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The Florida Statutes

The 2023 Florida Statutes (including Special Session C)

Title X
Chapter 119
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F.S. 119.15
119.15 Legislative review of exemptions from public meeting and public records requirements.
(1) This section may be cited as the “Open Government Sunset Review Act.”
(2) This section provides for the review and repeal or reenactment of an exemption from s. 24, Art. I of the State Constitution and s. 119.07(1) or s. 286.011. This act does not apply to an exemption that:
(a) Is required by federal law; or
(b) Applies solely to the Legislature or the State Court System.
(3) In the 5th year after enactment of a new exemption or substantial amendment of an existing exemption, the exemption shall be repealed on October 2nd of the 5th year, unless the Legislature acts to reenact the exemption.
(4)(a) A law that enacts a new exemption or substantially amends an existing exemption must state that the record or meeting is:
1. Exempt from s. 24, Art. I of the State Constitution;
2. Exempt from s. 119.07(1) or s. 286.011; and
3. Repealed at the end of 5 years and that the exemption must be reviewed by the Legislature before the scheduled repeal date.
(b) For purposes of this section, an exemption is substantially amended if the amendment expands the scope of the exemption to include more records or information or to include meetings as well as records. An exemption is not substantially amended if the amendment narrows the scope of the exemption.
(c) This section is not intended to repeal an exemption that has been amended following legislative review before the scheduled repeal of the exemption if the exemption is not substantially amended as a result of the review.
(5)(a) By June 1 in the year before the repeal of an exemption under this section, the Office of Legislative Services shall certify to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives the language and statutory citation of each exemption scheduled for repeal the following year.
(b) An exemption that is not identified and certified to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives is not subject to legislative review and repeal under this section. If the office fails to certify an exemption that it subsequently determines should have been certified, it shall include the exemption in the following year’s certification after that determination.
(6)(a) As part of the review process, the Legislature shall consider the following:
1. What specific records or meetings are affected by the exemption?
2. Whom does the exemption uniquely affect, as opposed to the general public?
3. What is the identifiable public purpose or goal of the exemption?
4. Can the information contained in the records or discussed in the meeting be readily obtained by alternative means? If so, how?
5. Is the record or meeting protected by another exemption?
6. Are there multiple exemptions for the same type of record or meeting that it would be appropriate to merge?
(b) An exemption may be created, revised, or maintained only if it serves an identifiable public purpose, and the exemption may be no broader than is necessary to meet the public purpose it serves. An identifiable public purpose is served if the exemption meets one of the following purposes and the Legislature finds that the purpose is sufficiently compelling to override the strong public policy of open government and cannot be accomplished without the exemption:
1. Allows the state or its political subdivisions to effectively and efficiently administer a governmental program, which administration would be significantly impaired without the exemption;
2. Protects information of a sensitive personal nature concerning individuals, the release of which information would be defamatory to such individuals or cause unwarranted damage to the good name or reputation of such individuals or would jeopardize the safety of such individuals. However, in exemptions under this subparagraph, only information that would identify the individuals may be exempted; or
3. Protects information of a confidential nature concerning entities, including, but not limited to, a formula, pattern, device, combination of devices, or compilation of information which is used to protect or further a business advantage over those who do not know or use it, the disclosure of which information would injure the affected entity in the marketplace.
(7) Records made before the date of a repeal of an exemption under this section may not be made public unless otherwise provided by law. In deciding whether the records shall be made public, the Legislature shall consider whether the damage or loss to persons or entities uniquely affected by the exemption of the type specified in subparagraph (6)(b)2. or subparagraph (6)(b)3. would occur if the records were made public.
(8) Notwithstanding s. 768.28 or any other law, neither the state or its political subdivisions nor any other public body shall be made party to any suit in any court or incur any liability for the repeal or revival and reenactment of an exemption under this section. The failure of the Legislature to comply strictly with this section does not invalidate an otherwise valid reenactment.
History.s. 2, ch. 95-217; s. 25, ch. 98-136; s. 37, ch. 2005-251; s. 15, ch. 2006-1; s. 5, ch. 2012-51.