The Florida Legislature enacted laws affecting local governments during the 2016 Session. One of them relates to public records requests to local government contractors. Local government and business law attorneys should ensure their clients follow these new statutory requirements.
Chapter 2016-20, Laws of Florida, amends Section 119.0701, Fla. Stat., by requiring public records requests related to contract for services with a public agency to be made directly to the public agency instead of the contractor. If the public agency does not possess the records, it must immediately notify the contractor of the request. The contractor must then provide the records to the public agency or allow the records to be inspected or copied within a reasonable time. A contractor who fails to provide the requested information within a reasonable time may be subject to penalties under Section 119.10, Fla. Stat.
Pursuant to the new law, a public agency must include a statement in contracts for services informing the contractor of the contact information of the public agency’s record custodian. The statement must also instruct the contractor to contact the record custodian with any questions regarding the contractor’s duty to provide public records. The following language, in at least 14-point boldfaced type, should be included in contracts for services entered into or amended on or after July 1, 2016:
“IF THE CONTRACTOR HAS QUESTIONS REGARDING THE APPLICATION OF CHAPTER 119, FLORIDA STATUTES, TO THE CONTRACTOR’S DUTY TO PROVIDE PUBLIC RECORDS RELATING TO THIS CONTRACT, CONTACT THE CUSTODIAN OF PUBLIC RECORDS AT … (telephone number, e-mail address, and mailing address).”
Contracts for services must also address whether the contractor will retain the public records or transfer them to the public agency after the completion of the contract. If the contractor keeps the public records, it must follow all requirements for retaining such records, including nondisclosure of confidential or exempt records.
Last year, the Florida Legislature created Section 189.069, Fla. Stat., (Chapter No. 2014-22, Laws of Florida), requiring special districts to maintain an official website. Under the provision, the website must include the following information by October 1, 2015:
If you have special district clients, don’t forget to tell them about these new requirements. To help ensure all required content is posted, use the Special District Website Requirement Self Checklist provided by the Special District Accountability Program. And don’t forget to provide the website address of your special district clients to the Program.
It’s that time of the year. The 2015 Florida Legislative Session starts today and will last until May 1. Over 1460 bills have been filed. Only a few will make it to the end of the session and become law. Below are bills of interest to attorneys and legal professionals. Keep an eye on them as they may impact your practice areas if they pass in a few months. For your convenience, I’ll provide a status update at the end of the legislative session.
HB 47 State Minimum Wage
HB 47 increases state minimum wage from $6.15 to $10.10. It provides that an employer may not pay an employee at a rate less than the state minimum wage. It deletes the requirement that only individuals entitled to receive federal minimum wage are eligible to receive state minimum wage. (Identical Bill: SB 114)
CS/SB 102 Digital Assets
Known as the “Florida Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act,” this bill authorizes a personal representative to have access to specified digital assets and electronic communication of a decedent and provides compliance requirements to receive and collect digital assets. It also give a similar authorization to guardians, agents and trustees. (Similar Bill: HB 313)
CS/HB 113 Local Government Construction Preferences
This bill prohibits local ordinances and regulations from restricting competition for award of construction services based upon the location of the vendor’s office or place of business. It requires state colleges, school districts and other political subdivisions to make specified disclosures in competitive solicitation documents. (Similar Bill: SB 778)
SB 126 Social Media Privacy
SB 126 prohibits an employer from requesting or requiring access to a social media account of an employee or prospective employee. It also prohibits an employer from taking retaliatory personnel action for an employee’s refusal to allow access to his social media account. However, it provides that an employer is not prohibited from seeking access to social media accounts used primarily for the employer’s business purposes.
SB 150 Student Loans
This bill would require the Justice Administrative Commission and the Office of the Attorney General to implement a student loan assistance program to assist a career assistant state attorney, assistant public defender, assistant attorney general, or assistant statewide prosecutor in the repayment of eligible student loans. (Similar Bill: HB 45)
SB 462 Family Law
This bill provides that a collaborative law process commences when the parties enter into a collaborative law participation agreement. It prohibits a tribunal from ordering a party to participate in a collaborative law process over the party’s objection. SB 462 provides for confidentiality of communications made during the collaborative law process. (Similar law: HB 503)
HB 611 Residential Properties
HB 611 provides requirements relating to the request for an estoppel certificate by a unit or parcel owner including a 10-day timeframe to deliver the certificate. It also provides that an association waives any claim against a person or entity who would have relied in good faith upon the estoppel certificate if the association failed to deliver the certificate. It revises fee and supplemental fee requirements. (Identical Bill: SB 736)
As you can see I can’t cover all bills that may affect your practice areas. If you want to look and find bills, you can do a word or statute amended search under the Bills tab on the Florida House of Representatives website.
I know it’s only November. The Florida legislative session will not start until March. But if you want to submit a local bill, you have to get it ready now.
Local Bill Procedure
If you are not familiar with the legislative process, you probably wonder what is a local bill. A local bill is a proposed law that only affects a specific geographical area as opposed to a general bill that affects the state in its entirety. Typically, public agencies such as special districts and municipalities request local bills. Before introducing a local bill to the Florida legislature, an agency’s request must be heard by its county legislative delegation. Agencies must submit the following documents to their delegation before the scheduled hearing:
Once heard and approved by a majority vote of the delegation, the requesting agencies must publish a Notice of Legislation in a local newspaper at least 30 days prior to the introduction of the bill to the Florida legislature. They must also find a bill sponsor.
Local Bill Deadlines
Don’t forget to follow all your county legislative delegation deadlines. The delegations don’t make any exceptions! In Palm Beach County, the deadlines are as follows:
For more information about local bills, visit or call your county legislative delegation office.
* Picture by Ebyabe (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0
(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Every year the Florida Legislature passes bills that may affect the practice of law in Florida. 2014 is no exception. Below is a summary of those bills:
On another note…
In last week’s blog post, we wrote about the importance of protecting confidential information. The legal community is not the only one concerned with this subject matter. The Florida Legislature recently passed SB 1524, an act related to security of confidential personal information. This new law requires businesses and governmental entities to take reasonable measures to protect and secure data containing personal information in electronic form. If a breach takes place, the law also provides for notification to the Department of Legal Affairs and to the individuals under certain circumstances. Unfortunately, SB 1524 does not define or explain what reasonable measures an entity should take to protect the data.
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I have been working with local governments for many years now. As part of my work, I have followed Florida’s legislative sessions and tracked bills. To do so, I had to know the legislative process. This is one of the first things we learn when going to paralegal or law school. However, it is often quickly forgotten. So here is a recap on how an idea becomes a law in Florida.
Florida’s legislative session starts on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in March and last 60 days. The first step in creating a law is to have your idea sponsored by a Senate or House representative. The representative then contacts Bill Drafting Services to request a bill to be drafted. The representative may give specific and detailed instructions on how to draft the bill or may just provide a general idea. The assigned bill drafter works with him until final draft of the bill is approved by the representative. When approved, the idea receives a bill number (odd number for House and even number for Senate) and is filed. For this example, we will use a House bill.
Before being voted on by the House, the bill is read 3 times. The 1st reading is by publication of the bill number, its sponsor and a short description of the bill in the House Journal. The Speaker will also refer the bill to one or more committees or subcommittees in the House. The committees and subcommittees will study the effect of the bill if enacted. They can amend, accept or reject the bill.
Once amended or accepted, the bill is sent to the House. The 2nd reading takes place when a bill is introduced and read on the Special Order Calendar where it is explained, questions are answered and amendments are considered. The bill is then taken up on 3rd reading on a subsequent legislative day. This is the final reading of the bill before being voted on by the House. If the bill does not receive a favorable vote, it “dies” on the floor.
After the bill is passed by the House, it is sent to the Senate for voting. The Senate takes the bill through a similar process and returns it to the House. If the bill passes both houses, it is enrolled and sent to the Governor for his approval. If the Legislature is still in session, the Governor has 7 days to sign the bill. If the session ended, the Governor has 15 days to sign it. The Governor may take one of the following 3 steps: sign the bill, allow it to become law without his signature or veto it. If the Governor vetoes the bill, the Legislature may override his veto by a 2/3 vote during the next session. This summarizes the legislative process in Florida.
If you would like to have more details on this topic, you can visit the Florida House of Representatives’ website or the Senate’s website.
In a future blog post, we will review some of the recently enacted bills that may impact Florida attorneys.
Disclaimer: The content on this website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. Your Paralegal Help Desk's blogger is not an attorney and cannot give legal advice. If you have a legal issue, you should immediately seek the advice of a licensed attorney in your state.