Florida Senate - 2013 PROPOSED COMMITTEE SUBSTITUTE Bill No. SB 50 Barcode 430764 585-01540C-13 Proposed Committee Substitute by the Committee on Governmental Oversight and Accountability 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act relating to public meetings; creating s. 3 286.0114, F.S.; defining “board or commission”; 4 requiring that a member of the public be given a 5 reasonable opportunity to be heard by a board or 6 commission before it takes official action on a 7 proposition; providing exceptions; establishing 8 requirements for rules or policies adopted by the 9 board or commission; providing that compliance with 10 the requirements of this section is deemed to have 11 occurred under certain circumstances; providing that a 12 circuit court has jurisdiction to issue an injunction 13 under certain circumstances; authorizing a court to 14 assess reasonable attorney fees in actions filed 15 against a board or commission; providing that an 16 action taken by a board or commission which is found 17 in violation of this section is not void; providing 18 that the act fulfills an important state interest; 19 providing an effective date. 20 21 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 22 23 Section 1. Section 286.0114, Florida Statutes, is created 24 to read: 25 286.0114 Public meetings; reasonable opportunity to be 26 heard; attorney fees.— 27 (1) For purposes of this section, “board or commission” 28 means a board or commission of any state agency or authority or 29 of any agency or authority of a county, municipal corporation, 30 or political subdivision. 31 (2) Members of the public shall be given a reasonable 32 opportunity to be heard on a proposition before a board or 33 commission. 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 proposition, if the opportunity occurs at a 36 meeting that satisfies the same notice requirements as the 37 meeting at which the board or commission takes official action 38 on the proposition, occurs at a meeting that is during the 39 decisionmaking process, and is within reasonable proximity in 40 time before the meeting at which the board or commission takes 41 the official action. This section does not prohibit a board or 42 commission from maintaining orderly conduct or proper decorum in 43 a public meeting. The opportunity to be heard is subject to 44 rules or policies adopted by the board or commission, as 45 provided in subsection (4). 46 (3) The requirements in subsection (2) do not apply to: 47 (a) An official act that must be taken to deal with an 48 emergency situation affecting the public health, welfare, or 49 safety, when compliance with the requirements would cause an 50 unreasonable delay in the ability of the board or commission to 51 act; 52 (b) An official act involving no more than a ministerial 53 act; 54 (c) A meeting that is exempt from s. 286.011; or 55 (d) A meeting during which the board or commission is 56 acting in a quasi-judicial capacity. This paragraph does not 57 affect the right of a person to be heard as otherwise provided 58 by law. 59 (4) Rules or policies of a board or commission which govern 60 the opportunity to be heard are limited to those that: 61 (a) Provide guidelines regarding the amount of time an 62 individual has to address the board or commission; 63 (b) Prescribe procedures for allowing representatives of 64 groups or factions on a proposition to address the board or 65 commission, rather than all members of such groups or factions, 66 at meetings in which a large number of individuals wish to be 67 heard; 68 (c) Prescribe procedures or forms for an individual to use 69 in order to inform the board or commission of a desire to be 70 heard; to indicate his or her support, opposition, or neutrality 71 on a proposition; and to indicate his or her designation of a 72 representative to speak for him or her or his or her group on a 73 proposition if he or she so chooses; or 74 (d) Designate a specified period of time for public 75 comment. 76 (5) If a board or commission adopts rules or policies in 77 compliance with this section and follows such rules or policies 78 when providing an opportunity for members of the public to be 79 heard, the board or commission is deemed to be acting in 80 compliance with this section. 81 (6) A circuit court has jurisdiction to issue an injunction 82 for the purpose of enforcing this section upon the filing of an 83 application for such injunction by a citizen of this state. 84 (7)(a) Whenever an action is filed against a board or 85 commission to enforce this section, the court shall assess 86 reasonable attorney fees against such board or commission if the 87 court determines that the defendant to such action acted in 88 violation of this section. The court may assess reasonable 89 attorney fees against the individual filing such an action if 90 the court finds that the action was filed in bad faith or was 91 frivolous. This paragraph does not apply to a state attorney or 92 his or her duly authorized assistants or an officer charged with 93 enforcing this section. 94 (b) Whenever a board or commission appeals a court order 95 that has found the board or commission to have violated this 96 section, and such order is affirmed, the court shall assess 97 reasonable attorney fees for the appeal against such board or 98 commission. 99 (8) An action taken by a board or commission which is found 100 to be in violation of this section is not void as a result of 101 that violation. 102 Section 2. The Legislature finds that a proper and 103 legitimate state purpose is served when members of the public 104 have been given a reasonable opportunity to be heard on a 105 proposition before a board or commission of a state agency or 106 authority, or of an agency or authority of a county, municipal 107 corporation, or political subdivision. Therefore, the 108 Legislature determines and declares that this act fulfills an 109 important state interest. 110 Section 3. This act shall take effect October 1, 2013.