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.


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.


Editorial: Don’t mess with our Sunshine laws

Every Floridian who cares about transparency in public affairs and about keeping government accountable to the taxpayers should be worried about the latest effort in Tallahassee to stifle the state’s public records law.

It’s a head-on frontal attack on the law, although it’s disguised as a mere word change in the existing Sunshine statute. The relevant wording states that a judge “shall” award attorneys fees when citizens win a lawsuit over a public records request that was wrongly denied. 


EDITORIAL: Cyber defense bill in Florida must balance security, transparency

From Social Security numbers to financial information and health records, some of the most sensitive parts of our personal lives are stored on state web servers.

A security breach that exposes this information can leave us vulnerable to identity theft. It also could lead to the modification or destruction of personal data that lets us get a driver's license or business permit, for example.


EDITORIAL: Pitbull’s secret Florida contract a slap to the public

Mr. Worldwide is living up to his name by bringing some global attention to Florida's latest snub of the public's right to know.

The International Business Times noted in a story last week that the state's tourism agency, Visit Florida, is refusing to say how much it's paying rap artist Pitbull to promote the state as its new "ambassador."

Welcome to Florida, the land of sunshine, sand and secrecy. Continue…


Florida courts give lobbyists a pass on ‘Sunshine’ laws

Three weeks ago, a misdemeanor case ended without much fanfare in Orange County, Florida. And yet, for lobbyists throughout the state, it was reason to uncork the champagne.

The case was against lobbyist Chris Dorworth, the former legislator at the center of the expressway-authority scandal that led to multiple indictments, one prison sentence and, ultimately, the disintegration of the entire agency. Continue…