Sunshine Laws

Your right to know

How to exercise your right to know

1. If are being denied access to a government meeting: You should say that Section 286.011, Florida Statutes, Florida’s Government-in-the-Sunshine Law, requires all meetings of state or local government boards or commissions be open to the public unless there is a specific statutory exemption. If you are asked to leave a meeting, or are forbidden from entering, politely but firmly request the statutory authority for such action. Otherwise, you should insist on your right to attend the meeting.

2. If you are refused access to public records: You should cite Chapter 119, Florida Statutes:

"It is the policy of this state that all state, county and municipal records shall be open for a personal inspection by any person." Public records are defined as "all documents, papers, letters, maps, books, tapes, photographs, films, sound recordings, data processing software, regardless of the physical form, characteristics or means of transmission, made or received … in connection with the transaction of official business by any agency." Chapter 119 applies to "any state, county, district, authority, or municipal officer, department, division, board, bureau, commission, or other separate unit of government…"

3. If you want to make a written request for a public record:

SAMPLE

Public Records Request

Please note that a public records request does not have to be made in writing. However, should you want to make a written request, the following letter can be used a model. Simply fill in the appropriate date, address, and salutation, and describe the records you are requesting.

Pursuant to Article I, section 24, of the Florida Constitution, and select the corresponding legal citation: state agency or local government – chapter 119, F.S.; legislative records – s. 11.0431, F.S.; or judicial records – Rule 2.051, Fla. Rules of Judicial Administration, I am requesting select: INSPECTION and/or COPIES of the following public records: describe the records you are requesting. Should you deny my request, or any part of the request, please state in writing the basis for the denial, including the exact statutory citation authorizing the denial, as required by s. 119.07(1)(d), F.S. [The phrase, “as required by s. 119.07(1)(d), F.S.” should be deleted from requests for legislative or judicial records.]

I will contact your office within select a specific period of time: 24 hours; 48 hours; one week; etc. to discuss when I may expect fulfillment of my request, and payment of any statutorily prescribed fees. If you have any questions in the interim, you may contact me at fill in a telephone number where you can be reached. Thank you.

Sincerely,