Watching out for your right to Florida Sunshine

Florida currently has 1,159 exemptions to its open government laws.  Every exemption makes government less transparent.  Historic City News is tracking 114 Bills during the 2020 legislative session that will either create new open government exemptions or extend current exemptions.

Through the Florida First Amendment Foundation, we are being updated weekly over the next 60-days as these Bills make their way through committees, the House of Representatives, the Senate, and finally to the desk of Governor Ron DeSantis for his signature.

As the first week draws to a close, former Foundation president Barbara Petersen provides the following updates on a few selected legislative Bills.


HB 1313 Exemption/Identifying Information – Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment:  Expands the public record exemption for petitions for voluntary and involuntary petitions and court orders for mental health and substance abuse treatment to include the name of the respondent and applications for voluntary and involuntary admission for mental health examinations or treatment.  Amends ss. 394.464 and 397.6760, F.S.  Companion to SB 1620.  Rep. Sharon Pritchett (D-Miami Gardens)

SB 1620 Exemption/Identifying Information – Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment:  Companion to HB 1313.  Sen. Lauren Book (D-Plantation)


SB 7032 OGSR/Body Camera Videos:  Reenacts with minor modification the public record exemption for body camera recordings taken (1) within the interior of a private residence; (2) at a health care, mental health care, or social services facility; and (3) in a place where a person recorded or depicted in the recording has a reasonable expectation of privacy.  Allows disclosure of the recording in furtherance of the law enforcement agency’s official duties and responsibilities; to other governmental entities in furtherance of official duties and responsibilities; and pursuant to a court order under certain specified conditions.  Reenacts s. 119.071(2)(l), F.S.  Companion to HB 7015.  S. Criminal Justice Committee


HB 887 OGSR/Florida ABLE Program: Reenacts without modification and extends the sunset review period until 2025 the exemption for personal financial and health information of participants in the program held by the Florida Prepaid College Board, Florida ABLE Inc., or the Florida ABLE program, a DSO created to assist the disabled in saving money for college without losing their eligibility for state and federal benefits.  Also extends the repeal date for the DSO until 2025.  Reenacts s. 1009.058, F.S., and amends s. 20.058, F.S.  Rep. Ray Rodrigues (R-Fort Myers) • H. Higher Education and Career Readiness Subcommittee:  Reported favorably by unanimous vote.  Now in H. Education Committee.  


HB 7023 OGSR/Child Abuse Death Review Committee:  Identifying Information – Deceased Children:  Reenacts, without modification, the exemption for information identifying the surviving siblings of a child whose death occurred as a result of a verified report of abuse or neglect held by the State Child Abuse Death Review Committee.  Also exempts information held by the Committee that reveals the identity of a deceased child whose death was reported to the central abuse hotline but determined not to be the result of abuse or neglect.  Portions of meetings during which the Committee discusses exempt information are exempt, as are all records associated with the meeting.  Reenacts s. 383.412, F.S.  Companion to SB 7002.  H. Oversight, Transparency and Public Management Subcommittee


HB 7003 OGSR/Office of Financial Regulation – Payment Transaction Records: Reenacts without modification the public record exemption for payment transaction information identifying a licensee, payor, payee, or conductor contained in a database held by the Office of Financial Regulation (OFR), allowing OFR to release payment instrument transaction data in the aggregate.  “Payment instrument” is statutorily defined as “a check, draft, warrant, money order, travelers check, electronic instrument, or other instrument, payment of money, or monetary value whether or not negotiable.”  Reenacts s. 560.312, F.S.  Companion to SB 7014.  H. Oversight, Transparency and Public Management Subcommittee • H. State Affairs Committee:  Reported favorably by unanimous vote.  Now on the House Calendar.


Bills to Watch:  There is an unusually large number of home address exemptions filed this year – almost 20% of all bills filed to date.  In our view, few of these exemptions are justified and we’ve seen little, if any, evidence of the need to protect home addresses and absolutely no evidence that those wishing to harm government employees or officers are making public record requests.  Last year, the Legislature passed a law defining “home address” to include not only the physical address but also all property descriptors, including parcel identification numbers, GPS coordinates, etc.  There are roughly three dozen home address exemptions in law and we’ve made the decision that enough is enough – unless there is evidence that a certain class of government employees is being threatened or harmed because of the work they do on our behalf, we are going to oppose all home address exemptions.  Finally, it’s important to note that nearly all the information made exempt by the home address exemptions is readily available from other publicly available sources.


SB 1670 Consumer Data Privacy:  Stipulates that public records containing personal identifying information can’t be used for marketing or solicitation purposes without the affirmative written consent of the subject of the record.  Allows a consumer to prohibit a website operator from selling the consumer’s personal information collected by the website operator.  Amends s. 119.01, F.S., and creates s. 501.062, F.S.  Companion to HB 963.  Sen. Doug Broxson (R-Pensacola)


SB 7030 Exemption/Active Threat Assessment and Threat Management Records:  Creates a public record exemption for active threat assessment and threat management records.  “Threat assessment” is defined as the process of collecting and sharing active criminal intelligence or investigative information in a multidisciplinary effort to understand a targeted threat of violence; “threat management” is defined as the process of developing, implementing, and monitoring an individualized plan to intervene, mitigate, or prevent a targeted threat of violence. Stipulates that active criminal intelligence and investigative information shared with another agency in furtherance of its responsibilities pursuant to a multidisciplinary information-sharing agreement retains its exempt status.  Amends s. 119.071(2), F.S.  S. Infrastructure and Security Committee


HB 1393 Exemption/OFR – Financial Technology Sandbox Act:  HB 1391 creates the Financial Technology Sandbox Act within the Office of Financial Regulation (OFR) to allow financial technology innovators to test new products and services in a supervised, flexible regulatory sandbox, using waivers of specified general law and rule requirements under defined conditions.  HB 1393 creates a public record exemption for proprietary business information relating to the innovative financial technology products and services contained in a Financial Technology Sandbox application made available to the OFR.  Also exempts the general law or rule requirements for which a waiver is sought, and the reasons why these requirements prohibit the innovative financial product or service from being made available to consumers, as well as the comprehensive records applicants are required to maintain under the Act.  Amends s. 559.952, F.S.  Companion to SB 1872.  Rep. J.W. Grant (R-Tampa)

SB 1872 Exemption/OFR – Financial Technology Sandbox Act:  Companion to HB 1393.  Sen. Travis Hutson (R-Palm Coast)

If you’d like additional information visit the Foundation website.