Florida Guv Signs Mindless Exemption Into Law…

From the Reporters Committee:

Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill Thursday that exempts any photographs, video or audio recordings that depict or record the “killing of a person” from the mandatory disclosure requirements under the state’s public records laws.

The bill, which Florida media organizations have fought against, would allow access to such recordings by certain immediate family members, local government entities, and state and federal agencies. Members of the public could get access to these recordings only upon a showing that “good cause,” as defined in the exemption, exists for disclosure.

It takes about 15 seconds to think of a reason why this is a terrible exemption. Think, for example, of a 14-year-old boy dying under a cloud of controversy at a Florida juvenile boot camp. Think the news media might be able to shed some light on a situation like that? Well, they did…and now they won’t.

Pennsylvania Moves to Toughen Its Open Meetings Law

Sunshine of my life is you...

A bill to toughen Pennsylvania’s primary open meetings law for governments is on its way to the House after Senate passage.

The state Senate voted 48-to-2 on Tuesday to increase penalties for first-time intentional violations of the Sunshine Law to a fine of up to $1,000.

Second-time offenders could be hit with a $2,000 fine, and taxpayers can’t be made to pay the fines.

This is the third time the state Senate’s passed such a bill. The other two died of inaction in the House at the end of session.

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Rhode Island’s FOI legislative package: so far, looking good….

Some Rhode Island public employees “try to shield their contracts” from the public by relying on language in the state Access to Public Records Act, the sponsor of a bill to require that such contracts be public told the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday.

Bill sponsor Rep. Roberto DaSilva, D-East Providence, testified Tuesday that the bill “makes the open-records law a little bit better, cleans it up.”

Committee members appeared supportive, but indicated the legislation would need added language to redact or remove things that would help prevent crimes such as identity theft.

The state Department of Administration supports the bill but echoed concerns of the attorney general’s office that the legislation should include language that removes Social Security numbers, personal addresses and cell-phone numbers from the documents.

The League of Women Voters in Rhode Island indicated support for the legislation, as did the Rhode Island Affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union.

“We think it’s excellent,” said Hillary Davis, a policy associate with the ACLU.

Aside from the bills heard Tuesday, committee members said that a package of public-records legislation, described as comprehensive, is expected to come out within the next two weeks.


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