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SB80-Changes to Public Records Act

ENROLLED 2017 Legislature CS for CS for SB 80, 1st Engrossed 201780er

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An act relating to public records; amending s. 119.12, 2 F.S.; revising the circumstances under which a court 3 must assess and award the reasonable costs of 4 enforcement against an agency in a civil action to 5 enforce ch. 119, F.S.; specifying circumstances under 6 which a complainant is not required to provide certain 7 written notice of a public records request; requiring 8 a court to determine whether a complainant requested 9 to inspect or copy a public record or participated in 10 a civil action for an improper purpose; prohibiting 11 the assessment and award of the reasonable costs of 12 enforcement to a complainant who acted with an 13 improper purpose; requiring the court to assess and 14 award reasonable costs against the complainant if he 15 or she is found to have acted with an improper 16 purpose; defining the term “improper purpose”; 17 providing for construction and applicability; 18 providing an effective date. 19

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Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 21

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Section 1. Section 119.12, Florida Statutes, is amended to 23 read: 24

119.12 Attorney Attorney’s fees.— 25

(1) If a civil action is filed against an agency to enforce 26 the provisions of this chapter and if the court determines that 27 such agency unlawfully refused to permit a public record to be 28 inspected or copied, the court shall assess and award, against 29 ENROLLED 2017 Legislature CS for CS for SB 80, 1st Engrossed 201780er

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the agency responsible, the reasonable costs of enforcement, 30 including reasonable attorney attorneys’ fees, against the 31 responsible agency if the court determines that: 32

(a) The agency unlawfully refused to permit a public record 33 to be inspected or copied; and 34

(b) The complainant provided written notice identifying the 35 public record request to the agency’s custodian of public 36 records at least 5 business days before filing the civil action, 37 except as provided under subsection (2). The notice period 38 begins on the day the written notice of the request is received 39 by the custodian of public records, excluding Saturday, Sunday, 40 and legal holidays, and runs until 5 business days have elapsed. 41

(2) The complainant is not required to provide written 42 notice of the public record request to the agency’s custodian of 43 public records as provided in paragraph (1)(b) if the agency 44 does not prominently post the contact information for the 45 agency’s custodian of public records in the agency’s primary 46 administrative building in which public records are routinely 47 created, sent, received, maintained, and requested and on the 48 agency’s website, if the agency has a website. 49

(3) The court shall determine whether the complainant 50 requested to inspect or copy a public record or participated in 51 the civil action for an improper purpose. If the court 52 determines there was an improper purpose, the court may not 53 assess and award the reasonable costs of enforcement, including 54 reasonable attorney fees, to the complainant, and shall assess 55 and award against the complainant and to the agency the 56 reasonable costs, including reasonable attorney fees, incurred 57 by the agency in responding to the civil action. For purposes of 58 ENROLLED 2017 Legislature CS for CS for SB 80, 1st Engrossed 201780er

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this subsection, the term “improper purpose” means a request to 59 inspect or copy a public record or to participate in the civil 60 action primarily to cause a violation of this chapter or for a 61 frivolous purpose. 62

(4) This section does not create a private right of action 63 authorizing the award of monetary damages for a person who 64 brings an action to enforce the provisions of this chapter. 65 Payments by the responsible agency may include only the 66 reasonable costs of enforcement, including reasonable attorney 67 fees, directly attributable to a civil action brought to enforce 68 the provisions of this chapter. 69

Section 2. This act applies only to public records requests 70 made on or after the effective date of this act. 71

Section 3. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law. 72

 

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