Florida Senate - 2014 SB 318 By Senator Stargel 15-00312-14 2014318__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act relating to public meetings; amending s. 3 1004.28, F.S.; providing an exemption from public 4 meeting requirements for any portion of a meeting of 5 the board of directors of a university direct-support 6 organization, or of the executive committee or other 7 committees of such board, at which the identity of a 8 donor or prospective donor, a proposal seeking 9 research funding from the organization, or a plan or 10 program for initiating or supporting research is 11 discussed; providing for future legislative review and 12 repeal of the exemption under the Open Government 13 Sunset Review Act; providing a statement of public 14 necessity; providing an effective date. 15 16 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 17 18 Section 1. Subsection (5) of section 1004.28, Florida 19 Statutes, is amended to read: 20 1004.28 Direct-support organizations; use of property; 21 board of directors; activities; audit; facilities.— 22 (5) ANNUAL AUDIT; PUBLIC RECORDS EXEMPTION; PUBLIC MEETINGS 23 EXEMPTION.— 24 (a) Each university direct-support organization shall 25 provide for an annual financial audit of its accounts and 26 records to be conducted by an independent certified public 27 accountant in accordance with rules adopted by the Auditor 28 General pursuant to s. 11.45(8) and by the university board of 29 trustees. The annual audit report shall be submitted, within 9 30 months after the end of the fiscal year, to the Auditor General 31 and the Board of Governors for review. The Board of Governors, 32 the university board of trustees, the Auditor General, and the 33 Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability 34 may
shall have the authority torequire and receive from the 35 organization or from its independent auditor any records 36 relative to the operation of the organization. The identity of 37 donors who desire to remain anonymous shall be protected, and 38 that anonymity shall be maintained in the auditor’s report. 39 (b) All records of the university direct-support 40 organization other than the auditor’s report, management letter, 41 and any supplemental data requested by the Board of Governors, 42 the university board of trustees, the Auditor General, and the 43 Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability 44 shall be confidential and exempt from the provisions ofs. 45 119.07(1). 46 (c) Any portion of a meeting of the board of directors of 47 the university direct-support organization, or of the executive 48 committee or other committees of such board, at which the 49 identity of a donor or prospective donor, a proposal seeking 50 research funding from the organization, or a plan or program for 51 initiating or supporting research is discussed is exempt from s. 52 286.011 and s. 24(b), Art. I of the State Constitution. This 53 paragraph is subject to the Open Government Sunset Review Act in 54 accordance with s. 119.15 and shall stand repealed on October 2, 55 2019, unless reviewed and saved from repeal through reenactment 56 by the Legislature. 57 Section 2. (1) The Legislature finds that it is a public 58 necessity that any portion of a meeting of the board of 59 directors of a university direct-support organization 60 established under s. 1004.28, Florida Statutes, or of the 61 executive committee or other committees of such board, at which 62 the identity of a donor or prospective donor, a proposal seeking 63 research funding from the organization, or a plan or program for 64 initiating or supporting research is discussed be exempt from s. 65 286.011, Florida Statutes, and s. 24(b), Article I of the State 66 Constitution. 67 (2) For the benefit of state universities and ultimately 68 all the people of Florida, university direct-support 69 organizations serve a vital role in raising donations from 70 private sources. This undertaking demands great sensitivity and 71 discretion, as donors frequently request anonymity and are 72 concerned about the potential release of sensitive financial 73 information. If a direct-support organization cannot honor those 74 requests and protect such information from public disclosure, a 75 potential donor may decline to contribute, thus hampering the 76 ability of the direct-support organization to carry out its 77 activities. The state has recognized these realities by making 78 most of the records of direct-support organizations confidential 79 and exempt from public records requirements, including the 80 identity of donors and prospective donors. However, without the 81 exemption from public meeting requirements, release of the 82 identity of donors or prospective donors via a public meeting 83 would defeat the purpose of the public records exemption. 84 (3) The Legislature also finds that the resources raised by 85 university direct-support organizations are frequently used to 86 initiate, develop, and fund plans and programs for research, 87 including university-connected research projects that provide 88 valuable opportunities for faculty and students and may lead to 89 future commercial applications. Raising these resources for 90 research projects requires university direct-support 91 organizations to develop research strategies and evaluate 92 proposals for research grants which routinely contain sensitive 93 or proprietary information, including specific research 94 approaches and areas of investigation, the disclosure of which 95 could affect the integrity of those conducting the research. The 96 ability to retain the confidentiality of research strategies, 97 plans, and proposals is a hallmark of a responsible funding 98 process and assures candid exchanges among peer and technical 99 reviewers as practiced by the National Science Foundation and 100 the National Institutes of Health. The state has recognized 101 these realities by expressly making most of the records of the 102 direct-support organizations in this state confidential and 103 exempt from public records requirements, including proposals 104 seeking research funding. Failure to close a meeting during 105 which research strategies, plans, and proposals are discussed 106 would significantly undermine the confidentiality of the 107 strategies, plans, and proposals. Without the exemption from 108 public meeting requirements, the release during a public meeting 109 of a proposal seeking research funding from a university direct 110 support organization or of a plan or program for initiating or 111 supporting research would defeat the purpose of the public 112 records exemption. 113 (4) The Legislature therefore declares that it is a public 114 necessity that any portion of a meeting of the board of 115 directors of a university direct-support organization, or of the 116 executive committee or other committees of such board, at which 117 the identity of a donor or prospective donor, a proposal seeking 118 research funding from the organization, or a plan or program for 119 initiating or supporting research is discussed be exempt from 120 public meeting requirements. 121 Section 3. This act shall take effect October 1, 2014.