Sunshine Scorecard: Paul Renner

When it comes to supporting open government, Historic City News readers want to know how our St Johns County Legislative Delegation measures up.

Florida legislators are often tracked, and sometimes graded, on how they vote on bills being tracked by groups, from marijuana advocates to the Florida Sheriff’s Association.  Now, Barbara Petersen, president of Florida’s First Amendment Foundation, has drafted a scoring system being used to evaluate each legislator’s support for government openness.

“It is based, not on what their campaign literature says, but on the votes they cast on the House or Senate floor,” Petersen said.

In a joint project with the Florida Society of News Editors, the scoring system assigns points for about 10 critical government openness bills each legislative session. Votes for openness gain points while votes against openness lose points.

Legislators will get three points for a floor vote, seven points for co-sponsoring a bill, and 10 points for sponsoring a bill that’s on the list.  Legislators can also get a bonus point for communicating with the foundation about the bill. The scores ultimately will be compared to the session’s most extreme legislator — good or bad — and turned into standard letter grades for comparison.

A perfectly neutral legislator will get a C.

“By doing this project and paying attention to what our legislators are doing, I hope that we educate the public and educate the legislators on the importance of these issues and bring attention and more consideration to all of these exceptions to the constitution,” Petersen said.