Florida clamps down on COVID-19 records, taking a ‘so sue me’ attitude, transparency advocates say

Records requesters seeking information about COVID-19 in Florida face long delays and large fees. “But perhaps more worrisome, we’re often hearing that some agencies will stonewall, fail to respond, and provide nothing, for months,” said Pam Marsh, president of the First Amendment Foundation of Florida. “It’s basically a ‘so sue me’ kind of attitude, daring…

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Critics of Florida tourism agencies pleased with new accountability, transparency measures

A public-private agency that promotes Florida’s tourism industry won full funding from the state legislature despite criticism that the state support amounts to corporate welfare.

But the $76 million approved for Visit Florida during a special session of the legislature last week came with stiffer reporting requirements aimed at making the agency’s activities more transparent.

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A First Amendment fight in Florida

The First Amendment Foundation and others have met with lawmakers here to discuss revisions to a Senate bill that would let a judge decide whether to award attorney fees against an agency involved in a lawsuit regarding an open-records law violation.

But while several free-speech groups told the Senate Judiciary Committee this week that they view some recent changes to SB 1220 as progress, they are still not convinced that the bill does not impede on Floridians’ constitutional right to public information.

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Advocates decry Florida bill ending automatic fees for public records violations

Local government leaders in Florida are battling with open-government advocates over legislation that would leave it up to a judge to award attorney’s fees in public-records cases.

The bill (SB 1220) passed through a Senate panel Tuesday by a unanimous 3-0 vote, and the House version of the bill (HB 1021) won a committee’s approval on Monday.

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First Amendment Foundation announces new Hanna and Douglas Weiss Open Government Legal Fellowship

Supported by a donation from Kenneth L. Weiss, Esq., the Hanna and Douglas Weiss Open Government Legal Fellowship is a one-semester fellowship for a law student interested in learning about Florida's open government laws and the legislative process.

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Florida FAF’S Online Open Government Training now available

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Florida’s First Amendment Foundation Announces Winner of the 2014 Pete Weitzel/Friend of the First Amendment Award

The First Amendment Foundation is pleased to announce it will award George Gabel of Holland & Knight its 2014 Pete Weitzel/Friend of the First Amendment Award.

“George Gabel is always there to stand up in court on behalf of the Sunshine laws and the First Amendment. George has been our legal champion for many years, as we worked to pry open public meetings, liberate public records and ensure the court system is open to the public,” said The Florida Times-Union Editor Frank Denton in his nomination letter.

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