Kelli Stargel files bill to exempt universities from open-meeting laws

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State Sen. Kelli Stargel wants to exclude university support organizations from certain open-meeting regulations.

The Central Florida Republican filed Bill SB 318 Friday. She proposes that university direct-support groups have the right to meet in private when discussing research and donor issues, exempting them from Florida’s Sunshine Laws.

Exemptions would be for portions of meetings involving discussions of donors or potential donors, bids for research funding or plans for initiating or supporting research, reports the News Service of Florida.

“For the benefit of state universities and ultimately all the people of Florida, university direct-support organizations serve a vital role in raising donations from private sources,” according to the text of the bill.

“This undertaking demands great sensitivity, and discretion as donors frequently request anonymity and are concerned about the potential release of sensitive financial information,” the bill says. “If a direct-support organization cannot honor those requests and protect such information from public disclosure, a potential donor may decline to contribute, thus hampering the ability of the direct-support organization to carry out its activities.”

Republican Rep. Cary Pigman filed the House companion bill (HB 115). Both bills will be considered during the upcoming 2014 legislative session.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.