ENROLLED 2013 Legislature CS for CS for SB 50 201350er 1 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 meeting 36 that is during the decisionmaking process and is within 37 reasonable proximity in time before the meeting at which the 38 board or commission takes the official action. This section does 39 not prohibit a board or commission from maintaining orderly 40 conduct or proper decorum in a public meeting. The opportunity 41 to be heard is subject to rules or policies adopted by the board 42 or commission, as provided in subsection (4). 43 (3) The requirements in subsection (2) do not apply to: 44 (a) An official act that must be taken to deal with an 45 emergency situation affecting the public health, welfare, or 46 safety, if compliance with the requirements would cause an 47 unreasonable delay in the ability of the board or commission to 48 act; 49 (b) An official act involving no more than a ministerial 50 act, including, but not limited to, approval of minutes and 51 ceremonial proclamations; 52 (c) A meeting that is exempt from s. 286.011; or 53 (d) A meeting during which the board or commission is 54 acting in a quasi-judicial capacity. This paragraph does not 55 affect the right of a person to be heard as otherwise provided 56 by law. 57 (4) Rules or policies of a board or commission which govern 58 the opportunity to be heard are limited to those that: 59 (a) Provide guidelines regarding the amount of time an 60 individual has to address the board or commission; 61 (b) Prescribe procedures for allowing representatives of 62 groups or factions on a proposition to address the board or 63 commission, rather than all members of such groups or factions, 64 at meetings in which a large number of individuals wish to be 65 heard; 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 (5) 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, the board or commission is deemed to be acting in 78 compliance with this section. 79 (6) A circuit court has jurisdiction to issue an injunction 80 for the purpose of enforcing this section upon the filing of an 81 application for such injunction by a citizen of this state. 82 (7)(a) Whenever an action is filed against a board or 83 commission to enforce this section, the court shall assess 84 reasonable attorney fees against such board or commission if the 85 court determines that the defendant to such action acted in 86 violation of this section. The court may assess reasonable 87 attorney fees against the individual filing such an action if 88 the court finds that the action was filed in bad faith or was 89 frivolous. This paragraph does not apply to a state attorney or 90 his or her duly authorized assistants or an officer charged with 91 enforcing this section. 92 (b) Whenever a board or commission appeals a court order 93 that has found the board or commission to have violated this 94 section, and such order is affirmed, the court shall assess 95 reasonable attorney fees for the appeal against such board or 96 commission. 97 (8) An action taken by a board or commission which is found 98 to be in violation of this section is not void as a result of 99 that violation. 100 Section 2. The Legislature finds that a proper and 101 legitimate state purpose is served when members of the public 102 have been given a reasonable opportunity to be heard on a 103 proposition before a board or commission of a state agency or 104 authority, or of an agency or authority of a county, municipal 105 corporation, or political subdivision. Therefore, the 106 Legislature determines and declares that this act fulfills an 107 important state interest. 108 Section 3. This act shall take effect October 1, 2013.