Florida Senate - 2020                                    SB 1162
       By Senator Cruz
       18-00611A-20                                          20201162__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to the Legislature; providing a short
    3         title; amending s. 11.143, F.S.; deleting provisions
    4         regarding the administration of oaths and affirmations
    5         to witnesses appearing before legislative committees,
    6         and associated penalties, to conform to changes made
    7         by the act; creating s. 11.1435, F.S.; requiring that
    8         persons addressing a legislative committee take an
    9         oath or affirmation of truthfulness; providing
   10         exceptions; requiring that a member of the legislative
   11         committee administer the oath or affirmation;
   12         providing criminal penalties for certain false
   13         statements before a legislative committee; authorizing
   14         the use of a signed appearance form in lieu of an oral
   15         oath or affirmation; prescribing conditions related to
   16         the use of such form; providing penalties for making a
   17         false statement after signing such form; providing an
   18         effective date.
   20  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   22         Section 1. This act may be cited as the “Truth in
   23  Government Act.”
   24         Section 2. Section 11.143, Florida Statutes, is amended to
   25  read:
   26         11.143 Standing or select committees; powers.—
   27         (1) Each standing or select committee, or a subcommittee
   28  thereof, may:
   29         (a)is authorized to Invite public officials and employees
   30  and private individuals to appear before the committee for the
   31  purpose of submitting information to it.
   32         (b)Each such committee is authorized to Maintain a
   33  continuous review of the work of the state agencies concerned
   34  with its subject area and the performance of the functions of
   35  government within each such subject area and for this purpose to
   36  request reports from time to time, in such form as the committee
   37  designates, concerning the operation of any state agency and
   38  presenting any proposal or recommendation such agency may have
   39  with regard to existing laws or proposed legislation in its
   40  subject area.
   41         (2) In order to carry out its duties, each such committee
   42  has is empowered with the right and authority to inspect and
   43  investigate the books, records, papers, documents, data,
   44  operation, and physical plant of any public agency in this
   45  state, including any confidential information.
   46         (3)(a) In order to carry out its duties, each such
   47  committee, whenever required, may issue subpoena and other
   48  necessary process to compel the attendance of witnesses before
   49  such committee, and the chair thereof shall issue the process on
   50  behalf of the committee, in accordance with the rules of the
   51  respective house. The chair or any other member of such
   52  committee may administer all oaths and affirmations in the
   53  manner prescribed by law to witnesses who appear before the
   54  committee for the purpose of testifying in any matter concerning
   55  which the committee desires evidence.
   56         (b) Each such committee, whenever required, may also compel
   57  by subpoena duces tecum the production of any books, letters, or
   58  other documentary evidence, including any confidential
   59  information, it desires to examine in reference to any matter
   60  before it.
   61         (c) Either house during the session may punish by fine or
   62  imprisonment any person not a member who has been guilty of
   63  disorderly or contemptuous conduct in its presence or of a
   64  refusal to obey its lawful summons, but such imprisonment must
   65  not extend beyond the final adjournment of the session.
   66         (d) The sheriffs in the several counties or a duly
   67  constituted agent of a Florida legislative committee 18 years of
   68  age or older shall make such service and execute all process or
   69  orders when required by such committees. Sheriffs shall be paid
   70  as provided for in s. 30.231.
   71         (4)(a)Whoever willfully affirms or swears falsely in
   72  regard to any material matter or thing before any such committee
   73  is guilty of false swearing, which constitutes a felony of the
   74  second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083,
   75  or s. 775.084.
   76         (b) If a witness fails to respond to the lawful subpoena of
   77  any such committee at a time when the Legislature is not in
   78  session or, having responded, fails to answer all lawful
   79  inquiries or to turn over evidence that has been subpoenaed,
   80  such committee may file a complaint before any circuit court of
   81  the state setting up such failure on the part of the witness. On
   82  the filing of such complaint, the court shall take jurisdiction
   83  of the witness and the subject matter of the complaint and shall
   84  direct the witness to respond to all lawful questions and to
   85  produce all documentary evidence in the possession of the
   86  witness which is lawfully demanded. The failure of a witness to
   87  comply with such order of the court constitutes a direct and
   88  criminal contempt of court, and the court shall punish the
   89  witness accordingly.
   90         (5) All witnesses summoned before any such committee shall
   91  receive reimbursement for travel expenses and per diem at the
   92  rates provided in s. 112.061. However, the fact that such
   93  reimbursement is not tendered at the time the subpoena is served
   94  does not excuse the witness from appearing as directed therein.
   95         Section 3. Section 11.1435, Florida Statutes, is created to
   96  read:
   97         11.1435Oath or affirmation; penalty.—
   98         (1)(a)Any person who addresses a standing or select
   99  committee, or a subcommittee thereof, shall first declare that
  100  he or she will speak truthfully by taking an oath or affirmation
  101  in substantially the following form: “Do you swear or affirm
  102  that the information you are about to share will be the truth,
  103  the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?” The person’s answer
  104  must be noted in the record.
  105         (b)Paragraph (a) does not apply to:
  106         1.A member of the Legislature in his or her official
  107  capacity or an employee of the Legislature in his or her
  108  capacity as an employee; however, the member or employee is
  109  subject to discipline by the presiding officer of the applicable
  110  house of the Legislature for making a false statement that he or
  111  she does not believe to be true.
  112         2.A child, if the chair of the committee determines the
  113  child understands the duty to tell the truth or the duty not to
  114  lie.
  116  Notwithstanding the exceptions prescribed in this paragraph, a
  117  standing or select committee, or any subcommittee thereof, may,
  118  if deemed necessary, require any person who addresses the
  119  committee to take an oath or affirmation of truthfulness as
  120  provided in this section, subject to the penalties provided in
  121  subsection (2).
  122         (c)The chair or any other member of the committee shall
  123  administer the oath or affirmation required under this section.
  124         (2)(a)Except as provided in paragraph (b), whoever makes a
  125  false statement that he or she does not believe to be true,
  126  under the oath or affirmation required by this section in regard
  127  to any material matter, commits a felony of the third degree,
  128  punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
  129         (b)Whoever is compelled by subpoena as a witness before a
  130  committee under s. 11.143(3) and who makes a false statement
  131  that he or she does not believe to be true, under the oath or
  132  affirmation required by this section in regard to any material
  133  matter, commits a felony of the second degree, punishable as
  134  provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
  135         (3)In lieu of the oral oath or affirmation required by
  136  this section, the Senate or the House of Representatives may by
  137  the rules of each respective house require any person, as
  138  prescribed in subsection (1), who addresses a committee to
  139  complete and sign an appearance form. The form must be signed
  140  before the person addresses the committee. Signing the form
  141  constitutes a written affirmation to speak the truth, the whole
  142  truth, and nothing but the truth, and subjects the person to the
  143  penalties as provided in this section. The form must include a
  144  statement notifying the person that signing the form constitutes
  145  an affirmation and notifying the person of the penalty
  146  provisions.
  147         Section 4. This act shall take effect July 1, 2020.