HB 273- Relating to Public Records
On Tuesday, February 2nd, HB 273, relating to Public Records, by Rep. Halsey Beshears (R-Monticello) was heard on the Senate floor and substituted for its Senate companion bill, SB 390, by Senator Wilton Simpson (R-Trilby). HB 273 passed by a vote of 34 yeas to 1 nay.
This bill addresses the procedure for obtaining records relating to a public agency’s contract for services with a private contractor. As it stands today, the Florida Constitution provides every person the right to inspect or copy any public record made or received in connection with the official business of any public body, officer, or employee of the state, or of persons acting on their behalf.
However, the issue of who the party responsible for providing these public records remains. If this bill becomes law, requests for records relating to a public agency’s contract for services must be made to the contracting agency. An agency who receives a request for records possessed by a contractor must then attempt to obtain the records from the contractor.
HB 273 also provides that if a civil action is filed to compel production of public records, the court must assess and award against the contractor the reasonable costs of enforcement, including attorney fees, if the court determines that a contractor unlawfully refused to comply with the public records request within a reasonable time, and the plaintiff provided written notice of the public records request to the public agency and the contractor. The notice must be sent at least 8 business days before the plaintiff files the civil action. The bill specifies that a contractor who complies with the public records request within 8 business days after the notice is sent is not liable for the reasonable costs of enforcement.
HB 273 will now go to the desk of Governor Scott to be signed into law.
AIF supports legislation that reduces frivolous law suits against Florida businesses.