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Title: Brechner report
Series Title: Brechner report
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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: July 2006
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Volume ID: VID00079
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THE


BRECHNER


REPORT


Volume 30, Number 7 0 A monthly report of mass media law in Florida
Published by The Brechner Center for Freedom of Information U College of Journalism and Communications U University of Florida
July 2006

New autopsy finds teen died from suffocation


TAMPA The results of a second
autopsy of a teen shown on video being
struck by boot camp guards suggest he
died of suffocation, not complications
of sickle cell trait. Martin Anderson, 14,
died following the Jan. 5
incident in Bay County. A ( (


The video was made L .
public following a public RECC
records lawsuit filed by The
Miami Herald and CNN
against the Florida Department of Law
Enforcement. The Herald has posted the
video on its Web site.


Bay County Chief Medical Examiner
Charles F. Siebert Jr. conducted the first
autopsy, and ruled that Anderson died of
natural causes as a result of sickle cell
trait.


'"7CC


)RDS


Dr. Vernard Adams, the
Hillsborough County Chief
Medical Examiner, came to a
different conclusion. Adams
ruled that Anderson did have


sickle trait, but neither the trait
nor the beating caused his death. Adams
wrote in a press release that the teen's
"death was caused by suffocation due to


actions of the guards at the boot camp."
Adams used a version of the video
enhanced by NASA in making his
findings.
Tampa State Attorney Mark A. Ober is
conducting a criminal investigation into
Anderson's death. "I assure the family of
Martin Anderson and the people of the
State of Florida that my office is working
diligently to aggressively investigate all
aspects of this case," Ober wrote in a press
release.
Ober did not offer a timeline for
completing his inquiry.


FREEDOM OF INFORMATION

Newspaper wins lawsuit for

FEMA disaster aid records


FORT LAUDERDALE The South
Florida Sun-Sentinel's request to access
hurricane-related information from the
Federal Emergency Management Agency
has been granted by a federal judge.
Judge Kenneth A. Marra, of the
Southern District of Florida, asked
FEMA to turn over the names of FEMA
inspectors, addresses of aid recipients
and most e-mails from former director
Michael Brown.
The Sentinel sued over a year ago


in conjunction with its investigation of
potential waste and fraud following the
2004 hurricanes. FEMA refused to release
the information, citing privacy concerns.
The Sentinel fared better than three
Florida newspapers owned by the Gannett
Co. In November, a judge for the Middle
District of Florida found that FEMA did
not have to provide disaster aid records
to The News Press (Fort Myers), the
Pensacola News-Journal and Florida
Today. That case is on appeal.


FBI seeks late journalist's files


WASHINGTON, D.C. The FBI
wants access to nearly 200 boxes of a
late investigative reporter's files, notes
and papers. The family of Jack Anderson,
a longtime Washingtonjournalist, has
chosen to fight the government's request.
The FBI seeks information related
to a case involving the American Israel
Public Affairs Committee. Two former
lobbyists have been charged with receiving
classified documents in violation of the
Espionage Act.


"I've been doing this for more than 25
years and by a wide margin, this is the
most bone-chilling attempt to exercise
governmental authority that I have ever
witnessed or heard about," said Lee Levine,
an attorney whose law partner represents
the family.
In June, the Senate Judiciary Committee
held a hearing on the FBI's effort. The
hearing also touched on a proposed federal
shield law and the possibility of prosecuting
journalists under the Espionage Act.


Judge keeps

mass murder

hearing open
DAYTONA BEACH Despite
complaints from defense attorneys,
the public and the press were allowed
to attend a hearing about statements
given by one of four suspects in the
2004 Deltona mass murder.
Lawyers for Jerone Hunter, 19,
argued that more news coverage
would adversely affect Hunter's right
to a fair trial. Hunter and three others
are accused of beating six people and
a dog to
COURTS death in
August
2004.
Circuit Judge William Parsons
declined to keep the public and media
from the hearing about whether a
videotaped interview between Hunter
and detectives should be used in trial.
Parsons conceded that while
media coverage might make jury
selection more difficult, it was not
enough to exclude the public from
the hearing.






FIRST AMENDMENT


Government critic arrested during county meeting


time to 10 minutes.
According to Florida Today, when
Pine argued he was entitled to more time,
Voltz had a sheriff's deputy escort him
from the meeting. Pine was arrested for
trespassing.
Commissioner Truman Scarborough
made a motion to give Pine extra time,
but no other commissioners supported his


Senators settle FCAT suit
TALLAHASSEE As part of will include background data but no
a settlement agreement, the state identifying information.
will release background data about "We'll be getting the credentials,
temporary workers hired to grade the the degrees and if their degrees are in
Florida Comprehensive Assessment education or if they taught school or
Test. Senate Democratic Leader Les whatever the case may be," Miller said,
Miller (Tampa) and Sen. according to The Miami
Walter "Skip" Campbell A C C S Herald. "Someone with
(D-Tamarac) sued the Al 3 any other degree we feel
Department of Education for RECORDS may not be competent to
the information. do this."
The senators have As part of the
questioned whether the workers, who settlement, neither the Department of
earn $10 an hour to grade written Education nor testing contractor CTB/
answers and essays, are qualified to McGraw Hill LLC admit to violating
grade the FCAT. the Public Records Law.
Test results affect student The agreement also states that the
advancement and are used to assess the senators haven't abandoned their claim
performances of schools and teachers, that the names of the employees are
The information about the workers public records.

Indian River leaders cleared


INDIAN RIVER COUNTY The
State Attorney's Office will not pursue
charges in response to allegations that
Indian River School Board members
violated the Sunshine Law.
The complaints alleged that board
members talked about a vote to fire
the superintendent prior to the Dec. 13
meeting and that board member Ann
Reuter tried to pass a note regarding the
vote during the meeting. Board Chairman
Bill Hughes refused to the pass the note


from Reuter to Vice Chairman Kathryn
Wilson, according to the Vero Beach
Press Journal.
The State Attorney's investigation
found that since Hughes refused to pass
the note, a violation did not occur.
In a memorandum to State Attorney
Bruce Colton, Assistant State Attorney
Christopher Taylor also found that there
was insufficient evidence to prove board
members discussed the vote prior to the
meeting.


BREVARD COUNTY A
government critic was arrested for
trespassing after refusing to leave the
podium during a meeting of the Brevard
County Commission.
Walter Pine, who regularly attends
commission meetings, planned to speak
on five agenda items. Commission
Chairwoman Helen Voltz limited his total


Advisory opinion cautions against discussion boards


IALLAHASSEE The Attorney
General's Office cautioned a town
attorney against a plan to conduct public
meetings using an electronic discussion
board. According to an informal advisory
opinion, Senior Assistant Attorney
General Gerry Hammond expressed the
office's reservations about burdening the


public to constantly monitor a Web site in by the town and would allow the public
order to participate meaningfully. to participate to the same degree as board
The opinion was written in response to members. Voting upon issues discussed
a request for advice by the town attorney online would take place at regular meetings.
for Ponce Inlet, Michael Ciocchetti. The Hammond advised that extending the
town had proposed an online discussion public's burden of monitoring the site over
board that would post notice of topics, days, weeks or months "would not comply
be accessible on computers provided with the spirit or letter" of the Sunshine Law.


2 The Brechner Report July 2006


motion.
"Do we say Walter Pine doesn't
have anything valuable to contribute?"
Scarborough said. "That would be terrible
in a democracy."
County Attorney Scott Knox defended
Voltz's actions, citing her right to establish
time limits on speakers and remove people
for arguing with the chairwoman.

Commissioners

admit violating

Sunshine Law
POMPANO BEACH Four Pompano
Beach City Commissioners charged with
violating the Sunshine Law have agreed to
donate $200 each to charity. In exchange for
the commissioners' admission of guilt and
donation, prosecutors have agreed that the
violations were inadvertent.
The charges stemmed from a 2004
meeting between commissioners Kay
McGinn, Susan Foster, Lamar Fisher and
George Brummer and Broward County
Sheriff Ken Jenne.
The meeting occurred shortly before the
commissioners voted on extending Jenne's
contract with the city. The commissioners
argued that the meeting was not about the
contract, but the mishandling of crime
statistics by the Sheriff's Office.
"I think that it was an eye-opener for
a lot of public officials about how broad
the interpretation of the Sunshine Law
can be," said
Larry S. Davis, ACCESS
attorney for the
commissioners. MEETINGS
Broward
Circuit Judge Robert W. Lee criticized the
agreement, but did not invalidate it. "In
the Court's view, this settlement does not
uphold the purpose of the Florida Sunshine
Law," Lee wrote in a statement placed in the
case file.







2006 LEGISLATIVE REVIEW


TALLAHASSEE The following 10
bills enacted during the 2006 legislative
session create new exemptions to the state
Public Records and Open Meetings laws.
The bills become law unless vetoed by
Gov. Jeb Bush. Copies of the legislation
are available at the Florida Legislature's
Web site (www.leg.state.fl.us). Chief
sponsors of the bills are in parentheses at
the end of the summaries.
HB 193 Court Monitors: Creates
a public record exemption for a court
order appointing a court monitor and the
monitor's reports relating to the health or
finances of a ward. Confidentiality expires
if a court makes a finding of probable
cause. Also creates an exemption for court
determinations relating to a finding of no
probable cause and court orders finding
no probable cause. Such records may be
subject to inspection as determined by the
court. (Bogdanoff R-Fort Lauderdale)
HB 459 Donors Statewide Public
Guardianship Office: Allows donors
or prospective donors to the Statewide
Public Guardianship Office to remain
anonymous. (Sands, D-Weston)
CS/HB 605 Home Addresses DJJ
Employees: Exempts the home addresses,
phone numbers and photos of certain
active or former Department of Juvenile
Justice employees from the Public
Records Law. Similar information about
employees' spouses and children is also
made exempt. (Planas, R-Miami)
CS/HB 687 Concealed Weapons
Permits: Creates an exemption for
identifying information of applicants
and recipients of concealed weapons
permits. Exempt information can be
disclosed to law enforcement agencies
and commercial entities for the purposes
of law enforcement or homeland security.
Disclosure is allowed under specific
circumstances, such as upon court
order and a showing of good cause. The
exemption applies retroactively. (Adams,
R-Oviedo)
CS/HB 1001 Fingerprint ID
Information: Makes biometric fingerprint
information exempt from public records
requirements. "Biometric" is defined
as any record of friction ridge detail,
fingerprints, palm prints and footprints.
The exemption applies retroactively.
(Adams, R-Oviedo)
CS/HB 1117 South Florida Regional
Transportation Authority: Exempts
certain documents related to the
acquisition of land by the South Florida
Regional Transportation Authority until


an option contract is executed or until
30 days before a contract for purchase is
considered for approval by the authority.
(Greenstein, D-Coconut Creek)
CS/HB 1285 Innovation Incentive
Program: Expands the current exemption
and creates an exemption for identification
numbers, trade secrets, anticipated and
average wages, proprietary information
and stipulated taxes related to the
Innovation Incentive Program. Also
exempts sales percentages derived from
the Department of Defense. (Attkisson,
R-Kissimmee)
CS/HB 1369 Rejected Bids,
Proposals or Negotiations: Creates an
exemption for rejected bids or proposals
if the agency concurrently provides
notice of its intent to reopen invitations
to bid or requests for proposals. Also
exempts meetings at which negotiations
with vendors are conducted, although a
recording must be made. The recording
enters the public record once the agency
announces a decision or intended
decision on the bid, or until 20 days after
competitive sealed replies are opened,
whichever is earlier. i .. R, R-Milton)
HB 1451 Florida Center for Brain
Tumor Research: Exempts individual
medical records and information received
from an individual from another state,
county or the federal government held
by the Florida Center for Brain Tumor
Research. (Gannon, D-Delray Beach)
CS/HB 7161 State Board of
Administration: Exempts proprietary
confidential business information related to
alternative investments of the State Board of
Administration. The public record exemption
applies only when the party submitting the
information provides a written declaration
adhering to specific requirements. Access is
allowed by court order.
The following bills concerning Public
Records and Open i ... I,,o, laws were
enacted during the 2006 L1, 'h, d ..'
session.
CS/HB 41 Expunction/Non-Judicial
Arrest Records: Permits administrative
expunction of non-judicial arrest records
of individuals who are mistakenly
arrested. Requests for expunction must be
accompanied by an affidavit executed by
the chief law enforcement officer. (Dean,
R-Inverness)
HB 1097 Public Records Inspection
and Copying: Requires an agency
head who designates a public records
custodian to provide public notice of such
appointment. The notice must contain


contact information for the records
custodian and be prominently posted in
parts of the agency's offices accessible
to the public and on the agency's home
page. Stipulates that the records custodian
must respond promptly and in good faith
to record requests. "Good-faith response"
is defined as "making reasonable efforts
to determine from other officers or
employees whether such a record exists
and, if so, the location at which the record
can be accessed." Prohibits a person who
is not a custodian of public records or a
designee from denying the existence of
a record or misleading anyone as to the
existence of a record. (Vana, D-West Palm
Beach)
SB 1190 Sale or Lease of Public
Hospital: Amends the current statute to
clarify that, unless expressly stated in sale
documents, the complete sale of a public
hospital to a private entity should not be
construed as: a transfer of governmental
function to the purchaser; constituting a
financial interest of the public seller in the
private purchaser; making the purchaser
an integral part of the seller's decision-
making process. The changes also stipulate
that the private purchaser is not "acting on
behalf of' the seller and is not an "agency"
under the state's open government laws.
Specific requirements for the "complete
sale of the public agency's interest in the
hospital" are included. (Atwater R-North
Palm Beach)
SB 1284 Nursing Home Consumer
Information: Allows the Agency for
Health Care Administration to substitute
electronic access to nursing home
inspection reports for paper copies. Also
decreases the number of months from 45
to 30 for which reported information must
be provided to consumers. Requires the
AHCA to publish a Nursing Home Watch
List with specified information. (Fasano,
R-New Port Richey)
HB 1335 Public Meetings/Monroe
County: Authorizes the Monroe County
Board of County Commissioners to use
teleconferencing equipment to establish
a quorum for a special meeting. Special
meetings of the board must comply with
the Sunshine Law. (Sorenson, R-Tavernier)
CS/SB 1438 Exempt Records:
Clarifies custodial requirements for
records that are confidential and
exempt from disclosure pursuant to
law. The amendment authorizes records
custodians to require an agency or other
governmental entity that receives records
to acknowledge in writing the confidential

The Brechner Report U July 2006






and exempt status of such records.
(Argenziano, R-Crystal River)
CS/SB 1506 Electronic Filings/
Insurance: Allows the Financial Services
Commission to require that statements
or filings from viatical settlement
providers, premium finance companies
and continuing care provider licensees be
submitted electronically. (Alexander R-
Lake Wales)
CS/HB Exempt Information/Court
Records: Extends the deadline by which
clerks of court must redact social security
numbers, banking account numbers and
credit card numbers from court records.
The new deadline is Jan. 1, 2008. The clerk
cannot be held liable for the inadvertent
release of this type of information prior
to the deadline. The bill also stipulates
that if the clerk of court accepts or stores
official records in an electronic format, the
clerk must employ "best efforts" to redact
sensitive information. The use of redaction
software is deemed a best effort. Requires
automatic redaction of sensitive numbers
from official records and court records
after the Jan. 1, 2008 deadline. (Kendrick,
D-Carrabelle)
The following 22 exemptions were
reenacted during the 2006 session under
the Open Government Sunset Review Act.
SB 512 Identifying Information
Department of Health: Renews and
slightly narrows the current exemption for
personal identifying information in health
records held by the Department of Health.
CS/SB 792 Communications Tax:
Reenacts the exemption for all information
contained in returns, reports, accounts or
declarations received by the Department
of Revenue related to the communication
services tax.
CS/SB 1212 Agricultural Records:
Reenacts the current exemption for
records reported to the Department of
Agriculture which contain individual
agricultural records of processes, methods
of production, and costs of production,
profits, or other financial information.
HB 7007 Child Support Services:
Renews the exemption for information
that reveals the identity of applicants for or
recipients of child support services.
HB 7009 Home Addresses Human
Resources Directors: Reenacts
the exemption from public records
requirements for personal identifying
information of current or former human
resource, labor relations, or employee
relations directors, assistant directors,
managers, or assistant managers of
any local government agency or water
management district with specified duties;
narrows the exemption for such personnel

4 The Brechner Report July 2006


and the spouses and children of such
personnel.
HB 7011 Home Addresses Code
Enforcement Officers: Renews the
exemption for identifying information
of current and former code enforcement
officers and their spouses and children;
narrows the exemption.
HB 7013 Software Copyright:
Reenacts, with minor changes, the statute
authorizing government agencies to
copyright software they produce.
HB 7015 Archaeological Sites:
Renews, with minor modifications, the
exemption for information identifying the
location of an archaeological site held by
the Division of Historical Resources of the
Department of State.
CS/HB 7017 Economic Development
Agencies: Reenacts, with minor
modifications, the exemption for
information held by an economic
development agency concerning plans,
intentions, or interests of a private
corporation, partnership, or person
to locate, relocate, or expand any of
its business activities in this state.
Stipulates that such information becomes
public 12 months from the request
for confidentiality. This period can be
extended an additional 12 months upon
written request.
HB 7023 Pharmaceutical Caches:
Reenacts, with minor changes, the public
record exemption for medical facility
information maintained for terrorism
response purposes. Stipulates that the
governor's certification of the sufficiency
of facilities as part of the state's plan to
defend against an act of terrorism is a
public record.
HB 7025 Hospital Emergency
Management Plans: Reenacts, with minor
changes, the public record exemption
for those portions of a comprehensive
emergency management plan that address
the response of a public or private hospital
to an act of terrorism. Also renews
the exemption from public meetings
requirements for that portion of a public
meeting which would reveal information
contained in a comprehensive emergency
management plan that addresses the
response of a hospital to an act of
terrorism.
HB 7033 Security System Plans: With
minor changes, this bill renews the public
record exemption for security system
plans for property owned by or leased
to the state. The exemption also applies
to plans for privately owned or leased
property held by a government agency.
Also reenacts (with minor changes) the
meetings exemption for parts of meetings


that would reveal security system plans.
HB 7035 Motor Vehicle Crashes:
Renews the public record exemption
for reports which reveal the identity,
homework phone number or homework
address of individuals involved in car
crashes for 60 days following the crash.
The media, insurance companies and
attorneys of the crash parties are allowed
access under certain conditions.
HB 7043 Identifying Information
- Elderly Affairs: Reenacts with minor
changes the public record exemption for
identifying information in records held
by the Department of Elderly Affairs
relating to a person's health or eligibility
to receive services.
CS/HB 7045 Medicaid
Pharmaceutical Rebates: Renews and
amends the exemption for the rebate
amount, percent of rebate, manufacturer's
pricing and supplemental rebate
held by the Agency for Health Care
Administration pursuant to the Medicaid
prescription drug program. Portions of
meetings of the Medicaid Pharmaceutical
and Therapeutics Committee at which
such information is discussed are also
exempt. The new changes stipulate
that records must be made of the closed
portions of meetings.
HB 7047 Tobacco-Settlement
Agreement: Reenacts the public record
exemption for proprietary confidential
business information received by the
governor, attorney general or outside
counsel representing the state in
negotiations for settlement payments
under the tobacco settlement agreement.
HB 7049 Surplus Lines Insurance:
Renews the public record exemption
for information provided to the Florida
Surplus Lines Service Office under the
Surplus Lines Law if disclosure would
reveal information specific to a particular
policy or policyholder.
HB 7059 Temporary Cash
Assistance: Reenacts, with minor
changes, the public record exemption
for information in records relating to
temporary cash assistance which identifies
a participant or a participant's family
or household member. Also exempt are
portions of meetings of Workforce Florida
or regional workforce groups at which
such information is discussed.
HB 7061 Deferred Presentment
Providers: Renews and slightly
changes the public record exemption
for identifying information related to a
drawer or deferred presentment provider
contained in the deferred presentment
provider database. A provider may access
information it has entered in the database







NEWSGATHERING


Police union issues "be on the lookout" for reporter
BROWARD COUNTY A South police response to complaints. reported with Kirsch's photo. The date
Florida television reporter is the subject The advisory originally included of birth, home address and cell phone
of a "be on the lookout" advisory issued Kirsch's photo, home address, date number of Gregory Slate, an investigator
by a police union. The Broward County of birth and driver's license number, from a watchdog group involved in the
Police Benevolent Association posted Kirsch's information was removed from investigation, was also posted.
the "BOLO" on its Web site in response the advisory after lawyers for WFOS-TV The BOLO warns that Kirsch, Slate and
to WFOS-TV reporter Michael Kirsch's sent a letter to the union. a black male are "back out on the street" in
hidden camera investigation on poor But in March, the advisory was preparation for another story.


Anthrax libel

suit proceeds

WASHINGTON, D.C. -A libel
lawsuit filed by a former bioweapons
scientist for the U.S. Army will
proceed, after the U.S. Supreme Court
declined to throw out the case.
Dr. Steven Hatfill sued The New
York Times, alleging the newspaper
defamed him in columns that levied
criticism against the government for
not investigating Hatfill in the anthrax
cases of 2001.
Letters laced with anthrax, mailed
in 2001, killed
LIBEL five people.
U.S. District
Judge Claude
Hilton of Alexandria, Va. threw out
Hatfill's suit in November 2004.
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of
Appeals in Richmond later ruled that
the dismissal was inappropriate.


THE-
BRECHNER
REPORT
Brechner Center for Freedom of Information
3208 Weimer Hall, PO Box 118400
College of Journalism and Communications
University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-8400
http //www brechner org
e-mail brechnerreport@jou ufl edu
Sandra F. Chance, J.D., Exec. Director/Exec. Editor
Christina Locke, Editor
Alana Kolifrath, Production Coordinator

The BrechnerReport is published 12 times a
year under the auspices of the University of Florida
Foundation The Brechner Report is ajoint effort
of The Brechner Center for Freedom of Information,
the University of Florida College of Journalism and
Communications, the Florida Press Association, the
Florida Association of Broadcasters, the Florida Soci-
ety of Newspaper Editors and the Joseph L Brechner
Endowment


NFL mulls ban on local news crews


ORLANDO National Football
League owners have passed a resolution
that would keep local television cameras
on the sidelines during games. The
resolution must be reviewed by member
teams before it becomes official policy. A
final decision is expected in August.
Journalists will still be able to access
the field before and after games, as well
as interview players in locker rooms, said
NFL spokesman Seth Palanksy.


Barbara Cochran, president of the Radio
Television News Directors Association,
expressed her concerns about the proposal in
a letter to NFL officials.
"When electronic journalists are denied
the ability to report on a news event with
their own microphones, cameras and
production crews, it allows newsmakers
to determine the content of the news, a
result that is inconsistent with our society's
democratic values," Cochran wrote.


LEGISLATION CONTINUED


and may use the database to determine
eligibility for a particular person. Access
is allowed by court order and a showing
of good cause. (Deferred presentment
providers offer money in exchange for a
person's check and agreeing to hold the
check for specified period of time.)
HB 7063 Byrd Alzheimer's
Center: Renews, with minor clarifying
modifications, several exemptions for
records relating to the Byrd Alzheimer's
Center. Personal identifying information
of patients or clients is exempt. Also
exempt are materials relating to methods
of manufacture, potential trade secrets
and potentially patentable material. The
exemption also protects the identity of
donors who wish to remain anonymous,
information received by the center that
is otherwise exempt and any information
received that is exempt under the laws of
another state or federal law.
HB 7113 Interference with Custody:
Reenacts and changes the public record
exemption for the name, address and
phone number of a person who takes
a minor child and reports such to the
sheriff or State Attorney under exception
to the offense of interference with child
custody. The amendments reflect that
the current address and phone number of
the person who takes the child and the
child are exempt until an investigation is
complete and the sheriff or State Attorney


determines that the disclosure of such
information wouldn't jeopardize the minor's
safety. Allows access by other government
agencies for the purpose of official business.
HB 7115 Autopsy Photographs:
Reenacts, with minor changes, the current
exemption for autopsy photographs. Access
is allowed with a court order and a showing
of good cause.
The following exemptions were
introduced but not passed:
HB 787 and SB 1712 Home Parcel
Identification Numbers
HB 1005 and SB 2082 -School Drug Tests
HB 1103 Job Openings
HB 1125 and SB 2462 Legislative Sunset
Advisory Committee
HB 1279 and SB 2306 HMO Risk-Based
Capital Reports
HB 1411 Health Information Network
SB 1448 -E-mail Addresses
HB 1469 and SB 2656 Florida
Opportunity Fund
HB 1507 and SB 1800 Domestic Violence
SB 1898 Crime Scene Photographs
SB 1976 Workers Compensation Joint
Underwriters Association
SB 2040 Investigative Incident Reports
SB 2192 -Audit Workpapers
SB 2584 Background Checks
SB 2612 Ethics Commission
SB 2634 Donor Information Historic
House Museums
SB 2746 Florida Consumer Finance Act


The Brechner Report U July 2006





























The public has the power to keep government open
To say it was a rough legislative session for open about how and sometimes where we want to live, about
government advocates around the state is putting it with whom we'd like to associate. As we have seen
mildly with well over 50 new exemptions proposed this session, our government routinely denies us our
and nearly 30 existing exemptions poised for right of access and oversight without justification or
reenactment and renewal under the Open Government constitutionally sufficient good cause.
Sunset Review Act (OGSR), it was extremely difficult Equally troubling this year was the negative
to simply keep track of the bills and the various attitude of many legislators towards our constitutional
amendments as sponsors and lobbyists pushed the right of access. This negativity was evidenced not
bills through the committee process. In the end, there A only by the dramatic increase in the number of open
were 10 new exemptions created and all of the OGSR arbara enter government bills filed during the 2006 legislative
exemptions, including the public record exemption for session, but also by the lack of debate and deliberation
autopsy photographs, were reenacted. in committee and on the floor on these vitally important bills.
Many of the newly created exemptions are justifiable Debate on a bill designating key lime as the state pie is amusing,
patient identifying information contained in records held by the certainly, but consideration of legislation creating exceptions
The state-run brain tumor research to our constitutional right of access requires far more serious
B k Pcenter, for example. And the consideration, discussion, and decorum.
acK a e majority of the reenacted Yet, one would think listening to deliberation of open
exemptions were narrowed government bills in committee and critical floor debates that
By Barbara A. Petersen during the review process, but this is not the case: Too frequently, these bills are passed out
some of the exemptions defy common sense and unduly thwart of Senate or House committees with little or no debate, and
the public's ability to oversee its government, legislators offering well-intentioned amendments designed to
This session, a public record exemption was created for narrow over-broad exemptions are treated with derision and even
identifying information contained in concealed weapon permits. laughter on the House floor. The lack of respect by certain House
Exemptions for adverse incident reports filed by a nursing home members for this very important constitutional issue remember,
with the Agency for Health Care Administration and the right every exemption to our Public Records Law or Open Meetings
to inspect records held by a government economic development Law is, in fact, an exception to the constitution is disheartening
agency concerning a company's plans to locate or relocate its and depressing.
business operations to the state of Florida were reenacted. But this is an election year, and we have the power to vote
Each of these bills precludes any opportunity for public those who disrespect our constitutional right of access out of
oversight. Is the Department of Agriculture and Consumer office. So ask candidates about their position on open government
Services, issuer of concealed weapons permits, properly issues, question incumbents about their votes on exemption bills
reviewing permit applications and giving such permits only or their response to concerns from citizens regarding government-
to those who are legally qualified? Is AHCA thoroughly in-the sunshine, and cast your vote accordingly.
investigating nursing home adverse incidents and taking
proper action to ensure that problems in our nursing homes are
resolved? Is your county or city giving away tax incentives and Barbara A. Petersen is president of the FirstAmendment Foundation
public property in its attempts to lure the mega-store or power in Tallahassee, Fla. A list of all open government bills considered during
plant to your neighborhood? the 2006 legislative session, as well as a brief synopsis of each bill that
This information is critical to our ability to govern ourselves, passed, is available on the First Amendment Foundation s Web site, www.
information that we need in order to make informed decisions floridafaforg.




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