Volume 24, Number 6 E A monthly report of mass media law in Florida
Published by The Brechner Center for Freedom ofI,,r. .....i. U College ofJournalism and Communications U University ofFlorida
Inmates engage in hunger strike to preserve rights
RAIFORD Death row inmates at
the Union Correctional Institution
engaged in a hunger strike to protest
newly proposed rules that would
eliminate contact visits and reduce
The proposed rules would ban
physical contact with friends or family,
restrict the number of library books inmates are
allowed, restrict the number of showers inmates
may take and limit
FIRST inmates' access to
AMEND ENT religious materials.
According to a
prison spokesperson, Debra Buchanan, the
Reporter denied access to meeting
DELAND A reporter from the
Daytona Beach based The News
Journal was denied access to a local
hospital's meeting in which officials
considered the future fate of its opera-
AC C S Memorial
Journal have been at odds regarding
access to the hospital's records and
In January, the Florida Supreme Court
ruled that the private corporation
created to run Memorial Hospital is subject to
the Open Meetings and Public Records Laws
because it acts on behalf of the taxing district's
The Court did not rule on the constitu-
tionality of the 1998 exemption, but refused to
apply it retroactively to the Memorial Hosp-
ital. (BrechnerReport, March 1999) The ruling
applies to records created and meetings held
before May 1998 when the Florida legislature
passed a new law exempting private
corporations that lease public hospitals from
Florida's Sunshine Law. (Brechner Report,
May 1999) The hospital sued the paper to test
if the exemption is constitutional. The non-jury
Bush will not suspend hospital trustee
INDIAN RIVER Gov. Jeb Bush will
not suspend an Indian River County
Hospital trustee indicted by a grand
jury for Sunshine Law violations.
Hospital trustees Richard Aldrich
and Alan Seed were indicted Mar.
9 by a grand jury for Sunshine Law
violations in 1999 (Brechner Report,
May 2000). The charges stemmed
from testimony the trustees presented
to a grand jury about several
discussions between themselves and
other trustees following board meetings. The
grand jury indicted the trustees for both
Sunshine Law violations and perjury. Seed
resigned his position on Jan. 1.
However, Aldrich continued to serve as
trustee. Both deny any wrongdoing.
According to a spokeswoman for Bush, he
will follow Aldrich's case. "Our legal staff is
continuing to monitor it and we will take
action if and when it's appropriate," said Liz
Hurst. Seed's trial is scheduled to begin in
proposed rules are intended to ensure
safety among prison officials. The rules
would guard against potential hostage
situations or the influx of contraband
within the prison, she said. (4/7/00)
Giffords file suit
on behalf of son
PALM BEACH Television
personalities Frank and Kathie Lee
Gifford filed a libel suit against the
National Examiner on behalf of their 10-
year-old son Cody.
According to the suit, the tabloid
falsely depicts Cody Gifford as "a wanton,
willful and unremorseful destroyer of other
people's property." The suit also claims
that the tabloid fabricated stories about
the young Gifford's
behavior on the set of
a movie he was in. LIBEL
The article in
Cody Gifford as being an unruly child, and
described incidents in which he spit out
food in a restaurant and ruined a pair of
pants in a store by drawing on them with
The company that owns the National
Examiner said in a press release that it
stands by the story. (4/7/00)
See Legislative Rexiew
inside on pages 3-6
ACCESS MEETINGS CONTINUED
Economic council opens meetings, but closes records
INVERNESS A recently approved
city council policy will open Economic
Development Council meetings, but its
records will remain closed.
Councilmembers elected to open the
meetings because the economic council
receives public funding, but they said the
state's public records law is too restrictive.
Two councilmembers objected to keeping
the economic council's records closed.
"The small businessman wants to know
that those (tax) dollars are used for
the benefit of him as well as the
community at large," said Councilmember
Council holds "cure meeting" in wake of violations
Circuit Court ruled that the council voted
behind closed doors on three separate
occasions and violated the state's Open
Meetings Law. The courts ordered the
"cure meeting" to resolve the violations.
Attending the meeting was local
businessman Frank Zorc, who won
Judge throws out voter rolls access suit
TAMPA A federal judge dismissed a
lawsuit that challenged a state law that
limited access to voter rolls.
The suit, filed by the St. Petersburg
Times, The Miami Herald and the First
Amendment Foundation, claimed that a law
that allows politicians access to voter rolls
but prohibits equal public access is
The state law in question allows political
parties and candidates to receive
compilations of voter information that is
often computerized. The same right of
access is not extended to the public.
Instead, the public may look at the
information but may not make copies of it.
U.S. District Judge Susan C. Bucklew
dismissed the suit, holding that the plaintiffs'
rights to see and publish voter information
are not compromised by the law because the
plaintiffs have full access to the information
and can publish it. (4/1/00)
Public denied access to fire chief records
CORAL SPRINGS -Police officials have
denied public access to an investigation of
the local fire chief for possible inappropriate
city fund expenditures.
The Coral Springs Police Department is
looking into allegations that Fire Chief
William Fyfe Jr. used public funds to take
his father and son on a trip to Appleton,
Wis. to check on the status of two fire
engines being purchased by the city in 1998.
The Sun-Sentinel requested copies of
investigation materials, but city attorney Sam
Goren denied access because the
investigation is ongoing. (3/23/00)
Graham, Mack favored flag-burning ban
WASHINGTON- Florida's U.S. senators Mack both voted in favor of the ban.
supported a ban on flag- The Senate vote ended the possibility of
burning. However, the initiative the ban's passage this year.
failed in the Senate. FIR ST In order for the amendment to
The Senate failed to achieve A/II A/ T procede, both chambers must
a two-thirds majority ona CONTINUED approve the amendment
measure that would have during the same congres-
banned flag-buring. Democratic Senator sional session. The House approved the
Bob Graham and Republican Senator Connie banin 1999,1997 and 1995. (4/2/00)
VERO BEACH The newly seated Vero
Beach City Council took up some very old
business by holding a "cure meeting" for
Sunshine law violations committed by the
In two separate cases last year, the 4th
District Court of Appeals and the 19th
2 The Brechner Report U June 2000
a $575,000 settlement fromthe city last
year after he sued for access to the
closed meetings. (Brechner Report,
Florida Bar sponsors
media law conference
The Florida Bar is sponsoring a Media
Law Conference in June. The conference
will include sessions on access to
government information, reporter-attorney
interactions, the reporter's privilege and
Interet-related legal issues. The Brechner
Information is one of N EW S
the conference co- NE
sponsors. NO TES
The conference is
scheduled for 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. June 24 at the
Boca Raton Resort and Club in Boca Raton.
Registration is open to the public, and fees
to participate are $85. The fees include
sessions, lunch and a cocktail reception.
Participants may register at the conference.
Brechner Center Director Sandra Chance
will lead a session titled "How to Get the
Public Records You Really Want."
For more information, contact Pequita
Herring atthe FloridaBarat (850)561-5766.
Copies of case opinions, attorney
general opinions, or !,.i, -i, ,. ai re-
ported in any issue as on file may be
obtained upon request from the
Brechner Center for Freedom oflnfor-
mation, College ofJournalism and
Communications, 3208 Weimer Hall,
University ofFlorida, Gainesville, FL
32611-8400, (352) 392-2273.
More exemptions fail than pass in Legislative Session
The following is a compilation of bills
from the Florida Legislature's 2000
session that pertain to media law issues.
More information about the
session can be accessed at
www.state.fl.us>, which is the Florida
Legislature's Online Sunshine site.
Bills that passed:
HB 181 Changes to Financial Disclosure
Process (Amall, R-NorthFlorida)
Specifies that certain financial disclosure
statements of former officers and
employees are public records.
HB 439 Certified Capital Companies
(Crow, R-Pinellas) Creates public records
exemptions for (1) information submitted
by or collected from a certified capital
company (CAPCO) during an
investigation or review by the
Department of Banking and Finance; (2)
any reports prepared by or for the use of
the Department as a result of an
investigation or review of a CAPCO,
including working papers; and (3)
information submitted to the Department
related to personal financial matters of a
HB683 Relatingto Lewd orLascivious
Exhibition OvertheInternet (Frankel, D-
Palm Beach) Provides penalty for transmis-
sion of such exhibition over Internet under
certain circumstances; reenacts some pro-
visions such as the definition of sc \Iu 11
violent offense," for purposes of pro-
visions such as the Community Alcohol,
Drug Abuse and Mental Health Services.
HB 1037 Domestic Violence Prevention
TaskForce (Pruitt, R-Port St. Lucie)
Exempts from public disclosure some
information obtained by domestic violence
fatality review teams.
HB 2417 Telecommunications Proprietary
Business Information (Rojas, R-Hialeah)
Provides an exemption to the public records
law fortelecommunications orcable
company records pertaining to proprietary
confidential business information.
SB 4-ALethalInjection Records (Burt, R-
Volusia) Creates public records exemption
for information that would identify the
person prescribing, preparing, compound-
ing, dispensing or administering a lethal in-
jection pursuant to a death penalty sentence.
SB 220 FloridaEngineers Management
Corporation Act (Regulated Industries)
Provides for meetings of board of directors
of Florida Engineers Management
Corporation be open to public.
SB 318 Domestic Violence/Minor Children
(Rossin, D-South Central) Creates public
to sheriffs and state attorneys by people
who take minor children when fleeing from
SB 606 Re-creating the Public Records
Modernization TrustFund (Browne-Waite,
R-Sumter/Polk/Herando/Pasco) Extends the
life of the Public Records Modernization
SB 794 Attorney/Client Privilege Creates
an attorney/client privilege for government
attorneys, but the privilege must not be
construed as creating or altering Florida's
Public Records or Open Meetings laws.
SB 836 Account Information/College
SavingsProgram (Home, R-Duval/Clay/St.
Johns) Creates a public records exemption
for information that identifies the
benefactors or designated beneficiaries of
college savings program accounts.
Authorizes release of the exempt information
to community colleges and universities
under certain, specified circumstances.
SB 890 Donors to Direct Support
Organizations (Kurtz, D-Brevard/IndianRi-
ver/St. Lucie) Prohibits contributions by uni-
versity or community college direct support
organizations to political campaigns or polit-
ical action committees unless the contrib-
ution is certified by a majority of the DSO.
SB 1256 Seaport Security Plans (S.
Criminal Justice Committee) Creates public
records exemption for seaport security plans
of a county or municipal seaport department
or a seaport authority created by the
Legislature. Also exempts photographs,
maps, blueprints, drawings and similar
material if a seaport department or authority
determines that such items contain
information that is not generally known and
that could jeopardize seaport security.
Stipulates that real estate leases, layout
plans and related blueprints are not exempt
and specifically limits the exemptions to
records held by a seaport authority or
seaport department that operates a seaport.
SB 1262 Money Transmitter Records
(Criminal Justice) Creates a public records
exemption for all investigative records
conducted by the Department of Banking
and Finance (DBF) pursuant to the Money
Transmitter's Code until the conclusion of
the investigation or examination. Includes
provision that closes records of admini-
strative, civil, or criminal proceedings if the
proceedings end in an acquittal or dismissal.
SB 1334 Electronic Commerce (Klein, D-
Delray Beach) Amended to include
provisions requiring county recorders to
provide indexes of all documents recorded
in the official records on a publicly available
website. The website must have the
capability to provide a central statewide
search site with the index no later than Jan.
1, 2002. Also extends the authority of the
Task Force on Privacy and Technology.
SB2082 Abandoned Newborns (Grant,R-
Tampa) Creates a public records exemption
for information that identifies parents who
leave newborn infants at hospitals.
SB 2250 School Readiness Program
Student Records (Cowin, R-Leesburg)
Creates public records exemptions for the
records of students enrolled in school
readiness programs and subsidized child-
Bills that did not pass:
HB 37 Funding of LegislativeProjects
(Merchant, R-Palm Beach) Would have
established a formal review process for
legislative projects not recommended by the
Review continued on page 4.
The Brechner Report U June 2000 3
LEGISLATIVE REVIEW CONTINUED
Review continued from page 4.
Governor or a state agency, requiring a
public hearing in both the House and the
Senate, and that such projects met certain
HB 125 Releaseof Employment Records
(Tullis, R-Duval) Would have required an
employer to release employment and other
records to law enforcement officers, correct-
ional officers, or correctional probation offi-
cers conducting background investigations
for employment. Also would have required
the officer seeking release of the information
to provide the employer with an "authoriza-
tionfor release of information" form.
HB 197 GovernmentProducts and Services
overthe Internet (Greenstein, D-Broward)
Would have provided for governmental
products and services to be made available
on Intemet under certain circumstances;
directed state system of public education to
make reasonable progress towards making
certain products available on Internet;
provided for responsibilities of Department
of Management Services such as
information technology; provided for state
agency information technology plans;
provided for audits.
HB 383 Statewide and LocalAdvocacy
Councils (Littlefield, R-Pasco/Hillsborough)
Would have renamed statewide and district
human rights advocacy committees as
Florida statewide and local advocacy
councils; provided for duties of councils for
monitoring activities of, and investigating
complaints against, state agencies that
provide client services; provided for access
to records of state agencies subject to
HB419 Tobacco Production Relief(Stansel,
D-North Central Florida) Would have provi-
ded for use of portion of state's tobacco set-
tlement funds to compensate those advers-
ely affected by settlement; provided for
public meetings and records.
HB 429 Identifying Information/Cash
Assistance Programs (House Committee on
Children and Families) Would have created
a public meetings exemption for portions of
meetings held by certain, specified agencies
at which information identifying individuals
4 The Brechner Report U June 2000
who have applied for or are receiving
temporary chase assistance would have
been discussed. Also would have created a
public records exemptionforinformation
identifying such individuals.
HB553 Deferred Presentments (Barreiro,
R-Dade) Would have revised definitions;
provided additional grounds for disciplinary
action, provided for continuation of certain
administrative proceedings under certain
circumstances; deleted provisions provid-
ing public records confidentiality for certain
hearings, proceedings and emergency
orders; created "Deferred Presentment Act."
HB 633 Release of Student Records
(Alexander, R-Hillsborough/Polk) Would
have authorized the release of personally
identifiable student records to the Depart-
ment of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles
and the Department of Children and Family
Services for certain purposes. Also would
have clarified provisions regarding the re-
lease of student directory information, re-
quired schools to provide written notifica-
tion prior to the release of the information
and to have obtained written authorization
for such release.
HB751 Creation of Florida Sports
Authority (Rojas, R-Collier/Dade) Would
have created Florida Sport Authority;
provided for submission of annual budget
to state audit contract and authority
projects; provided for public bidding
process; provided for revenue application
and authority to operate Florida Sports Hall
of Fame; provided for consultation with
local officials; authorized authority to apply
for and obtain pari-mutuel wagering permit;
provided for distribution of revenues;
provided for employees, etc.
HB 829 Adverse medical incident reports
(Kyle, R-Fort Myers) Would have created
an exemptionfor information contained in
physicians' and osteopathic physicians'
adverse incident reports.
HB 903 Pawnshop Transaction Records
(Bloom, D-Dade) Would have required local
law enforcement agencies to transfer infor-
mation regarding pawnshop and second-
hand goods transactions to the Florida
Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) and
required FDLE to create and maintain a data-
base of such transactions. Would have
tion without legislative authority and stip-
ulated that the database established by
FDLE could be accessed by a law enforce-
ment agency for official investigative pur-
poses only. Also would have created a pu-
blic records exemption for all records
relating to secondhand goods acquisitions
provided to a local law enforcement agency.
HB 1081 Software and Obscenity in
Libraries (TrovillionR-WinterPark) Would
have required public libraries to install and
maintain software that would block access
to obscene materials on at least half of the
computers available for public use.
HB 1099 Campaign TreasurerReports
(Flanagan, R-Bradenton) Would have pro-
vided a public records exemption for infor-
mation required to maintain the security of
anything submitted or received through an
electronic filing system for campaign
Resource Managers' HomeAddresses
(Gay, R-Cape Coral) Would have created an
exemption for the home addresses, tele-
phone numbers, social security numbers,
and photographs of local government or
water management district human resource,
labor relations, or employee relations direct-
ors, assistant directors, managers, or assist-
ant managers & their spouses & children.
HB 1741 Health CarePractitioners' Home
Addresses (Boyd, D- Monticello) Would
have exempted from public records law re-
quirements the home addresses and tele-
phone numbers of nurse practitioners work-
ing in correctional or mental health facilities.
HB 1851 Hospital Report Cards (Crow, R-
Dunedin) Would have required that hos-
pitals make "report cards" available to the
public. The annual reports would have
included information about the facilities,
such as the number of beds and services
available, as well as information regarding
adverse incident in the facilities.
Review continued on page 5.
LEGISLATIVE REVIEW CONTINUED
Review continued from page 4.
HB 1869 Home Addresses of Visitation
Center Employees and Volunteers (House
Family Law and ChildrenCommittee) Would
have kept confidential the home addresses,
telephone numbers, social security
numbers, and photographs of any certified
supervised visitation program employees,
volunteers, and their spouses and children.
HB 1897 Traffic Crash Reports (Andrews,
R-Delray Beach) Would have required
Florida Highway Patrol officers to include
whether a driver was using a cellular phone
when involved in a traffic accident. Would
have also required the FHP to submit an
annual report detailing this information.
HB 1967 DriverHistory Records
(Harrington, R-Punta Gorda) Would have
created an exemption for information con-
tained in motor vehicle records, including
social security numbers & medical & dis-
ability information. Also would have
revised conditions upon which information
was released for bulk distribution use.
HB 2027Patient Identifying Information
(Bloom, D-MiamiBeach) Wouldhave
exempted any patient-identifying informa-
tion contained in the Department of Insur-
ance's medial records.
HB2075 Privacy and Technology Task
Force (House Utilities and Communications
Committee) Would have instituted a task
force on privacy and technology.
Would also have provided for an office
within the Department of Management
Services charged with offering support and
guidance to all state agencies in order to
enhance the state's use and management of
information technology resources.
HB2289 Children and Family Services
Personnel HomeAddresses (House Family
Law and Children Committee) Would have
created a public records exemption for the
home addresses, telephone numbers, and
social security numbers belonging to
employees of Children and Family Services,
as well as their spouses and children.
HB 2321 Brain and Spinal Cord Injury
Program (House Health Care Services
Committee) Would have created a public
records exemption for information regarding
the applicants to and clients of the brain and
spinal cord injury program.
SB 208 Copyright of Governmental
Software Would have re-enacted 119.083,
F.S., which would have authorized
government agencies to copyright software
created by the agency.
SB 886 Entertainment Company
Production Records (Kirkpatrick, R-North
Central) Would have created a public
records exemption for all business records
provided by an entertainment industry
production company to the Office of the
Film Commissioner for the purpose of
receiving sales and use tax exemptions.
SB 992 Department of Health/Disciplinary
Records (Clary, R-Panhandle)
Would have created public record
exemptions for(1) all information obtained
by the Department of Health regarding final
disciplinary action against a physician taken
by a licensed hospital or ambulatory
(2) all information contained in notification
of adverse incidents provided to DOH by
physicians and osteopathic physicians; and
(3) presuit notices and all information
obtained by DOH in connection with its
investigation of alleged malpractice claims.
SB 1002 Blueprints/EducationalFacilities
(Sen. Education Committee) Would have
created an exemption for educational and
state university facilities.
Also would have created a public
meetings exemption for those portions of all
meetings or proceedings relating solely to
the exempt blueprints.
SB 1108Public Corruption Investigation
Records (Sebesta, R-St. Petersburg)
Would have created a public records
exemption for records and any subpoena
duces tecum, warrant or court process,
compiled or generated by a criminaljustice
agency in response to allegations of
misconduct or crimes committedby a
government official oremployee.
Would have stipulated that the
investigative records were exempt for a
period of three years.
SB 1110 Ethics Commission Investigation
Records (Sebesta, R-Hillsborough/Pinellas)
Would have extended the current exemption
for investigations of complaints filed with
the Ethics Commission, F.S. 112.324(1),to
include investigations initiated by the
commission pursuant to pending legislation.
SB 1278 Windstorm Insurance Records
and Meetings (King, R-Jacksonville) Would
have created public records and public
meetings exemptions forinfonnation
relating to windstorm insurance
policyholders, including appraisals,
surveys and applications.
SB 1510 Managed Care Dispute
Resolution (Browne-Waite, R-Brooksville)
Would have created an exemption from
open meetings requirements for portions of
meetings of statewide provider & managed
care claim dispute mediation panel that
contained personal information about a
managed care subscriber, or information
regarding trade secrets or risk management.
SB 1588 Lottery Telephone Services
(Home, R-Orange Park) Would have
provided a public records exemption for
information regarding fees charged for
access to winning lottery numbers & payout
informationby the FloridaLottery's 1-900
Review continued on page 6.
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The Brechner Report U June 2000 5
Bills that failed in session may be recycled
The 2000 session of the Florida Legislature could have had a truly
scary outcome, had all of the exemptions passed that legislators
proposed. But in the end, there were more failing bills than passing
bills relating media law issues.
The This year, the Brechner
Center's list of relevant bills
Back Page showed that 17 bills passed
By Michele Bush and41failed.
However, this should not
give a false sense of security. Some of the bills that appeared this
year seemed to have been recycled from failing bills last year. I'm
sure many of the 41 failing bills from our list will reappear during the
next legislative session.
For example, SB 794, which creates an attorney/client privilege for
government attorneys, passed this year. The bill was very similar to
last year's SB 1838, which failed. Also, last year legislators attempted
to pass bills that would have created exemptions for information
contained in physicians' adverse incident reports (HB 1843), and
information regarding the home addresses and telephone numbers for
government resource managers (SB 1718). Both issues reappeared this
yearinHB 829 andHB 1477, respectively.
Another example is HB 1967, which would have created an
exemption for motor vehicle records. It was pretty much the same as
HB 43 from last year- both were introduced by Lindsay Harrington, R-
Punta Gorda. Both died during the sessions. (Harrington's office did
not know yet if he plans to sponsor the bill again next year.)
While the session for this year has concluded, and we seem to have
escaped a longer set of exemptions, they are not completely behind us.
Consider the list of bills that failed this year a preview of what may
appear next year.
Michele Bush is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Florida and the
summer editor for the The Brechner Report.
LEGISLATIVE REVIEW CONTINUED
Review continued from page 5.
SB 1690 Trade Secrets (Campbell, D-
Tamarac) Would have created an public
records exemption for trade secrets
received by a state agency procuring
commodities or services.
SB 1732 Pawnbroker Transaction Records
(Campbell, D-Tamarac) Would have created
an exemptionforall information submittedto
the Florida Department of Law Enforcement
relating to pawnbrokers' transactions.
SB 1986 Media Access to Executions
(Campbell, D-Tamarac) Would have provided
that certain provisions of the statute exempt-
ing executions from the Administrative Proce-
dures Act should not be construed as block-
ing access to the media during executions.
SB 2032 Patient IdentifyingInformation
(Clary, R-Destin) Would have created a
public records exemptionforinformation
relating individuals applying for or receiving
services from the Health Department.
SB2078 Economic Development Data
(Kirkpatrick, R-Gainesville) Wouldhave
expressed the legislative intent to create a
public records exemption for certain inter-
national trade and economic development
data that were in the nature of trade secrets.
SB 2112 Death Sentence Records (Browne-
Waite, R-Brooksville) Would have granted
public access after sentences were carried
out to information relating to death
sentences that was exempt from disclosure.
SB 2280 Guardian Ad Litem Records
(Mitchell, D-Jasper) Would have provided an
exemption for portions of records held by
guardian ad litem in cases regarding allega-
tions of child abuse, neglect, or abandonment.
SB 2434 Recoi cryNetworkProgram and
Educators (Cowin, R-Leesburg) Wouldhave
created anexemptionfor inform-ation related
to educators who successfully completed a
recovery treatment program.
SB 2502 Records and Meetings (Latvala, R-
Palm Harbor) Would have expressed the
legislative intent to ensure that exemptions
from public records and meetings requirements
were enacted in compliance with specified
requirements of the Florida Constitution.