Journalist’s toolkit: Stop agencies from blocking public records requests

Saying that there is a growing trend of agencies to use the courts to avoid fulfilling public records requests, Republican Rep. Ray Rodrigues said he supports a Florida House committee bill, approved Wednesday, that is aimed at preventing government agencies from taking such evasive action.

He said what government agencies should be doing is providing the requested records or citing the exemption under law that allows them to keep the records from the public.

“Going to court to try to block the public’s constitutionally protected access to government records is wrong,” Rodrigues told reporters this morning.

Under current state law, if the requestor doesn’t agree that the exemption applies to the records sought, the requestor can sue the agency.  If the requestor wins, the agency must reimburse the requestor’s legal costs. Historic City News and other news sources are hamstrung every time our constitutional right to access is abbridged.

The House Oversight, Transparency and Public Management Subcommittee voted 7-4 in favor of the bill.

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