Florida’s House Judiciary Committee was originally scheduled to hear debate and take public participation about the absurd and obscene changes to Florida’s foreclosure laws. The cynic (or the realist) finds it quite disturbing that this bill was removed from the committee agenda after an outpouring of public protest and hundreds of voters made plans to travel to Tallahassee to voice their concerns.
I appreciate the suggestion that the bill might have been removed for legitimate scheduling reasons, but when hundreds of voters travel in buses all night long, hoping for an opportunity to address their elected officials, I believe the honorable thing to do is allow the voices to be heard. You know, the whole, “Of the People” thing.
WELL SIT DOWN FOLKS, HOLD ONTO YOUR HATS. LOOK AT WHAT THEY’VE ADDED IN ITS PLACE…..A BILL THAT IS SO EXTREME AND OBSCENE THAT WORDS JUST DON’T REALLY DO JUSTICE…….CHECK OUT THIS NOTICE FROM THE FLORIDA FIRST AMENDMENT FOUNDATION:
An old friend of mine once told me that when working with the Legislature, I should never be surprised ““ I could be shocked, amazed, stunned, even appalled, but I should never be surprised.
Well, my friend never saw this ““ a proposed committee bill by the House Judiciary Committee, PCB JDC 12-03 that grants legislators and legislative staff an ABSOLUTE PRIVILEGE in any civil action, judicial administrative proceeding or executive branch administrative proceeding against compelled testimony or the COMPELLED PRODUCTION OF ANY DOCUMENT OR RECORD in connection with any action taken or function performed in a legislative capacity.
AN ABSOLUTE PRIVILEGE in civil court against compelled production of any DOCUMENT OR RECORD related to any action taken or function performed by a current or former legislator or legislative staff member in a legislative capacity.
What, you might ask, about our constitutional right of access to legislative records?
You make a public record request for email correspondence between the Speaker, for example, or the Senate President, and the staff director of a key committee. Or a lobbyist. Or another legislator. Your request is denied. Your remedy? HOLD YOUR BREATH BECAUSE IF THIS BILL PASSES, THERE IS NO REMEDY. That’s right ““ there is NO REMEDY because our legislators and their staff would have an ABSOLUTE PRIVILEGE and could not be forced even by a court of law to produce the public records you requested.
But wait, you say.
What about the language in the proposed bill that says the ABSOLUTE PRIVILEGE ” shall not affect or alter the right of access to public records which are” subject to disclosure under our constitutional right of access articulated in Article I, section 24(a).
Best I can tell, this means that we have a right to ask our legislators to please give us the records but we can’t go to civil court and compel the release of the documents requested.
An absolute privilege protecting our legislators from our constitutional right
to access public records relating to our government and our money?
The PCB bill even protects legislators after they’ve died. Uh huh. If a legislator dies, the absolute privilege remains in perpetuity. And the ABSOLUTE PRIVILEGE applies to current and former staff members too, and ONLY A LEGISLATOR can waive the privilege.
Sorry old friend, I have to admit I’m surprised.
Not to mention shocked, amazed, stunned, even appalled.
What are they thinking?
And because this is a proposed committee bill, there’s no one to bring to task for this wrong-headed piece of legislation. A copy of the PCB is attached. The House Judiciary Committee meets Thursday, February 16 at 11:30 AM in Room 404 of the House Office Building. Here’s a link to the Committee’s web page: