen, we will be
changing the process," he said. "From
now on, it'll [meetings] be open to the
public. We don't have anything to
hide."
At the same time, according to The
News-Press, he denied any wrongdoing
in his decision to expand the list of
contractors to be considered for the
schools.
He claimed the district saved $1
million in management fees by soliciting a
second round of bids and waiting for
firms to lower their fees.
Some school board members were
very willing to open up the process to
the public.
"We need to start holding all of these
meetings in public," board member
Robert Chilmonik said. "I am going to
make sure we start moving in that
direction. Let the people see what we are
doing."
(5/19/04)


Planner files suit against city, claims

officials failed to respond to requests
DAYTONA BEACH A land-use Law, correspondence between city
planner filed a lawsuit against the city of officials is open to public inspection.
Daytona Beach claiming city officials McLaughlin said he wanted to see the
violated the Public records on behalf of his clients
Records Law when they AC C E SS to determine what was
failed to respond to his J discussed between officials
records requests. RECORDS and Consolidated-Tomoka
R. Bruce McLaughlin, R C D three years ago. During that
who represents a number time, 210 acres of land in west


of adult entertainment venues, said he
asked the city clerk's office for any and
all communications between officials and
Consolidated-Tomoka Land Co., the
largest property owner in Volusia
County.
He requested the information twice,
once in October 2003 and again in April
2004, but never received a response from
the city clerk's office. City attorney
Robert Brown said McLaughlin's request
was too broad.
"The way his request was drafted, we
would never have responded to that,"
Brown said. "It's a legitimate request, but
we would never have responded."
According to Florida's Public Records


Daytona Beach were zoned to allow adult
entertainment businesses, among other
things.
According to City Clerk Jennifer
Thomas, the office staff processed
McLaughlin's request to the various city
departments that would keep such
records.
"This case was one of those that fell
through the cracks," she said. "We
never got a response from the
departments we sent the request to, and
we never responded to Mr. McLaughlin."
McLaughlin's suit asks that the
records be produced within 48 hours of
an order being issued.
(5/20/04)


2 The Brechner Report August 2004







ACCESS RECORDS CONTINUED

AGO: Board should change procedure
KEY WEST- Attorney General to keep things confidential until Internal
Charlie Crist suggested the Key West Affairs is done with a case," board
CitizenReview Board (CRB) does not chairman Todd German said.
have the authority to receive complaints Citing Florida Statute 112, the
before the police have investigated them. "Policeman's Bill of Rights," Crist said
The seven-member police oversight the board doesn't have authority to be a
board, created by voters in November complaint-receiving entity.
2002, takes complaints by mail, phone "Other than the law enforcement
and walk-ins. Citing the state's Sunshine officer or correctional officer who is the
Law, the board made complaint subject of the complaint, no other
information, including police officer's outside entity is recognized as privileged
names and any allegations against to the complaint or information until the


officers, immediately available to the
public and the press.
But, in response to CRB attorney
Robert Cintron's letter requesting an
opinion about confidentiality, Crist
suggested CRB stop this practice.
"It [the opinion] seems to say we have


employing law enforcement age ncy
makes a final determination whether to
issue a notice of disciplinary action," he
said.
The board did not vote on a resolution
to change its procedure.
(4/06/04)


Jockey, stable sue newspaper for libel
MIAMI The jockey who rode Funny printed a story that raised questions
Cide in last year's Kentucky Derby and about whether Santos might have been
Preakness Stakes is suing The Miami holding an illegal device as he crossed
Heraldforlibel. the finish line. It later concluded Santos
Jose Santos, along with -T was holding only his whip.
Funny Cide's owner Sackatoga j D L "I have not seen the lawsuit
Stable, filed a federal lawsuit in and as a result can't comment on


a U.S. District Court inLou
seeking $48 million in dan
claims The Herald printed
photographs about the joc
libelous even after Santos
inarguably disagreed with,
and denied all of the alleg
According to the South
Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale)

Court rules s
DAYTONABEACH-I
District Court of Appeals
records of school bus figh
redacted to remove person
identifiable information,
may not be made public.
InDecember 2001 and
January 2002, Patti Parker,
WFTV news producer, rec
Transportation Student Di
and school bus surveillance
from the Seminole County
Parker was reporting on a
and other misconduct by
buses, and limited her reqi
redacted to remove anythi
reveal the identity of the s
The school board refus
citing a student privacy ex
open records provision of
Constitution. WFTV filed


tisville, Ky., any of its particulars," Tom Fiedler, the
ages. The suit newspaper's executive editor said.
articles and The newspaper, its parent company
key that were Knight-Ridder Inc. and many employees
"directly and are named as defendants in the suit. To
contradicted prove libel, Santos will have to show the
nations newspaper had knowledge that it falsely
SFlorida Sun- reported the facts, or that it acted with
,The Herald reckless disregard of the truth. (5/10/04)

studentt records are private
Florida's 5t 2003, when Judge Donna McIntosh ruled
uled that for the school board. The television
ts, even when station appealed. The three-judge panel
ally of the Court of Appeals unanimously
affirmed thejudgment,
PRIVACY saying there is a difference
IL VJ\ L between records that the
legislature has defined as
luested exempt and records that are defined as
scipline Forms confidential. Student records are
ce videotapes confidential and may not be released to
School Board. the public, even in redacted form.
series of fights "If information is made confidential in
students on the the statutes, the information is not
guest to records subject to inspection by the public," the
ng that would court held.
students. According to the TV station's
ed her request, attorney, Jonathan Hart, WFTV has not
emption to the yet determined whether or not to appeal
the Florida the decision.
suit in June (5/25/04)


PRIVACY

Four people sue

DMV, claim

privacy violations
MIAMI Four people sued the
executive director of the Florida
Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV),
claiming he and other employees violated
a federal privacy law by disclosing
personal informationfrom drivers'
records.
The lawsuit names Executive Director
Fred Dickinson and seven employees,
accusing them of formatting personal
information into mailing lists and selling
them to third parties. A 1999 amendment
to the Driver Privacy Protection Act
(DPPA) says that the state must have the
driver's consent before releasing
personal information.
The suit claims the defendants
"knowingly authorized, directed, ratified,
approved, acquiesced or participated in
acts and practices in direct violation of
the DPPA." It seeks $2,500 for every time
a plaintiff's information was released
without consent.
This spring, the state Legislature
passed a bill concerning driver privacy.
The law, effective on Oct. 1, conforms
Florida to the federal standard under
which personal information in motor
vehicle records is private unless the
driver takes action to remove the block.
Existing Florida law makes the
information available unless the driver
acts to block it.
(6/11/04)
--TIIF--
BRECHNER
REPORT





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The Brechner Report August 2004 3







LEGISLATIVE REVIEW


TALLAHAS SEE- The following 14
bills enacted during the 2004 legislative
session create new exemptions to the
state Public Records and Open Meetings
laws. Copies of the legislation are
available at the Florida Legislature's Web
site, Online Sunshine, at:
http://www.leg.state.fl.us. Chief
sponsors of the bills are in parentheses
next to the bill numbers.

HB 155 (Harrington, R Punta Gorda)
Firearm Records Prohibits knowing
and willful creation or maintenance of
any list, record or registry of privately
owned firearms or any list, record or
registry of owners of those firearms;
provides for imposition of civil fines on
certain governmental agencies; requires
state attorney to prosecute criminal
violators of this act; prohibits
expenditure of public funds for defense
counsel for persons charged with
violation of this act.

HB 317 (Reagan, R- Sarasota)
Public Records Requirement Creates
exemption from public records
requirements for building plans,
blueprints, schematic drawings and
diagrams held by a public agency and
relating to specified facilities,
developments and structures; provides
exceptions; provides for legislative
review and repeal; provides specific
definitions; provides statement of public
necessity.

SB 348 (Peaden, R Crestview)
Personal ID Information Creates
exemption from public records
requirements; provides for confidentiality
of personal identifying information
contained in records for U.S. attorneys,
assistant U.S. attorneys, judges of U.S.
Courts of Appeal, U.S. district judges,
U.S. magistrate judges and their spouses
and children; provides exemption from
public records requirements for Social
Security numbers of agency employees
upon written request.

SB 464 (Governmental Oversight and
Productivity)
Medical Facilities Revises public
records exemption for specified
information concerning certain
employees of hospitals, ambulatory
surgical centers and mobile surgical
facilities; saves exemption from repeal
under the Open Government Sunset
Review (OGSR) Act; deletes provisions
4 The Brechner Report August 2004


that provide for repeal of exemption.

HB 635 (Vana, D West Palm Beach)
Children's Recreation Program -
Provides exemption from public records
requirements for information that would
identify or help to locate a child who
participates in government-sponsored
recreation programs or camps, or parents
or guardians of such child, including, but
not limited to, name, home address,
telephone number, Social Security
number and photograph of such child,
names and locations of schools attended
by such child.

SB 702 (Saunders, R Naples)
Patient Safety Data Provides that
information contained in patient safety
data or other records maintained by the
Florida Patient Safety Corp. and its
subsidiaries, advisory committees or
contractors that identifies person or
entity reporting patient safety data, or
that identifies health care practitioner or
facility, is confidential and exempt from
disclosure under public records
requirements.

HB951 (State Administration)
Human and Machine Cognition -
Creates certain exemptions from public
records and public meetings
requirements for the Florida Institute for
Human and Machine Cognition, Inc.;
provides for future review and repeal;
provides a statement of public
necessity.

SB 1626 (Margolis, D Miami Beach)
Archival Material Provides
exemption from public records
requirements for manuscripts or other
archival material donated to and held by
an official archive of municipality or
county and subject to special terms and
conditions that limit the right to copy or
inspect manuscript or material; requires
that such manuscript or other archival
material be made available for inspection
and copying after specified period or
pursuant to court order.

HB 1737 (Transportation)
Motor Vehicle Records Revises the
exemption from public records
requirements for personal information
contained in a motor vehicle record;
removes the requirement that exemption
be conditioned on a request for
exemption by a person who is subject of
record; revises certain conditions under


which the state's Department of Highway
& Motor Vehicles may release
information in connection with legal
proceeding; revises the conditions for
release of information for bulk
distribution use.

HB 1833 (Natural Resources)
State-Owned Land Provides
exemption from public records
requirements for written valuation of
state-owned land determined by the
Board of Trustees of Internal
Improvement Trust Fund to be surplus
land and related documents used to form
valuation or that pertain to valuation;
provides for limited duration of
exemption; authorizes disclosure of
appraisals, valuations and valuation
information under specified
circumstances.

SB 2496 (Governmental Oversight
and Productivity)
Military Installations Creates
exemption from public records
requirements for specified records of
military installations and military
missions subject to the U.S. Department
of Defense Base Realignment and
Closure 2005 process and agreements
and proposals to relocate or realign
military units and missions which are
held by the Governor's Advisory Council
on Base Realignment and Closure,
Enterprise Florida, Inc., or Tourism, Trade
and Economic Development Office.

SB 2704 (Governmental Oversight
and Productivity)
Identity of Child Provides that
personal identifying information of a
child or child's parent or guardian held
by children's service council, juvenile
welfare board or another entity that has
been created under that section or by
special law is exempt from requirement
that public records be open to inspection
and duplication; provides for future
repeal and legislative review under the
OGSR Act; provides statement of public
necessity.

SB 2826 (Finance and Taxation)
Public Records Exempts from public
records requirements certain records
obtained by the Department of Revenue
under insurance claim data exchange
system; provides for expiration of
exemption; provides for future legislative
review and repeal; provides findings of
public necessity.







LEGISLATIVE REVIEW CONTINUED


SB 3006 (Governmental Oversight
and Productivity)
Electronic Filings Creates exemption
from public records requirements for user
identification and passwords held by the
Department of State pursuant to certain
provisions; creates exemption from
public records requirements for records,
reports and files stored in the electronic
filing system pursuant to certain
provision; provides for expiration of
exemption and for future legislative
review and repeal.

The following exemptions were
reviewed and reenacted during the 2004
session under the OGSR Act.

SB 466 (Health, Aging, and Long-
Term Care)
Statewide Guardianship Office -
Amends provision of the public records
exemption for certain records held by the
Statewide Public Guardianship Office;
saves exemption from repeal under the
OGSR Act; deletes provisions providing
for repeal of the exemption.

SB 468 (Health, Aging and Long-
Term Care)
Hospital Board Meeting Amends
provision of public meetings exemption
for certain portions of hospital board
meeting; saves exemption from repeal
under OGSR Act; deletes provisions that
provide for repeal of exemption.

SB 674 (Health, Aging and Long-
Term Care)
Home Medical Equipment Provider -
Saves exemptionfor information
concerning patients of home medical
equipment provider from repeal under the
OGSR Act; deletes provisions that
provide for repeal of the exemption.

SB 712/HB 1813 (Governmental
Oversight and Productivity)
Business Records Revises public
records exemption for business records
submitted in eminent domain
negotiations on business damages;
provides for confidentiality; prescribes
information that is confidential and
exempt from disclosure; provides access
for employees of an agency; provides
penalty for disclosure; specifies that
information may be offered in evidence;
provides statement of public necessity.

SB 1162 (Governmental Oversight
and Productivity)


Wireless 911 Board Information-
Amends provision of exemption from
public records requirements provided for
proprietary confidential business
information held by the Wireless 911
Board or State Technology Office; saves
exemption from repeal under the OGSR
Act; deletes provisions that provide for
repeal of the exemption.

The following bills concerning Public
Records and Open Meeting laws were
enacted during the 2004 legislative
session.

SB 204 (Crist, R Tampa)
Burial Rights Provides for optional
recording of evidence of burial rights;
provides for purpose of recordation;
provides for recording fees; applies
provisions of rerecording burial rights to
all cemeteries inFlorida.

SB 1678 (Governmental Oversight
and Productivity)
Public Records Authorizes petition
for order to make public records
pertaining to certain investigations by
the Department of Child & Family
Studies; provides certain restrictions of
electronic recordkeeping systems and
proprietary software; provides that
reproductions from electronic
recordkeeping system of specified
documents and records of certain state
offices shall be treated as originals for
their admissibility in evidence.

SB 1774 (Villalobos, R- Miami)
Sexual Predators and Offenders -
Requires that each state or governmental
subdivision search records of sexual
predators and sexual offenders
maintained by the Florida Department of
Law Enforcement before appointing or
employing a person to work or volunteer
at a park, playground, day care center or
other place where children regularly
gather; allows use of the department's
Internet site to conduct search.

SB 1970 (Judiciary)
Mediation Alternatives Deletes
language of disclosure of specified
information made during court-ordered
mediation; provides immunity from
liability for trainees in Supreme Court's
mentorship program; provides immunity
from liability for persons serving as
mediators in specified circumstances;
provides for creation of the Mediation
Confidentiality and Privilege Act.


The following bills were introduced
but not passed during the legislative
sessions. Summaries of the bills are
available at: http://www.leg.state.fl.us.

HB 147/SB 2922/SB 3030 -
Exemption/H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center
SB 150 Exemption/Ethics Code
Violations
HB 337/SB 432 Notaries Public
HB 393/SB 482 Consumer
Protection/Personal Information
HB 399/SB 578 Exemption/
Controlled Substance
HB 433/SB 652 Exemption/Law
Enforcement Officers
SB 462 OGSR/Child Abuse Death
Review Committee
HB 565/SB 2122 Exemption/Florida
Self-Insurers Guaranty Association
HB 619/SB 1880 Exemption/Home
Addresses of EMTs
HB 621/SB 2416 Exemption/Office
of Financial Regulation Investigations
SB 660 Government Publications
HB 701 Health Care Consumer's
Right to Know Act
HB 703/SB 1592 FCAT/Parent's
Right to Know
HB 717/SB 1216 Campaign Finance
Disclosure Reports
HB 741/SB 1261 Identity Theft
HB 969/SB 2476 Expunction/Non-
Judicial Arrest Records
HB 1041/SB 2290 Exemption/
Financial Services Department
HB 1075/SB 1154 Health
Practitioner Workforce Data
SB 1084 Unsolicited SPAM
HB 1281/SB 2180 Exemption/
Home Addresses of Local Government
Attorneys
SB 1460/HB 1925 Exemption/Home
Addresses of Lab Personnel
SB 1648 -DEP Reports/Aquifer
Storage
SB 1660 Exemption/Stroke
Treatment Center
HB 1689/SB 2638 Unemployment
Compensation Records
SB 1972 Exemption/Mediation
Proceedings
SB 2036 Exemption/Investigative
Incident Reports
SB 2062 Records of Child Abuse
SB 2116 Exemption/Child
DevelopmentPrograms
SB 2146 Records and Meetings/Pre-
kindergarten Education
SB 2190 -Exemption/Florida
Alternative Energy Technology Center
SB 2206 Electronic Medical Records
The Brechner Report August 2004 5




























The 2004 State Legislative Session Wraps-Up
Did you predict that legislators would be so busy whether the legislation is sufficiently narrow in scope."
solving the significant problems of this state, not to Gov. Jeb Bush approved the bill on May 13, despite
mention preparing for the November elections, that they similar concerns expressed by the First Amendment
wouldn't have time to deal with a slew of open Foundation.
government bills? If so, guess again. At least 110 bills CS/SB 348 began as a narrow exemption for specified
were filed during the 2004 Session covering more than personal information of U.S. Attorneys and Judges.
60 separate open-government issues. At least 37 bills Bypassing the committee process, the bill was amended
created new exemptions limiting the public's right of in the final days of session to include an exemption for
access to government records or meetings. ISocial Security numbers of all current and former
By the close of this year's session, 15 new Karen Camechis government employees if requested in writing by the
The exemptions or employee, regardless of which agency possesses the
Bk P a restrictions had been enacted, number. The bill does, however, permit commercial entities to
B a k P ag e several of which significantly obtain the last four digits of an employees' number;
curtail access to public records, interestingly, the bill continues to permit disclosure of other
By Karen Camechis This is considerably more citizens' complete Social Security numbers, not just the last four
exemptions than have been passed in the past few sessions. The digits, to commercial entities if the numbers are in the possession
legislature also passed CS/SB 1678, which doesn't create any of the state. A House summary of the bill indicates that the
new exemptions but streamlines the Public Records Act by exemption may further complicate existing public records
eliminating redundancies and reorganizing Chapter 119. In requirements and may result in a fiscal impact associated with
addition, six current public records exemptions were reenacted recordkeeping costs.
two were actually narrowed under the Open Government Another bill, CS/SB 702, also began as a narrowly crafted
Sunset Review Act of 1995. exemption applicable to information identifying a patient and the
Perhaps the most troubling new exemption is contained in CS/ person or entity reporting patient safety data. In the final frantic
HB 155, which prohibits government agencies and private days, legislators significantly expanded the exemption, also
persons, with limited exceptions, from compiling or keeping any without committee input, to shield information identifying a
list, record or registry of privately-owned firearms. The bill also health care practitioner or health care facility contained in patient
requires the destruction of "any list or registry" by July 12. safety data. A public meetings exemption was also included for
Worth noting is that the list destruction requirement applies to discussions of exempt information.
every list or registry in the state, regardless of content, not just To close on a positive note, a few of the more questionable
lists of gun owners. The bill requires state attorneys to bills that failed to pass include: CS/HB 147, which provided
investigate complaints alleging violations, requires prosecution if sweeping new public records exemptions for the Johnnie B. Byrd
a violation "may" have occurred and makes violations a third- Sr. Alzheimer's Center & Research Institute in Tampa, and SB
degree felony. If a list is created or maintained with the 2476, which permitted the destruction of non-judicial arrest
knowledge or complicity of a governmental entity, the entity or records.
its designee may be fined up to $5 million. If you're interested in a complete description of all the open
As if that's not enough, the bill doesn't comply with the government bills that passed during the 2004 Session, please
constitutional requirements applicable to legislation limiting the visit our Web site at www.floridafaf.org.


public's right of access. In the explanation of his "no" vote on
the bill, Representative JohnP. "Jack" Seiler, D-Pompano Beach,
summarized the bill's deficiencies by saying, "This bill violates
the single subject requirement and does not contain the
constitutionally-required statement of public necessity. Because
the bill lacks a necessity statement, it's difficult to determine


Karen Camechis was recently appointed to the First
Amendment Foundation's Director position. Prior to this
position, she worked for the Florida House of Representatives
as a staff attorney for the House Committee on Natural
Resources.




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