Florida Senate - 2013                                      SB 50
       By Senator Negron
       32-00046-13                                             201350__
    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; providing an effective date.
   23  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   25         Section 1. Section 286.0114, Florida Statutes, is created
   26  to read:
   27         286.0114 Public meetings; reasonable opportunity to be
   28  heard; attorney fees.—
   29         (1) Members of the public shall be given a reasonable
   30  opportunity to be heard on a proposition before a board or
   31  commission of any state agency or authority or of any agency or
   32  authority of any county, municipal corporation, or political
   33  subdivision. The opportunity to be heard need not occur at the
   34  same meeting at which the board or commission takes official
   35  action on the item, if the opportunity occurs at a meeting that
   36  meets the same notice requirements as the meeting at which the
   37  board or commission takes official action on the item, occurs at
   38  a meeting that is during the decisionmaking process, and is
   39  within reasonable proximity before the meeting at which the
   40  board or commission takes the official action. The opportunity
   41  to be heard is subject to reasonable rules or policies adopted
   42  by the board or commission to ensure the orderly conduct of a
   43  public meeting, as provided in subsection (3).
   44         (2) The requirements in subsection (1) do not apply to:
   45         (a) An official act that must be taken to deal with an
   46  emergency situation affecting the public health, welfare, or
   47  safety, when compliance with the requirements would cause an
   48  unreasonable delay in the ability of the board or commission to
   49  act;
   50         (b) An official act involving no more than a ministerial
   51  act;
   52         (c) Any meeting that is exempt from the provisions of s.
   53  286.011; or
   54         (d) 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 must be
   59  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;
   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; or
   72         (d) Designate a specified period of time for public
   73  comment.
   74         (4)(a) If a board or commission adopts rules or policies in
   75  compliance with this section and follows such rules or policies
   76  when providing an opportunity for members of the public to be
   77  heard, it is presumed that the board or commission is acting in
   78  compliance with this section.
   79         (b) Whenever an action is filed against a board or
   80  commission of any state agency or authority of a county,
   81  municipal corporation, or political subdivision to enforce the
   82  provisions of this section, the court shall assess reasonable
   83  attorney fees against such agency or authority if the court
   84  determines that the defendant to such action acted in violation
   85  of this section. The court may assess reasonable attorney fees
   86  against the individual filing such an action if the court finds
   87  that the action was filed in bad faith or was frivolous. This
   88  paragraph does not apply to a state attorney or his or her duly
   89  authorized assistants or any officer charged with enforcing the
   90  provisions of this section.
   91         (c) Any action taken by a board or commission which is
   92  found to be in violation of this section is not void as a result
   93  of that violation.
   94         (d) The circuit courts have jurisdiction to issue
   95  injunctions for the purpose of enforcing this section upon the
   96  filing of an application for such injunction by any citizen of
   97  this state.
   98         Section 2. This act shall take effect July 1, 2013.