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public records

Watchdog group claims hotel industry, FIU, teaming for anti-Airbnb research

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A watchdog group called the Checks & Balances Project is charging that the leading hotel industry association may be paying Florida International University to produce research for the industry’s lobbying against Airbnb and other home-sharing marketing companies.

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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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House wants to conceal murder witnesses’ identities

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The Florida House is poised to approve a bill that would conceal the identities of those who have witnessed a murder from public records. House members prepared the bill for a final vote on Wednesday after the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Cynthia Stafford, said it would encourage murder witnesses to come forward and bring perpetrators to justice. If passed, the bill would keep witnesses’ personal information confidential for two years after the murder occurred. The Florida First Amendment Foundation has scrutinized…

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Constitutional rewrite panel’s transparency rules would track Legislature’s

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Just like the Legislature, any two members of the new Constitution Revision Commission could meet out of the “sunshine,” according to a copy of the panel’s proposed rules. The draft rules, posted online Monday, say that “all meetings at which Commission business is discussed between more than two members of the Commission shall be open to the public, following the procedure outlined in the Florida Constitution.” If approved, the commission will follow the constitutional provision governing legislative meetings, which says…

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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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Public records bill barely gets out of first committee

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A bill that would give judges discretion to award attorney fees in public records lawsuits squeaked out of its first review panel Tuesday. The Senate’s Governmental Oversight and Accountability cleared the bill (SB 80) by a 4-3 vote. It goes next to the Community Affairs Committee. The measure changes the word “shall” to “may” regarding courts awarding legal fees when an “agency (has) unlawfully refused to permit a public record … to be inspected or copied.” It would also require a “complainant (to) provide…

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Bill again targets attorney fees in public records cases

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A bill that would give judges the discretion to award attorney fees in public records lawsuits was refiled Wednesday in the Florida Legislature. New state Sen. Greg Steube, a Sarasota Republican and lawyer, is again behind the legislation (SB 80). He backed a version of the bill last session as a state representative. It passed the Senate unanimously but died in the House. The measure changes the word “shall” to “may” regarding courts awarding legal fees when an “agency (has) unlawfully…

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