Florida Senate - 2021                                    SB 7066
       By the Committee on Regulated Industries
       580-03277-21                                          20217066__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to public records and public meetings;
    3         amending s. 286.0113, F.S.; exempting discussions of
    4         certain confidential information by the Public Service
    5         Commission during certain hearings from public
    6         meetings requirements; requiring such hearings to be
    7         recorded by a certified court reporter; providing that
    8         only redacted transcripts are subject to public
    9         records requirements; requiring certain parties to
   10         request, within a specified timeframe, that portions
   11         of the transcript remain exempt from disclosure;
   12         providing that failure to timely file a redacted
   13         version of the transcript and a request for
   14         confidentiality constitutes a waiver of a claim of
   15         confidentiality to that portion of the transcript;
   16         providing requirements for the redacted transcripts;
   17         providing for future legislative review and repeal of
   18         the exemptions; amending s. 350.01, F.S.; exempting
   19         certain closed hearings or portions of hearings of the
   20         Public Service Commission from the requirement that
   21         each hearing of the commission be streamed live and
   22         made available on the commission’s website; providing
   23         a statement of public necessity; providing an
   24         effective date.
   26  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   28         Section 1. Present subsection (4) of section 286.0113,
   29  Florida Statutes, is redesignated as subsection (5), and a new
   30  subsection (4) is added to that section, to read:
   31         286.0113 General exemptions from public meetings.—
   32         (4)(a) Any hearing or portion of a hearing before the
   33  Public Service Commission conducted pursuant to ss. 120.569 and
   34  120.57 which the commission finds cannot be fully and fairly
   35  conducted without necessarily revealing information that has
   36  been made confidential by prior order of the commission, or for
   37  which a request for confidentiality has been filed pursuant to
   38  s. 366.093, s. 367.156, or s. 368.108 or a claim of proprietary
   39  confidential business information has been filed pursuant to s.
   40  364.183, is exempt from s. 286.011 and s. 24(b), Art. I of the
   41  State Constitution. The commission must make any such finding no
   42  later than 20 days before the scheduled hearing.
   43         (b)The entire hearing, including any confidential portion,
   44  must be recorded by a certified court reporter. Only the
   45  redacted version of the transcript prepared as set forth in
   46  paragraph (d) is subject to disclosure under s. 119.07(1) and s.
   47  24(a), Art. I of the State Constitution, in accordance with s.
   48  364.183, s. 366.093, s. 367.156, or s. 368.108, as applicable.
   49         (c)Within 21 days after filing the transcript, or a
   50  shorter timeframe if required by the commission, each party
   51  asserting that one or more portions of the transcript contains
   52  confidential information that should remain exempt from
   53  disclosure under s. 119.07(1) and s. 24(a), Art. I of the State
   54  Constitution shall provide to the commission clerk redacted
   55  versions of that information and an accompanying request for
   56  confidential treatment. Failure to timely file such redacted
   57  versions and request constitutes a waiver of any continued claim
   58  of confidentiality to only that portion of the transcript.
   59         (d)The commission clerk shall prepare a transcript
   60  redacting all information requested by a party pursuant to
   61  paragraph (c) and for which confidentiality orders have been
   62  entered. The redacted transcript must be made part of the public
   63  record at the conclusion of the underlying hearing. The
   64  information redacted in the transcript shall remain exempt from
   65  disclosure under s. 119.07(1) and s. 24(a), Art. I of the State
   66  Constitution unless a court of competent jurisdiction, after an
   67  in camera review of the transcript, determines that any
   68  information redacted does not comply with applicable
   69  confidentiality orders. In the event of such a judicial
   70  determination, only the portion of the recording or transcript
   71  which the court determines reveals nonexempt data and
   72  information may be disclosed to the public.
   73         (e)This subsection is subject to the Open Government
   74  Sunset Review Act in accordance with s. 119.15 and shall stand
   75  repealed on October 2, 2026, unless reviewed and saved from
   76  repeal through reenactment by the Legislature.
   77         Section 2. Subsection (8) of section 350.01, Florida
   78  Statutes, is amended to read:
   79         350.01 Florida Public Service Commission; terms of
   80  commissioners; vacancies; election and duties of chair; quorum;
   81  proceedings.—
   82         (8) Each meeting, including each internal affairs meeting,
   83  workshop, hearing, or other proceeding attended by two or more
   84  commissioners, and each such meeting, workshop, hearing, or
   85  other proceeding where a decision that concerns the rights or
   86  obligations of any person is made, must shall be streamed live
   87  on the Internet, and a recorded copy of the meeting, workshop,
   88  hearing, or proceeding must shall be made available on the
   89  commission’s website. This subsection does not apply to any
   90  hearing or portion of a hearing before the Public Service
   91  Commission conducted pursuant to ss. 120.569 and 120.57 which
   92  has been closed to the public pursuant to s. 286.0113(4) and s.
   93  24(b), Art. 1 of the State Constitution.
   94         Section 3. (1)The Legislature finds that it is a public
   95  necessity that those portions of hearings of the Public Service
   96  Commission conducted pursuant to ss. 120.569 and 120.57, Florida
   97  Statutes, at which proprietary confidential business information
   98  under ss. 364.183, 366.093, 367.156, and 368.108, Florida
   99  Statutes, is discussed be made exempt from public meetings
  100  requirements. As used in this section, the term “proprietary
  101  confidential business information” has the same meaning as in s.
  102  364.183, s. 366.093, s. 367.156, or s. 368.108, Florida
  103  Statutes, and includes information that has been made
  104  confidential by prior order of the commission and is necessary
  105  for the commission to discuss in order to evaluate it and make a
  106  determination in the public interest.
  107         (2)The Legislature further finds that the commission and
  108  parties to commission hearings are constrained from asking
  109  questions about essential proprietary confidential business
  110  information important to the outcome of a case. Pursuant to its
  111  legislative directive under chapters 364, 366, 367, and 368,
  112  Florida Statutes, the commission is the tribunal charged with
  113  establishing just, fair, and compensatory rates for utilities or
  114  companies under its jurisdiction. As such, the commission has
  115  the authority to adjudicate all matters within its jurisdiction,
  116  and its administrative hearings are conducted in compliance with
  117  chapter 120, Florida Statutes. The fact-finding role of the
  118  commission is integral to its decisionmaking, and all commission
  119  decisions must be supported by competent, substantial record
  120  evidence. Accordingly, under certain circumstances, the
  121  commission must be able to fully evaluate and discuss
  122  proprietary confidential business information in order to make a
  123  determination in the public interest. In addition, parties must
  124  be allowed to conduct full and fair cross-examination when
  125  testimony is taken or documents are made a part of the record
  126  pursuant to s. 120.569(2)(j), Florida Statutes.
  127         (3)The Legislature further finds that the public
  128  disclosure of proprietary confidential business information,
  129  through discussion of such information in a formal
  130  administrative hearing or portion thereof conducted in the
  131  sunshine pursuant to ss. 120.569 and 120.57, Florida Statutes,
  132  would significantly harm utilities by impairing the ability of
  133  utilities regulated by the Public Service Commission to fairly
  134  negotiate with third parties and compete for goods and services
  135  within the marketplace. Such disclosure would also harm the
  136  businesses with which such utilities contract by disclosing such
  137  businesses’ proprietary or confidential information and make it
  138  less likely for such businesses to do business with regulated
  139  utilities in the future. Additionally, the Legislature finds
  140  that the public disclosure of proprietary confidential business
  141  information would cause harm to the company’s ratepayers or
  142  business operations, resulting in higher utility prices or lower
  143  quality of service.
  144         (4)The Legislature further finds that the public and
  145  private harm in the public disclosure of the information made
  146  exempt by this act outweighs any public benefit derived from the
  147  disclosure of such information.
  148         (5)Therefore, the Legislature finds that it is a public
  149  necessity to make those portions of hearings of the Florida
  150  Public Service Commission at which proprietary confidential
  151  business information is discussed exempt from public meetings
  152  requirements and the commission’s livestreaming requirements,
  153  and to make the recordings and transcripts thereof exempt from
  154  public records requirements.
  155         Section 4. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.