Florida Senate - 2014 SB 1002 By Senator Hays 11-00403-14 20141002__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act relating to public records; creating s. 3 559.5558, F.S.; providing a public records exemption 4 for information held by the Office of Financial 5 Regulation pursuant to an investigation or examination 6 of consumer collection agencies; providing for future 7 repeal and legislative review of the exemption under 8 the Open Government Sunset Review Act; providing a 9 statement of public necessity; providing a contingent 10 effective date. 11 12 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 13 14 Section 1. Section 559.5558, Florida Statutes, is created 15 to read: 16 559.5558 Public records exemption.— 17 (1) DEFINITIONS.—As used in this section, the term 18 “personal financial and health information” means: 19 (a) Information relating to the existence, nature, source, 20 or amount of a consumer’s personal income, expenses, and debt; 21 (b) Information relating to a consumer’s financial 22 transactions of any kind; 23 (c) Information relating to the existence, identification, 24 nature, or value of a consumer’s assets, liabilities, or net 25 worth; 26 (d) A consumer’s personal health condition, disease, or 27 injury; or 28 (e) A history of a consumer’s personal medical diagnosis or 29 treatment. 30 (2) INVESTIGATIONS AND EXAMINATIONS.— 31 (a) Except as otherwise provided in this section, 32 information held by the office pursuant to an investigation or 33 examination of a violation of this part is confidential and 34 exempt from s. 119.07(1) and s. 24(a), Art. I of the State 35 Constitution. However, information made confidential and exempt 36 pursuant to this section may be disclosed by the office to a law 37 enforcement agency or another administrative agency in the 38 performance of its official duties and responsibilities. 39 (b) Such information is no longer confidential and exempt 40 once the investigation or examination is completed or ceases to 41 be active unless disclosure of the information would: 42 1. Jeopardize the integrity of another active investigation 43 or examination; 44 2. Reveal the personal identifying information of a 45 consumer, unless the consumer is also the complainant. In the 46 case of a complainant, the complainant’s personal identifying 47 information is subject to disclosure after the investigation or 48 examination is completed or ceases to be active; however, the 49 complainant’s personal financial and health information remains 50 confidential and exempt; 51 3. Reveal the identity of a confidential source; 52 4. Reveal investigative or examination techniques or 53 procedures; or 54 5. Reveal trade secrets, as defined in s. 688.002. 55 (c) For purposes of this section, an investigation or 56 examination shall be considered active if the investigation or 57 examination is proceeding with reasonable dispatch and the 58 office has a reasonable good faith belief that the investigation 59 or examination may lead to the filing of an administrative, 60 civil, or criminal proceeding or the denial or conditional grant 61 of an application for registration or other approval required 62 under this part. 63 (3) REVIEW AND REPEAL.—This section is subject to the Open 64 Government Sunset Review Act in accordance with s. 119.15 and 65 shall stand repealed on October 2, 2019, unless reviewed and 66 saved from repeal through reenactment by the Legislature. 67 Section 2. The Legislature finds that it is a public 68 necessity that information held by the Office of Financial 69 Regulation pursuant to an investigation or examination conducted 70 under part VI of chapter 559, Florida Statutes, be confidential 71 and exempt from public records requirements for the following 72 reasons: 73 (1) An investigation or examination conducted by the Office 74 of Financial Regulation may lead to the filing of an 75 administrative, civil, or criminal proceeding or to the denial 76 or conditional granting of a registration. The premature release 77 of such information could frustrate or thwart the investigation 78 or examination and impair the ability of the office to 79 effectively and efficiently administer part VI of chapter 559, 80 Florida Statutes. 81 (2) Information held by the Office of Financial Regulation 82 which is provided to a law enforcement agency or another 83 administrative agency for further investigation or examination 84 needs to remain confidential and exempt until the investigation 85 or examination is completed or ceases to be active. Release of 86 this information before the completion of that investigation or 87 examination would jeopardize the integrity of the investigation 88 and impair the ability of other agencies to carry out their 89 statutory duties. 90 (3) Investigations and examinations of consumer collection 91 agencies frequently involve the gathering of sensitive personal 92 information, including financial and health information 93 concerning complainants and consumers. The office may not 94 otherwise have access to this sensitive personal information but 95 for the investigation or examination. Because of the sensitive 96 personal nature of the information gathered, if the individuals 97 who are the subjects of such information are identifiable, the 98 disclosure of this information to the public could cause 99 unwarranted damage to the good names or reputations of the 100 individuals, especially if information associated with the 101 individuals is inaccurate. Furthermore, if the individuals who 102 are the subjects of such information are identifiable, public 103 access to such information could jeopardize the financial safety 104 of such individuals by placing them at risk of becoming the 105 subjects of identity theft. The Legislature further finds that 106 it is a public necessity that health information held by the 107 office be made confidential and exempt because matters of 108 personal health are traditionally private and confidential 109 concerns between the patient and the health care provider. The 110 private and confidential nature of personal health matters 111 pervades both the public and private health care sectors. 112 Moreover, public disclosure of health information could have a 113 negative effect upon a person’s business and personal 114 relationships and could also have detrimental financial 115 consequences. 116 (4) Releasing information identifying a confidential source 117 could jeopardize both the integrity of a current and future 118 investigation or examination as well as the safety of the 119 confidential source. 120 (5) Revealing investigative or examination techniques and 121 procedures could allow a person to hide or conceal violations of 122 law that otherwise would have been discovered during an 123 investigation or examination. This exemption is necessary for 124 the office, as well as law enforcement and other administrative 125 agencies, in order for such agencies to effectively and 126 efficiently carry out their statutory duties, which would be 127 significantly impaired without this exemption. 128 (6) A trade secret derives independent economic value, 129 actual or potential, from not being generally known to, and not 130 readily ascertainable by, other persons who can obtain economic 131 value from its disclosure or use. Without an exemption for a 132 trade secret held by the office, that trade secret becomes a 133 public record when received and must be divulged upon request. 134 Divulging a trade secret under the public records law would 135 destroy the value of that property, causing a financial loss to 136 the person or entity submitting the trade secret. Release of 137 that information would give business competitors an unfair 138 advantage and weaken the position of the person or entity 139 supplying the trade secret in the marketplace. 140 Section 3. This act shall take effect on the same date that 141 SB __ or substantially similar legislation takes effect, if such 142 legislation is adopted in the same legislative session or an 143 extension thereof and becomes a law.