public records exemption

First Amendment Foundation President Barbara Petersen addresses  gathering of Florida Associated Press broadcasters in Orlando.
Florida Associated Press Broadcasters

The First Amendment Foundation (FAF) in Tallahassee keeps watch over policy discussions that could impede the public’s right to know about government business.

“We track all bills that affect the public’s ability to oversee government and hold it accountable," says FAF president Barbara Petersen.

The foundation tracked 111 bills this year that would create new open government exemptions or extend current exemptions. 25 of them passed.

florida mass violence public records
Terry Renna / AP

A bill exempting recordings of mass shootings from public record cleared the Senate Wednesday. The House version is headed to that chamber’s floor.

Florida's League of Cities lobbies to protect local authority.
Steven Adams via Flickr

Florida’s League of Cities has a full slate of pet projects for the coming session.  The issues center on defending local governing authority, but the League is also backing a controversial public records exemption.

The public records exemption is a constant in every legislative session. Ever since a majority of Floridians amended the state constitution to ensure broad access to governmental records and meetings, restrictions to public meetings and records increase every legislative session.

A trio of bills having to do with alternative energy sources passed through a House subcommittee on Tuesday. The most debate surrounded a proposed public-records exemption for high-tech companies trying to win business from public utility companies.

Companies trying to win business from public utility companies could have their information shielded from the public, if a bill passes the Florida Legislature. Major city utility companies, like the ones in Jacksonville and Orlando, want to keep the tech companies’ information secret during the bidding process.