Sunshine Week 2017

FSNE and the First Amendment Foundation (FAF) have teamed up to bring Sunshine Week, the annual celebration of open government around the United States, to the attention of Floridians.

Florida has some of the longest standing and most respected Sunshine laws in the country. Florida legislators, however, are lining up bills to erode our public records and Government in the Sunshine laws. More than 1,100 legislative exemptions are on the books.

FSNE’s 2017 public records project is to create a “scorecard” that will track and grade lawmakers based on their support/opposition and floor votes on the FAF’s priority list of proposed exemptions.

Two stories have advanced that project:

  • Eliot Kleinberg of The Post wrote the main advance, explaining the years of exemption battles and debate that led to creation of the scorecard as a way to measure accountability.
  • Mike Stucka of The Post wrote a story explaining the scoring methodology.
  • Both stories were sent to the AP for immediate digital publication and for March 5 print publication.

Results of the scorecard will be posted at the end of the legislative session. This project was chosen with the hopes of starting an annual scorecard that will help readers hold their representatives accountable for the erosion of Florida public records laws. Nick Moschella’s FSNE Public Records Committee is spearheading the project.

The FAF also will host some the following events to underscore the importance of open government:

More FAF events, including more Fake News v. Real News Panels in cities across Florida, are to come. Join the FAF mailing list and be the first to know about upcoming events.

Throughout 2017, FAF will:

  • Fight legislation that seeks to limit or curtail our ability to oversee our government.
  • Answer over 1,000 Hotline calls from those denied access to records and meetings. FAF helps resolve unlawful denials on a daily basis.
  • Conduct Sunshine seminars & training sessions, both in person and via our online training program, the Sunshine Certificate to teach citizens their rights and public employees their responsibilities.
  • Continue to serve as the beacon for open government in Florida.

Sunshine Week, the annual celebration of open government around the United States, was started over a decade ago when the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors (FSNE) launched Sunshine Sunday in 2002 in response to efforts by some Florida legislators to create scores of new exemptions to the state’s public records law. The following year, the idea of a national Sunshine Sunday was raised at an American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) Freedom of Information summit. It was quickly decided that transparency and accountability deserved more than a single Sunday, and Sunshine Week was born. The first nationwide Sunshine Week took place the week of March 13, 2005.