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Florida’s Public Records Act Vol. 3 – Can an Agency say No?

Can an Agency say No to a Public Records Request?

The short answer is rarely, if ever, can an agency say “no” to a public records request. The only real constraints or limitations that a person should face when asking to inspect or copy public records are guided by Section 119.07(1)(a), Florida Statutes. This statute limits inspection or copying to “any reasonable time, under reasonable conditions, and under supervision.” Otherwise, there should be no denial of a public record to anyone with a few caveats. First and foremost, the request has to be for an actual public record, not just any document. Although there are several points that could be made here, just a few are discussed below.

Florida’s Public Records Act Vol. 2 – Who has to abide by the Public Records Act?

Who has to abide by the Public Records Act?

An “agency” is defined fairly clearly by Section 119.011(2), Florida Statutes. Essentially it is any unit of state or local government and any public or private entity, i.e., person, partnership, corporation, etc., acting on behalf of any public agency. Some of the entities included within this definition are pretty obvious, but whether an entity is acting on behalf of the a public agency can be a bit tricky at times.

Florida’s Public Records Act Vol. 1 – What are public records?

What are public records?

Florida prides itself in having an open government and many of Florida’s records are open to the public. Not everything falls under the category of a public record though, and likely for good reason. Public records are defined in Section 119.011(12), Florida Statutes and are essentially any document, recording, or material of any form made or received pursuant to law or ordinance connected with the official business of any agency.

Florida Sunshine Law Vol. 4 – Consequences of violating the Sunshine Law

What are the consequences of violating the Sunshine Law?

Violations of Florida’s Sunshine Law can bring stiff and far reaching consequences, some of which are not just against the board members, commissioners, etc. involved. For starters, there can be criminal penalties. If a board member, commissioner, etc. knowingly violates the Sunshine Law, the individual is likely guilty of a second degree misdemeanor, which can include 60 days of imprisonment and a fine of up to $500.

Florida Sunshine Law Vol. 3 – Misconceptions about the Sunshine Law

Misconceptions about the Sunshine Law<\strong>

There are several misconceptions about Florida’s Sunshine Law that I would like to address in this third installment. One of the largest that I believe is slowly getting recognized and understood is the right to participate or comment in meetings falling under the requirements of Chapter 286, Florida Statutes.

Florida’s Sunshine Law Vol. 2 – Who and what does it cover?

Who and what does the Florida Sunshine Law cover?

Florida’s Sunshine Law promotes the state’s policy towards open government. In fact, it is required by Article I, Section 24 of the Florida Constitution. Does the open policy apply to every government entity in Florida, does it apply to all members of the government, its agencies, etc., and does it cover every type of meeting? The Sunshine Law applies to “any board or commission of any state agency or authority or of any agency or authority of any county, municipal corporation or political subdivision.” Section 286.011, Florida Statutes. Notice that the Sunshine Law applies to state, county, municipal or political subdivisions; it does not apply to federal agencies or federal entities of any type.

Florida’s Sunshine Law Vol. 1 – What is Florida’s Sunshine Law?

What is Florida’s Sunshine Law?

Florida has a long history of openness dating back to at least 1909 when the “Public Records Law” (Chapter 119, Florida Statutes) was passed. Since that time, Florida has enacted several laws and amended the Florida Constitution to ensure openness in the government. One important part of these statutes is Florida’s “Sunshine Law” (Chapter 286, Florida Statutes). So how far does this openness go and what type of openness does it provide?

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