FL House Rolls Out Transparency Legislation For Local Agencies

Oct 26, 2017

Credit DXR via wikimedia commons

The Florida House wants to shed more light on local tourism and economic development agencies.  The demands echo transparency requirements approved for state agencies earlier this year.

A cavalcade of state representatives took turns Thursday laying out the measures that make up the backbone of House Speaker Richard Corcoran’s priorities for next year’s session. 

Rep. Michael Grant (R-Port Charlotte) is backing a measure imposing new oversight on local development agencies.

“At the local level,” Grant explains, “anything over $250,000 has to be approved by the board of county commissioners.  Any contract over $5,000 has to be published on the local website.”

House lawmakers want to rein in the use of trade secret protections to hide contracts between the government and private entities.  Lehigh Acres Republican Representative Matt Caldwell says the measures should only be used to protect traditionally understood secrets.

Rep. Matt Caldwell (R-Lehigh Acres).
Credit Mark Foley via FL House website

“The formula for Coca Cola,” Caldwell offers, “the recipe for KFC chicken.”

“And the bill then goes on to state and in case you’re confused, essentially, it does not include contractual agreements between public entities and the private sector,” Caldwell says.

Late last year rapper Pittbull gave in to House pressure and revealed the details of his promotional contract with the state tourism agency Visit Florida.  Agency officials had refused to reveal the one million dollar agreement, claiming it was a trade secret.

Corcoran and the House made a similar push with state agencies last year—threatening to outright eliminate Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida, before settling on leaner budgets and a series of new disclosure requirements. 

The spat started when Visit Florida claimed its contract with Pitbull was a trade secret.  The rapper eventually caved to House pressure and revealed details of the $1 million agreement.