First Amendment Foundation: Action needed on Sunshine bill

STARTING THE 2012 SESSION ON THE RIGHT NOTE!

As usual, we have dozens of open government bills on our tracking list for the 2012 session – and another half dozen added just this morning – but what is not so usual is that one of our good government bills is scheduled for a hearing the very first week of session!

The Public’s Right to Speak

That’s right – SB 206 by Senator Joe Negron is scheduled for consideration by the Rules Subcommittee on Ethics and Elections on Wednesday, January 11 at 10:15 am in 412 Knott.

A bit of background:  Over the past couple of years, we’ve had two courts – the 1st DCA (Keesler) and the 5th DCA (Kennedy) – hold that our famed Sunshine Law doesn’t specifically grant the public an opportunity to speak at open meetings, and therefore government agencies can deny citizens the right to speak to their elected representatives public meetings.

SB 206 rights this grievous wrong and amends s. 286.011, F.S., the Sunshine Law, to specifically state that the public must be given a reasonable opportunity to be heard!  The right to speak is subject to reasonable rules or policies and there are a couple of minor exceptions, but all in all, this is a great bill and it is high time the Legislature took action.  (Senator Negron filed similar legislation last year – SB 310 – which shamefully died without a hearing in one single committee. Same was true of the House companion.)

Please show your support to Senator Negron and Representative Kiar, sponsor of the House companion, HB 355.

Senator Joe Negron:  (850) 487-5088 or email negron.joe.web@flsenate.gov

Representative Martin Kiar:  (850) 487-1588 or email martin.kiar@myfloridahouse.gov
Barbara A. Petersen, President
First Amendment Foundation
Tallahassee, FL  32301
(800) 337-3518

The First Amendment Foundation is a member-supported nonprofit organization. Please help the First Amendment Foundation by making a donation today. To donate or become a member, go to floridafaf.org.

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