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Barbara Petersen

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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Independence Day is brought to you by these lobbyists and political associations

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Whether it’s on a boat or at the beach, setting off fireworks or firing up the grill, Floridians are expected to kick off Fourth of July weekend in style. An estimated 2.3 million Floridians are expected to travel during the holiday weekend, part of a historic holiday travel weekend travel pattern, according to AAA – The Auto Club Group. The company forecasts an estimated 44.2 million Americans will travel between Friday and Tuesday. The group expects 2 million Floridians will…

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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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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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Controversial public records bill clears second Senate panel

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A bill giving judges some discretion over whether to award attorney’s fees in public records cases cleared its second committee hearing Monday, but not before being amended in an attempt to alleviate opponents concerns. The bill (SB 80), sponsored by Sen. Greg Steube, aims to give judges discretion in whether they should award fees to the plaintiff and requires request be made in writing in order to be eligible to collect attorney fees. The committee amended the bill Tuesday to…

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