Title: Brechner report
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00090012/00103
 Material Information
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: July 2008
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00090012
Volume ID: VID00103
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.


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Volume 32, 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 0 University of Florida
July 2008
Supreme Court upholds child pornography law

Court ruled that offering or seeking child
pornography is a federal crime, even
where no such pornography exists.
In the 7-2 decision U.S. v. Williams,
the Court
upheld FIRST
the 2003
and rejected the

it could apply to movies that depict
adolescent sex or the exchange of non-
pornographic material. Scalia said the
law applies when the purveyor of the
material believes or wants someone else
to believe he has pornographic
images of real children. The law
applies to simulated sc \ullI
T explicit conduct" where the actors
involved are real children, and the

notion that such claims are free speech. "portrayal must cause a reasonable viewer
In the majority opinion, Justice to believe that the actors actually engaged
Antonin Scalia said, "We hold that offers in that conduct."
to provide or requests to obtain child Joan Bertin, the executive director
pornography are categorically excluded of the National Coalition Against
from the First Amendment." Censorship, said Scalia's narrow holding
Opponents of the law argued that should result in "considerably less

Judge orders Council members to
VENICE After an emergency notice of meetings so interested citizens
hearing, a circuit judge ruled three Venice can attend.
City Council members must allow a The lawsuit could determine how
computer expert to obtain government the Sunshine Law deals with modem
business e-mails from their home communication. The law "was written
computers. when we didn't have the same kind of
Mayor Ed Martin and Council texting and e-mailing [as today]," said
Members John Moore and John Sandra Chance, executive director of
Simmonds must provide access to their the Brechner Center for Freedom of
home computers so that any public Information, according to the Sarasota
records can be saved. A lawsuit filed Herald-Tribune.
recently by a citizen claims that four The council members' business
council members violated the Open e-mails are commingled with personal
Meetings Law by discussing city business e-mails on their home computers, which
in private e-mails. are sometimes shared by other family
The Open Meetings Law requires members.

University posts
GAINESVILLE University of
Florida officials informed over 11,000
students their names, addresses, and
Social Security numbers were posted
online for over four years.
A routine systems audit revealed the
breach of the system used by students in
UF's Office for Academic Support and
Institutional Service between 2003 and
Student employees posted the personal

damage [to individuals' First Amendment
rights] than it might otherwise have
done," according to the Pensacola
News-Journal. Bertin said, though, that
prosecutors could still use the law to
punish innocent people and put them
"through a terrible ordeal," according to
the Pensacola News-Journal.
"Perhaps I am wrong, but without
some demonstration that juries have
been rendering exploitation of children
unpunishable, there is no excuse for
cutting back on the First Amendment,"
said Justice David Souter, joined by
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in dissent.
Source: The Palm Beach Post and the
Pensacola News-Journal

turn over e-mails
Judge Robert Bennett's ruling means
"personal information [and] medical stuff
that's nobody's business" would be made
public, said Simmonds, who admitted
deleting business e-mails, according to
the Herald-Tribune.
The Sunshine Law requires public
records be maintained according to the
agency's retention schedule on file with
the Division of Library and Information
Services of the Department of State.
Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune

student info online for four years
information online to work remotely, University officials were unable to
but failed to secure it properly, said Joe locate the contact information for 570
Glover, the interim dean of the College of former students to inform them their
Liberal Arts and Sciences, according to information was compromised.
the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. The students' information was
"The risk is very low that someone removed from public view after discovery
went in there and used the information of the breach.
inappropriately," said UF spokesman Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune
Steve Orlando, according to the Herald-
Tribune. "But we don't know that it
didn't happen."


Terminated superintendent settles with district

NAPLES -A terminated Collier
County school district superintendent
settled his Open Meetings Law violation
lawsuit with the district for $555,000.
Ray Baker, a 34-year veteran, alleged
that school board members violated the
Open Meetings Law to meet and secretly
terminate his contract by voiding it.
The board declared Baker's contract
void a week after a report showed the

JACKSONVILLE Legal counsel for
the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office disclosed
that the office violated the Sunshine Law
for over 20 years by overcharging for
public records.
Counsel for the Sheriff's Office said
the office incorrectly gave preference to a
1981 city ordinance setting higher fees for
records over state law.
Florida law says the records custodian
may charge copying fees, normally up to
15 cents per one-sided copy and $1 for a
copy of a certified record.
The Sheriff's Office had been charging
$3 per report regardless of the number of
pages. The documents the office usually
provides are only one or two pages.
The overcharges surfaced when the

ORLANDO Florida's public
universities have responded inconsistently
in giving the public information about
student-athletes' deaths.
Since 2001, four state universities have
produced records on four student-athlete
deaths, ranging from three pages to 407
Officials at the University of Central
Florida, who released three pages of
records about the March 18 death of
wide receiver Ereck Plancher, said
documents about discussions with players
are exempt from Florida public-records
laws, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
UCF officials also say interviews with
university attorneys and the trainer's
report are exempt because they are
attorney work product or because the UCF
Athletics Association is a direct-support
UCF officials only released two

district failed to properly award credits to
students in Advanced Placement classes.
The voided contract meant Baker could
not use the contract's provisions to keep
his job, the board argued.
School Board Attorney Richard Withers
advocated settling because the school
board members chose a "weak" reason to
terminate Baker, according to the Naples
Daily News. Withers said, "[T]here is

office tried to increase copying fees to $6
per page.
"There are ways of doing things right
before our eyes, and we don't even realize
it's happening," said Joe Adams, editorial
writer at The Florida Times-Union and
author of The Florida Public Records
Handbook, about the overcharges.
After The Times-Union broke the story,
the Sheriff's Office dropped its copying
fees to conform to state law. Adams
praised the Sheriff's Office for its quick
Critics say the office should reimburse
prior requestors or donate the excess
money to charity.
Source: North Country Gazette and
The Florida Times-Union

campus-police incident reports and a list
of the time it took for police and rescue
services to arrive at the scene after they
were called.
In contrast to UCF's scant disclosures,
Florida State University released a
407-page report on the 2001 death of
linebacker Devaughn Darling. The report
included questionnaires from four assistant
coaches, 16 athletic trainers, and 21
players, and charts of the football players'
participation in the mat drills program,
including a list of student athletic trainers
attending the mat-drills session the day
Darling died.
The University of South Florida
released 14 pages of records about the
2007 death of running back Keeley
Dorsey, and the University of Florida
released 10 pages on the 2001 death of
fullback Eraste Autin.
Source: Orlando Sentinel


Records overcharge lasts 20 years

2 The Brechner Report July 2008

not a jury on the planet that would be
sympathetic to our position that you could
fire someone who worked for you for 34
years on a technicality," according to the
Withers estimated that had the case
gone to trial, the school district would have
faced $2.2 to $2.67 million in exposure,
according to the News.
Source: Naples Daily News

Court upholds

FOIA requests
U.S. Supreme Court unanimously
held agencies and courts must judge
each FOIA request on its merits even
when it seeks documents denied to a
previous requester.
The Court held in Taylor v.
Sturgell that the Federal Aviation
Administration could not deny a
request by the executive director
of the Antique Aircraft Association
for F-45 plane plans just because it
denied another AAA member the
plans earlier.


The U.S. District Court for the
District of Columbia previously held
that Brent Taylor could not appeal the
FAA's denial because his relationship
with the previous requester, Greg
Herrick, was "close enough" to deny
him standing. Herrick asked Taylor
to file the request and hired him to fix
his plane.
The Court said even if Herrick and
Taylor had common interests, it did
not mean Taylor agreed to be bound
by the ruling in Herrick's case.
Denying the request outright, held
the Court, would violate the "deep-
rooted historic tradition that everyone
should have his own day in court."
The Court remanded Taylor's case
to determine if he acted as Herrick's
agent, which could preclude his claim
based on federal common law.
Source: The Reporters Committee
for Freedom of the Press and Federal

Florida schools inconsistent with

public records in athlete deaths


Legislature passes five new exemptions in session
TALLAHASSEE The following five CS/SB 2610 Exemption/Organ database. (Dockery, R-Lakeland)
bills enacted during the 2008 legislative & Tissue Donor Registry: Creates Approved by Gov. Crist June 17.
session create new exemptions or expand exemption for donor-identifying
existing exemptions to the state Public information in the organ and tissue donor CS/SB 1616 Weapon & Firearm
Records and Open Meetings laws. The registry. Allows disclosure under certain Licenses/Interagency Data Sharin
bills become law unless vetoed by Gov. circumstances to organ, tissue, and eye Amends s. 790.065, F.S., authorizing
Charlie Crist. Copies of the legislation procurement agencies certified by the Department of Law Enforcement
are available at the Florida Legislature's Agency for Health Care Administration to provide data collected from
Web site (www.leg.state.fl.us). Chief or persons conducting research. (Oelrich, court records to the Department of
sponsors of the bills are in parentheses R-Gainesville) Approved by Gov. Crist Agriculture and Consumer Services
at the end of the summaries. SB=Senate June 23. to determine eligibility for conceale
Bill; HB=House Bill; CS = Committee weapon and firearm licenses for a
Substitute. HB 7033 Exemption/Complaint of legally-incapacitated person or a pe
Discrimination: Amends s. 119.0711(1), committed to a mental institution.
The following five bills create new F.S., expanding exemption for complaints (S. Committee on Criminal Justice)
exemptions or expand i. i i,, exemptions and other records about discrimination Approved by Gov. Crist May 28.
to the state Public Records and Open relating to race, color, religion, sex,
i /.,..' r,,, laws. The bills become law national origin, age, handicap, or CS/SB 2676 Citizens' Right-to-
unless vetoed by Gov. Charlie Crist. marital status in connection with hiring Act/Pretrial Release: Requires reg
preferences, position classifications, salary, of information about defendants rel
CS/SB 766 Exemption/Judicial and benefits, discipline, discharge, employee through pretrial release programs b(
Administrative Officials: Amends performance, evaluations, or other related created and made available to the p
s. 119.071, F.S., creating a public activities, to any governmental agency as and requires the programs to submit
record exemption for home addresses defined in ch. 119, F.S., until a finding is annual report to the Office of the St
and telephone numbers of general made on probable cause, the investigation Courts Administrator and the Clerk
magistrates, special magistrates, judges of about the complaint becomes inactive, or the Circuit Court. (Crist, R-Tampa)
compensation claims, administrative law the complaint or record is made part of Approved by Gov. Crist June 23.
judges of the Division of Administrative the official record of any hearing or court
Hearings, and child support enforcement proceeding. (H. Government Fi77T, ,,. l The following six exemptions wen
hearing officers, and the home addresses, & Accountability Council and Gardiner, reenacted during the 2008 session u
telephone numbers, places of employment, R-Orlando) Approved by Gov. Crist June the Open Government Sunset Revie
and/or schools and daycare facilities of the 10.
spouses and children of the officials, if the CS/SB 1042 OGSR/Putative Fat
official provides a written statement that The following four bills concerning Registry: Reenacts and amends s.
he has made reasonable efforts to protect Public Records and Open i f_.,. r,,,o laws 63.0541, F.S., providing an exempti
the information from being accessible by were enacted or amended during the 2008 for information contained in the Flo
the public. (Rich, D-Sunrise) Approved /,. ~, o, /r,. session. Putative Father Registry. Narrows
by Gov. Crist May 28. exemption to allow access by the bi
CS/HB 1203 Interstate Compact on mother to any registry entry in which
CS/HB 863 Exemption/Direct-Support Educational Opportunity for Military is identified upon receipt of notarize
Organization/DVA: Amends s. 292.055, Children: Directs the governor to request. (S. Children, Family, and
F.S., creating a public records exemption establish the Interstate Commission on Affairs Committee) Approved by G
for the identities of, and information Educational Opportunity for Military Crist June 17.
about, certain donors and prospective Children. The Commission is subject
donors to the direct-support organization to Florida's open government laws with SB 1046 OGSR/Foster Parents:
of the Department of Veterans' Affairs, some notable exceptions. (Proctor R-St. Reenacts and amends s. 409.175, F.
including those parts of direct-support I i,, >',,,.. Approved by Gov. Crist June narrowing exemption for information
organization meetings during which the 23. held by the Department of Children
donors' or potential donors' identities and Family Services regarding foster
are discussed. i',,go,,. R-Sarasota) CS/SB 1442 Exploited Children: parent applications, foster parents,
Approved by Gov. Crist May 28. Amends s. 92.56, F.S., permitting use of a persons providing character or neig
pseudonym, including in civil or criminal references. Removes exemption foi
CS/HB 1141 Exemption/Sexual proceedings, to refer to the victim of social security numbers. (S. Children
Violence Victim: Amends s. 741.313, the crime of production, possession, or Family, and Elder I /,., Committe
F.S., expanding exemption to include promotion of child pornography. Amends Approved by Gov. Crist June 17.
certain records and time sheets s. 847.002, requiring law enforcement
documenting leave due to acts of sexual officers in certain circumstances to CS/SB 1618 OGSR/Victims of
violence, submitted to an agency by an provide information to the National Center Child Abuse or Sex Crimes: Reer
employee who is the victim. (Jenne, for Missing and Exploited Children, and amends s. 119.071(2)(h), F.S.,
D-Davie) Presented to Gov. Crist June 18. prosecutors and the Attomev General's providing an exemption for informal






w Act.



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The Brechner Report July 2008

1 ~ <- 1~~DI~-~~~-~-




including still and video images,
regarding victims of child abuse or
sexual offense, and expanding exemption
to include sexual offenses prohibited
under provisions for prostitution and
obscenity, ch. 796 and 847, F.S. Creates
exception for law enforcement and
other government agencies and for the
media if a law enforcement agency
believes disclosure would help locate a
missing or endangered person. Amends
s. 92.56, F.S., requiring exempt status
to be maintained in court records and
proceedings under certain circumstances.
Amends 119.0714, F.S., creating
exemption for confidential and exempt
criminal intelligence information or
investigative information part of a court
file. Amends 794.03, F.S., allowing
publication of information about sexual
offense victim if a court determines the
information is no longer confidential
and exempt. (S. Committee on Criminal
Justice) Presented to Gov. Crist June 19.

CS/SB 1630 OGSR/Department of
Agriculture & Consumer Services:
Reenacts and amends s. 500.148, F.S.,
providing exemption for confidential
information provided to the Department
of Agriculture and Consumer Services
during investigation on food safety or
food-borne illness, as a requirement
for federal-state contract or partnership
activity, or for regulatory review. (S.
Committee on Agriculture) Approved by
Gov. Crist June 23.

HB 7053 OGSR/Florida Kidcare
Program: Reenacts and amends s.


409.821, F.S., reorganizing exemption
and authorizing release of Florida
Kidcare program applicant or enrollee
information to any governmental entity in
the performance of its official duties and
to the legal guardian of an enrollee. (H.
Government Ei;,,. /i,. & Accountability
Council and Gardiner, R-Orlando)
Approved by Gov. Crist June 10.

The following bills were introduced
during the 2008 session but were not

SB 102 Exemption/Juvenile Blood Test
SB 122, HB 7117 Criminal Use of
Personal ID Information
HB 181, CS/SB 392 Government
Agency Spending Disclosure
SB 250 Expunction of Criminal
HB 327, SB 2770 Exemption/Security
SB 356 Exemption/Donor Identities -
Public Buildings
HB 373 Sealing Criminal History
SB 418 Exemption/Alternative Energy
SB 468 Fingerprinting Childcare
SB 506 Juvenile Arrest Records
CS/HB 637, CS/SB 1998 Electronic
Health Records
HB 759 Exemption/Personal
Identifying Information
SB 806 Exemption/Investigations -
Seaport Security
SB 822, CS/HB 1061 -Ad Valorem Tax


SB 870 Domestic Violence Injunctions
HB 947, SB 1244 Political
CS/HB 965, SB 1660 Exemption/Home
Addresses EMTs
CS/HB 991, SB 2276 Vox Populi/
Public Participation at Public Meetings
SB 1044 Child Abuse Reports
HB 1051, SB 2380 Exemption/
Investigative Records State Fire
HB 1389 Expunging Criminal History
SB 1390 Exemption/Pharmaceutical
HB 1403 Exemption/Assisted Living
Facility Residents
HB 1407 Concealed Weapon Permits
CS/HB 1467, CS/SB 2762 Confidential
Records DCFS
CS/HB 1487 Exemption/Identity of
Organ Donors
SB 1510 Exemption/Pending
HB 1537, SB 2240 Voting Rights
SB 2008 Improving Access to Public
SB 2038 Exemption/Investigative
Reports DFS
SB 2254 Criminal History Records/
Expunction and Sealing
SB 2450 Financial Disclosures/Elected
SB 2824 Exemption/Florida
Combustion Center
HB 7089 Exemption/Juvenile Criminal
History Records
HB 7149 Information Technology/
Public Records

Wrestler's son sues, claiming release of prison

calls and video threatened civil lawsuit defense

CLEARWATER The incarcerated
son of former professional wrestler Hulk
Hogan sued the Pinellas County Sheriff's
Office for releasing more than 20 hours
of recordings of his private telephone
conversations and video footage of his
family visiting him in jail.
Nick Bollea alleged the releases
caused him "extreme emotional distress,"
according to The Tampa Tribune.
Sheriff Jim Coats released the records
after the media requested them.
The lawsuit requests that Coats stop
allowing television crews to videotape
Bollea and his family as they talk on a

4 The Brechner Report U July 2008

video monitor in the jail's visitor's center
and stop releasing telephone conversations
and surveillance video of the family
entering the center.
Bollea's telephone conversations
complain about his cramped cell and his
belief that his attorney thought Bollea
would be placed in a minimum-security
setting, according to The Tribune.
He was sentenced as an adult to eight
months in prison for felony reckless
driving after a crash left his friend, John
Graziano, in critical condition.
Bollea's attorneys say the release of
this information hurts his ability to defend

himself in a civil lawsuit brought by
Graziano's guardian.
Bollea's attorneys argue that the
release should be prohibited because
he is still a minor. The Sheriff's Office
says that laws regarding the release of
minors' information do not apply to Bollea
because he was sentenced as an adult,
according to The Tribune.
The Sheriff's Office has stopped
releasing recordings to the media
temporarily because the matter is now
in litigation, said sheriff's spokesperson
Cecilia Barreda, according to The Tribune.
Source: The Tampa Tribune


Jury finds material obscene

TAMPA Twelve federal jurors found
that graphic and violent pornographic
films violated community obscenity
The jurors watched 8 1/2 hours of
"extreme pornography," involving
an adult film producer billed as
"Max Hardcore," according to the St.
Petersburg Times.
After two weeks of trial and nearly 12
hours of deliberation, the jury convicted
the producer, whose real name is Paul
F. Little, of Altadena, Calif., and his
company, MaxWorld Entertainment Inc.,
of 10 counts of selling obscene material
via the internet and 10 counts of shipping
it to Tampa through the U.S. mail. Little
was also ordered to turn over three adult
websites selling MaxWorld films.
Little's videos were distributed by

Court grants inn

newsletter critical
MADISON, Wis. -A federal judge
ruled that prison inmates have a First
Amendment right to read material that is
critical of prison policies and the parole
U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb
held that prisoners could read The New
Abolitionist, a newsletter critical of
Wisconsin prisons and distributed to
1,100 inmates.
The Wisconsin Department of
Corrections blocked delivery of the
newsletter because of concerns it would
make inmates distrust security guards and

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
Kearston Wesner, Editor
Alana Kolifrath, Production Coordinator
Danielle Navarrete, Production Assistant
The BrechnerReport is published 12 times a
year under the auspices of the University of Florida
Foundation The Brechner Report is a joint 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 Society
of Newspaper Editors and the Joseph L Brechner

Jaded Video, a California distributor, over
the web. Little argued that he had no
knowledge or control over that process,
according to the Times. U.S. District
Judge Susan C. Bucklew instructed
jurors that someone can be guilty if,
in the ordinary course of business, he
performs an act for which using the mail
is reasonably foreseeable, according to the
Little faces a maximum of five years
in prison for each conviction when he
is sentenced on September 5. Little and
MaxWorld each face fines of $250,000.
Commenting on the decision,
MaxWorld attorney Louis Sirkin
remarked, "We believe in freedom of
speech, and this is a setback," according
to the Times.
Source: St. Petersburg Times

plates access to

l of prisons
lose hope.
Inmate Lorenzo Johnson filed a lawsuit
claiming that the blockage violated his
First Amendment rights.
Crabb agreed that the department had
no legitimate reason to stop delivery.
About the newsletter's advocating
nonviolent action to effect change in
the system, she said the department
"may prefer that such activities not take
place, but [it has] no legitimate basis
for preventing them," according to The
Associated Press.
Source: The Associated Press



Surveillance impact uncertain

government has stepped up its wiretapping
activities and increased its viewing of
citizens' financial and other personal
records since September 2001, the number
of terrorism prosecutions ending up in
court has declined.
Civil liberties groups and legal scholars
worry that this trend may show the
government has compromised citizens'
privacy without much to show for it,
according to the Los Angeles Times.
A recent survey showed the Justice
Department initiated 50 percent fewer
national security cases in 2007 than
2002, according to reports in the Times.

The number of cases decreased over 19
percent last year alone.
Yet the number of warrant requests
approved by the Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Court doubled from 2001 to
2007, and the Justice Department issued
nine percent more warrants in 2007 than
2006, according to reports in the Times.
A former Bush White House national
security adviser said the investigations
are still useful. "It suggests that these
investigations may be leading to other
forms of prevention and protection,"
said Thomas Newcomb, according to the
Source: Los Angeles Times

The Brechner Report U July 2008 3

Yoko Ono

challenge fails
NEW YORK A federal court
refused to grant Yoko Ono's request for
a preliminary injunction to prevent John
Lennon's song "Imagine" from being
used in an anti-evolution film.
Ono sued the makers of "Expelled:
No Intelligence Allowed" for using 15
seconds of the song without permission.


U.S. District Judge Sidney Stein
said if the case went to trial, the
filmmakers would likely win based on
the fair-use doctrine. Stein said using
"a copyrighted work for the purposes
of criticism and commentary is not an
infringement of copyright."
The filmmakers' lawyer, Anthony T.
Falzone, said the case raised free-speech
issues and Ono was "literally asking the
judge to censor the film," according to
The Associated Press.
"The decision weakens the rights
of all copyright owners," according to
a statement by Ono's attorney, Peter
Shukat, to the Deseret News.
"Expelled" defends intelligent
design, the theory that the universe
is too complex to be explained by
evolution, said The Press.
Ono plans to appeal.
Source: The Associated Press and
Desert News

BRECHNER Non-Profit Organization
University of Florida Gainesville, FL
Brechner Center for Freedom of Information
3208 Welmer Hall, P.O. Box 118400
Gainesville, FL 32611
July 2008


Legislature enacts fewest exemptions in decade
"A popular government, without popular information, of Children and Families to provide every child under
or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce the supervision or custody of DCF a complete and
or a tragedy; or, perhaps, both." James Madison accurate copy of his or her entire case file at no cost.
If you tuned in to the 2008 legislative session, you The legislation would have also allowed DCF to
likely noticed discussion centered largely on budget cuts, release investigative records if the department secretary
the economy, energy, autism, and abortion. You also may determined that disclosure of such records was in the
have heard a little bit of dialogue on open government. public interest. The legislation did not pass.
Our constitutional right of access to government The Bad: HB 759 This bill would have created a
records and meetings is frequently assaulted during the Adria Harper public-records exemption for all personal identifying
legislative session and, as always, the First Amendment information in any public record held by any agency.
Foundation was ready. Each session, the Foundation monitors The proposed exemption defined personal identification
hundreds of proposed bills that affect open government. Most information very broadly such as an individual's name, home
of the bills we track create exceptions to the public records and address, e-mail address, and telephone number. HB 759 is an
government meetings laws which can prevent the public from example of legislation we see frequently where the intent may
accessing information about critical public issues such as budget seem innocuous, but the constitutional and practical implications
The cuts, taxation, the economy, would have been immense. The bill had no Senate companion
B ck Pe and energy. Our database lists and was never heard by any committee of reference.
B ack P age over 1000 exemptions that SB 1510 This would have expanded the public-meetings
By Adria Harper have already passed into law. exemption to allow government officers to meet behind closed
Many of these exemptions doors with an attorney to discuss not only pending litigation but
are unjustified, only serving to promote government's ability to also potential litigation a huge expansion from the exemption
operate in the dark or protect private interests. On one level, this currently provided by s. 286.011, F.S. The legislation died.
year was no different nearly 100 proposed bills would affect The Result: By the close of the 2008 Session, three new
open government, mostly by creating new exemptions. This year public record exemptions had been enacted, all relatively minor.
was remarkable, though, in that most of the proposed exemption This is the smallest number of new exemptions created since
bills stalled, and only a small handful passed. A rundown of the 1995 when the Foundation started tracking numbers. Also of
highlights: interest, an exemption for insurance company rate methodology
Approximately 89 bills were filed during the 2008 Session, information subject to sunset review wasn't reenacted, which
covering a wide range of open-government issues, including at means the exemption will "sunset" on October 2.
least 32 proposed exemptions limiting the public's right of access So we close on a positive note this year, thanks in large
to government records or meetings. measure to the efforts and leadership of open-government
The following legislation did not pass, but could be advocates House Minority Leader Representative Dan Gelber
considered next session. and Representative Jack Seiler, as well as the continuing
The Good: HB 991, SB 2276 These bills would have efforts of Gov. Charlie Crist, who has tirelessly promoted
guaranteed citizen participation in public meetings, including the importance of open government through such Sunshine
items not on the agenda a huge step in the right direction, initiatives as the Office of Open Government and the
However, local government representatives raised concerns and Commission on Open Government Reform. Is it a sea of change?
the legislation did not pass. Hopefully. But don't rest easy there's always next year.
HB 181, SB 392 These required the Department of Adria Harper is director of the FirstAmendment Foundation in
State to create and manage a website disclosing government Tallahassee, Fla. A list of all open government bills, and a synopsis of
expenditures. However, they also failed to pass. each bill considered during the 2008 legislative session, is available on
HB 1467, SB 2762 The legislation required the Department the First Amendment Foundation 's Web site, www.floridafaf org.

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