HB 355

A bill to be entitled
2An act relating to public meetings; amending s.
3112.3215, F.S.; conforming a cross-reference; amending
4s. 286.011, F.S.; requiring that members of the public
5be given a reasonable opportunity to be heard before a
6board or commission takes official action on an item
7of significant interest to the public under certain
8circumstances; providing exceptions; requiring that a
9board or commission adopt rules; providing an
10effective date.
12Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
14     Section 1.  Paragraph (b) of subsection (8) of section
15112.3215, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
16     112.3215  Lobbying before the executive branch or the
17Constitution Revision Commission; registration and reporting;
18investigation by commission.-
19     (8)
20     (b)  All proceedings, the complaint, and other records
21relating to the investigation are confidential and exempt from
22the provisions of s. 119.07(1) and s. 24(a), Art. I of the State
23Constitution, and any meetings held pursuant to an investigation
24are exempt from the provisions of s. 286.011(1) and s. 24(b),
25Art. I of the State Constitution either until the alleged
26violator requests in writing that such investigation and
27associated records and meetings be made public or until the
28commission determines, based on the investigation, whether
29probable cause exists to believe that a violation has occurred.
30     Section 2.  Section 286.011, Florida Statutes, is amended
31to read:
32     286.011  Public meetings and records; opportunity to be
33heard; public inspection; criminal and civil penalties.-
34     (1)(a)  All meetings of any board or commission of any
35state agency or authority or of any agency or authority of any
36county, municipal corporation, or political subdivision, except
37as otherwise provided in the Constitution, at which official
38acts are to be taken are declared to be public meetings open to
39the public at all times, and no resolution, rule, or formal
40action shall be considered binding except as taken or made at
41such meeting. The board or commission must provide reasonable
42notice of all such meetings.
43     (b)1.  Members of the public shall be given a reasonable
44opportunity to be heard on an item that is of significant
45interest to the public and that is within the subject matter
46jurisdiction of the board or commission. The opportunity to be
47heard need not occur at the same meeting at which the board or
48commission takes official action on the item, if the opportunity
49occurs at a meeting that is during the decisionmaking process
50and within reasonable proximity before the board or commission
51takes the official action. The opportunity to be heard is
52subject to reasonable rules or policies adopted by the board or
53commission to ensure the orderly conduct of a public meeting, as
54provided in subparagraph 3. A resolution, rule, or formal action
55is not binding unless taken or made in compliance with this
57     2.  The requirements in subparagraph 1. do not apply to:
58     a.  An official act that must be taken to deal with an
59emergency situation affecting the public health, welfare, or
60safety, when compliance with the requirements would cause an
61unreasonable delay in the ability of the board or commission to
63     b.  An official act involving no more than a ministerial
64act; or
65     c.  A meeting in which the board or commission is acting in
66a quasi-judicial capacity with respect to the rights or
67interests of a person. This sub-subparagraph does not affect the
68right of a person to be heard as otherwise provided by law.
69     3.  Rules or policies of a board or commission adopted
70under subparagraph 5. may:
71     a.  Limit the time an individual has to address the board
72or commission;
73     b.  Require, at meetings in which a large number of
74individuals wish to be heard, that a representative of a group
75or faction on an item, rather than all of the members of the
76group or faction, address the board or commission; or
77     c.  Prescribe procedures or forms for an individual to use
78in order to inform the board or commission of a desire to be
80     4.  If a board or commission adopts rules or policies in
81compliance with this paragraph and follows such rules or
82policies when providing an opportunity for members of the public
83to be heard, it is presumed that the board or commission is
84acting in compliance with this paragraph.
85     5.  Each board or commission that is subject to chapter 120
86shall adopt rules under ss. 120.536(1) and 120.54 to administer
87this paragraph.
88     (2)  The minutes of a meeting of any such board or
89commission of any such state agency or authority shall be
90promptly recorded, and such records shall be open to public
91inspection. The circuit courts of this state shall have
92jurisdiction to issue injunctions to enforce the purposes of
93this section upon application by any citizen of this state.
94     (3)(a)  Any public officer who violates any provision of
95this section commits is guilty of a noncriminal infraction,
96punishable by fine not exceeding $500.
97     (b)  Any person who is a member of a board or commission or
98of any state agency or authority of any county, municipal
99corporation, or political subdivision who knowingly violates the
100provisions of this section by attending a meeting not held in
101accordance with the provisions of this section commits hereof is
102guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as
103provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
104     (c)  Conduct occurring which occurs outside the state which
105would constitute a knowing violation of this section is a
106misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s.
107775.082 or s. 775.083.
108     (4)  Whenever an action has been filed against any board or
109commission of any state agency or authority or any agency or
110authority of any county, municipal corporation, or political
111subdivision to enforce the provisions of this section or to
112invalidate the actions of any such board, commission, agency, or
113authority, which action was taken in violation of this section,
114and the court determines that the defendant or defendants to
115such action acted in violation of this section, the court shall
116assess a reasonable attorney's fee against such agency, and may
117assess a reasonable attorney's fee against the individual filing
118such an action if the court finds it was filed in bad faith or
119was frivolous. Any fees so assessed may be assessed against the
120individual member or members of such board or commission;
121provided, that in any case where the board or commission seeks
122the advice of its attorney and such advice is followed, no such
123fees shall be assessed against the individual member or members
124of the board or commission. However, this subsection does shall
125not apply to a state attorney or his or her duly authorized
126assistants or any officer charged with enforcing the provisions
127of this section.
128     (5)  Whenever any board or commission of any state agency
129or authority or any agency or authority of any county, municipal
130corporation, or political subdivision appeals any court order
131that which has found the said board, commission, agency, or
132authority to have violated this section, and such order is
133affirmed, the court shall assess a reasonable attorney's fee for
134the appeal against such board, commission, agency, or authority.
135Any fees so assessed may be assessed against the individual
136member or members of such board or commission; provided, that in
137any case where the board or commission seeks the advice of its
138attorney and such advice is followed, no such fees shall be
139assessed against the individual member or members of the board
140or commission.
141     (6)  All persons subject to paragraph (1)(a) subsection (1)
142are prohibited from holding meetings at any facility or location
143that which discriminates on the basis of sex, age, race, creed,
144color, origin, or economic status or that which operates in such
145a manner as to unreasonably restrict public access to such a
147     (7)  Whenever any member of any board or commission of any
148state agency or authority or any agency or authority of any
149county, municipal corporation, or political subdivision is
150charged with a violation of this section and is subsequently
151acquitted, the board or commission is authorized to reimburse
152the said member for any portion of his or her reasonable
153attorney's fees.
154     (8)  Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (1)(a)
155subsection (1), any board or commission of any state agency or
156authority or any agency or authority of any county, municipal
157corporation, or political subdivision, and the chief
158administrative or executive officer of the governmental entity,
159may meet in private with the entity's attorney to discuss
160pending litigation to which the entity is presently a party
161before a court or administrative agency, provided that the
162following conditions are met:
163     (a)  The entity's attorney shall advise the entity at a
164public meeting that he or she desires advice concerning the
166     (b)  The subject matter of the meeting shall be confined to
167settlement negotiations or strategy sessions related to
168litigation expenditures.
169     (c)  The entire session shall be recorded by a certified
170court reporter. The reporter shall record the times of
171commencement and termination of the session, all discussion and
172proceedings, the names of all persons present at any time, and
173the names of all persons speaking. No portion of the session
174shall be off the record. The court reporter's notes shall be
175fully transcribed and filed with the entity's clerk within a
176reasonable time after the meeting.
177     (d)  The entity shall give reasonable public notice of the
178time and date of the attorney-client session and the names of
179persons who will be attending the session. The session shall
180commence at an open meeting at which the persons chairing the
181meeting shall announce the commencement and estimated length of
182the attorney-client session and the names of the persons
183attending. At the conclusion of the attorney-client session, the
184meeting shall be reopened, and the person chairing the meeting
185shall announce the termination of the session.
186     (e)  The transcript shall be made part of the public record
187upon conclusion of the litigation.
188     Section 3.  This act shall take effect July 1, 2012.

CODING: Words stricken are deletions; words underlined are additions.