public meetings

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Florida lawmakers are considering letting local officials meet one on one, outside of the public eye. But a first amendment advocate says the change could encourage corruption.

Floridians will be guaranteed the right to speak at public meetings, if Gov. Rick Scott signs a bill that’s headed his way. The public comment bill passed the House on Wednesday after unanimously passing the senate.

One open government watchdog group is celebrating the Legislature’s passing what it calls the “Anti-Shushing Bill.”

Barbara Peterson, president of the Florida First Amendment Foundation, said, “It’s not a huge bill. It’s a huge right.”

Right now local governments are required to let their citizenry know  when they’re going to hold a public meeting, but Florida law doesn’t require the agencies to let members of the public speak during those meetings. Regan McCarthy reports lawmakers are looking into a bill that gives Floridians a right to be heard.

Many people think the right to have their voices heard at a public meeting is a given, but Representative Martin Kiar says at some of Florida’s local government meetings, that’s not the case.

A Senate sub-committee Wednesday voted unanimously to support a bill giving citizens the right to speak at public meetings.  James Call reports, lawmakers are acting after an appellate court invited them to clear up any confusion about the public’s right to speak when at commission, council and other governmental meetings.