A New Bill Could Change The Way You Submit An Open Records Request In Florida

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Winnie Wright
March 31, 2014

Tallahassee, FL - "What we're trying to do is improve on already, a good transparency effort that we have in the State of Florida; making sure we have transparent, open government. What this bill attempts to do is take some of the problems we currently have and make those problems better", says Representative Dave Hood.

House Bill 1151 requires that all governmental agencies provide training on the requirements of open records law. It also says a public records request can be made to any government employee, at any time.

Opponents of the bill say not every government employee is trained on how to handle public records... and they shouldn't be. They say this is the job of the Custodians of Public Record.

The Florida League of Cities offers up a different type of training.

"Any time you, public employee, get a public records request, if you are not the Custodian of Public Records, that your response is 'I'm not the Custodian of Public Records. I'm not the appropriate person to make an open records request of. The City Clerk, or whoever is identified is the appropriate person. Here is their contact information'", says Kraig Conn, Legislative Counsel for the Florida League of Cities.

The bill also requires proof that someone has tried to contact the Custodian of Record before filing any civil action. Conn says this will limit the number of lawsuits filed against governmental entities for not handing over public record at the moment it is requested.

Representative Hood also says once the law is passed, the public will also need to be trained on the new procedures by which you file an open records request. According to FLSenate.gov, the bill will go in to effect July 1 of this year.