Bill seeks to stop agencies for suing over records requests

By – Associated Press – Wednesday, March 13, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – A Florida lawmaker says there’s a trend of government agencies using the court system to block the public’s constitutionally protected access to public records.

A bill that would prohibit the practice received its first approval Wednesday by the House Oversight, Transparency and Public Management Subcommittee – though most committee Democrats opposed it.

Republican Rep. Ray Rodrigues said his bill is a response to some government agencies going to court after receiving public records requests. If an agency takes civil action and judge sides with the requestor, the agency doesn’t have to reimburse the requestor’s legal fees.

Rodrigues said that causes a chilling effect that could deter people from pursuing records they’re entitled to.

The open government watchdog group First Amendment Foundation supports the legislation.

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