Florida Senate - 2012                CS for CS for CS for SB 206
       By the Committees on Governmental Oversight and Accountability;
       Rules; and Rules Subcommittee on Ethics and Elections; and
       Senators Negron, Gaetz, and Evers
       585-02796-12                                           2012206c3
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to public meetings; creating s.
    3         286.0114, F.S.; requiring that a member of the public
    4         be given a reasonable opportunity to be heard before a
    5         board or commission takes official action on a
    6         proposition before a board or commission of any state
    7         agency or authority or of any agency or authority of
    8         any county, municipal corporation, or political
    9         subdivision; providing that the opportunity to be
   10         heard is subject to rules or policies adopted by the
   11         board or commission; specifying certain exceptions;
   12         providing requirements for rules or policies governing
   13         the opportunity to be heard; providing that compliance
   14         with the requirements of the act is presumed under
   15         certain circumstances; authorizing a court to assess
   16         reasonable attorney fees in actions filed against a
   17         board or commission; providing that any action taken
   18         by a board or commission which is found in violation
   19         of the act is not void; providing that circuit courts
   20         have jurisdiction to issue injunctions for purposes of
   21         the act; requiring that a board or commission that is
   22         subject to ch. 120, F.S., adopt rules; providing an
   23         effective date.
   25  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   27         Section 1. Section 286.0114, Florida Statutes, is created
   28  to read:
   29         286.0114 Public meetings; reasonable opportunity to be
   30  heard; attorney fees.—
   31         (1) Members of the public shall be given a reasonable
   32  opportunity to be heard on a proposition before a board or
   33  commission of any state agency or authority or of any agency or
   34  authority of any county, municipal corporation, or political
   35  subdivision. The opportunity to be heard need not occur at the
   36  same meeting at which the board or commission takes official
   37  action on the item, if the opportunity occurs at a meeting that
   38  meets the same notice requirements as the meeting at which the
   39  board or commission takes official action on the item, occurs at
   40  a meeting that is during the decisionmaking process, and is
   41  within reasonable proximity before the meeting at which the
   42  board or commission takes the official action. The opportunity
   43  to be heard is subject to reasonable rules or policies adopted
   44  by the board or commission to ensure the orderly conduct of a
   45  public meeting, as provided in subsection (3).
   46         (2) The requirements in subsection (1) do not apply to:
   47         (a) An official act that must be taken to deal with an
   48  emergency situation affecting the public health, welfare, or
   49  safety, when compliance with the requirements would cause an
   50  unreasonable delay in the ability of the board or commission to
   51  act;
   52         (b) An official act involving no more than a ministerial
   53  act; or
   54         (c) A meeting in which the board or commission is acting in
   55  a quasi-judicial capacity with respect to the rights or
   56  interests of a person. This paragraph does not affect the right
   57  of a person to be heard as otherwise provided by law.
   58         (3) Rules or policies of a board or commission adopted
   59  under subsection (5) must be limited to rules or policies that:
   60         (a) Limit the time an individual has to address the board
   61  or commission;
   62         (b) Require, at meetings in which a large number of
   63  individuals wish to be heard, that representatives of groups or
   64  factions on an item, rather than all of the members of the
   65  groups or factions, address the board or commission; or
   66         (c) Prescribe procedures or forms for an individual to use
   67  in order to inform the board or commission of a desire to be
   68  heard, to indicate his or her support, opposition, or neutrality
   69  on a proposition, and to indicate his or her designation of a
   70  representative to speak for him or her or his or her group on a
   71  proposition if he or she so chooses.
   72         (4)(a) If a board or commission adopts rules or policies in
   73  compliance with this section and follows such rules or policies
   74  when providing an opportunity for members of the public to be
   75  heard, it is presumed that the board or commission is acting in
   76  compliance with this section.
   77         (b) Whenever an action is filed against a board or
   78  commission of any state agency or authority of a county,
   79  municipal corporation, or political subdivision to enforce the
   80  provisions of this section, the court shall assess reasonable
   81  attorney fees against such agency or authority if the court
   82  determines that the defendant to such action acted in violation
   83  of this section. The court may assess reasonable attorney fees
   84  against the individual filing such an action if the court finds
   85  that the action was filed in bad faith or was frivolous. This
   86  paragraph does not apply to a state attorney or his or her duly
   87  authorized assistants or any officer charged with enforcing the
   88  provisions of this section.
   89         (c) Any action taken by a board or commission which is
   90  found to be in violation of this section is not void as a result
   91  of that violation.
   92         (d) The circuit courts shall have jurisdiction to issue
   93  injunctions for the purpose of enforcing this section upon the
   94  filing of an application for such injunction by any citizen of
   95  this state.
   96         (5) Each board or commission that is subject to chapter 120
   97  shall adopt rules under ss. 120.536(1) and 120.54 to administer
   98  this section.
   99         Section 2. This act shall take effect July 1, 2012.