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. 22 23 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 24 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.