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First Amendment Foundation

First Amendment Foundation backing Richard Corcoran on transparency

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The Tallahassee-based First Amendment Foundation, the state’s public records and open meetings watchdog, says it is supporting House Speaker Richard Corcoran’s “efforts on (tourism money) transparency and accountability.” In a letter to Corcoran sent Tuesday by foundation President Barbara Petersen, the group responded to Corcoran’s recent “comments in the Orlando Sentinel regarding the need for transparency and accountability for tourism development organizations spending tax dollars to promote the interests of local communities.” “We agree with your statements, Mr. Speaker, and…

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Rick Scott signs 13 more bills into law

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Gov. Rick Scott on Friday evening announced he had signed another 13 bills from the 2017 Legislative Session into law. Those bills include SB 118, which Scott’s office said would “prevent businesses that publish arrest photos from charging a fee to remove them if requested.” The measure was aimed at the growing number of websites that showcase booking mugshots and charge people who ask for their photos to be taken down. But the bill also includes a section on the “administrative sealing of…

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Joe Henderson: Sunshine law should remind leaders that people of Florida are citizens, not serfs

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The irony of the state Constitutional Revision Commission trying to avoid sunshine laws is almost too rich to describe. If allowed to happen, that would be a dark day indeed. But that’s exactly what CRC Chair Carlos Beruff is proposing, even as the commission continues a series of town hall meetings designed to take public input into the process. Beruff, who ran a bare-knuckles campaign for the Republican nomination in the 2016 U.S. Senate race but ultimately crashed when Marco Rubio…

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First Amendment Foundation calls on Rick Scott to veto education bill

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The First Amendment Foundation is weighing in on a wide-sweeping education bill, asking Gov. Rick Scott to veto the measure when it gets to his desk. In a letter to Scott on Tuesday, Barbara Petersen, the president of the First Amendment Foundation, said the organization’s concerns “relate only to the lack of transparency in the process by which major policy decisions regarding Florida’s education system were decided.” Lawmakers narrowly approved the bill (HB 7069) on the final day of the…

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‘Lack of transparency’ causes calls for Rick Scott budget veto

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Both citing a “lack of transparency,” the heads of the League of Women Voters of Florida and the First Amendment Foundation are calling for Gov. Rick Scott to veto the just-passed state budget for 2017-18. But with the House of Representatives passing the budget 98-14 and the Senate approving 34-4 on Monday, there are enough votes there to override a veto, assuming none change. League President Pamela S. Goodman and FAF President Barbara A. Petersen alerted their members in separate emails on Tuesday.…

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Lawmakers approve attorney fee tweak to public record law

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Lawmakers on Thursday unanimously passed a compromise measure on winners of public records lawsuits collecting attorney fees, sending the bill to Gov. Rick Scott. The House passed the Senate bill (SB 80) on a 115-0 vote. The legislation requires judges to award attorney fees if they find an agency broke the public records law and a “requestor” gave five days’ notice before filing suit. Most importantly, a judge must determine if a request was for an “improper purpose,” such as intentionally forcing…

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Carlos Beruff: Constitution Revision Commission won’t waste taxpayers’ money or time

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The newly-formed Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) won’t spend time on changes that can’t pass at the ballot box, its chairman said Monday. “If the public doesn’t feel overwhelmingly supportive of (a proposed amendment), then why do it?” said Carlos Beruff, the Manatee County homebuilder appointed by Gov. Rick Scott. The panel held an organizational meeting in the Capitol. “It just doesn’t make sense (when) we have a threshold of 60 percent,” he added. “We don’t need to waste the taxpayers’ money or…

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