Editorial: Reject Florida secrecy bill

A bill that would allow lawmakers to meet in secret is quickly making its way through the Florida Legislature. Citizens must be aware of this bill and let their state legislators know this is an abomination and violation of taxpayers’ rights to know how their money is being spent. The Legislature is abusing its power by approving such a proposal and needs to be stopped quickly.

The proposed bill would allow city, county and state officials to hold closed meetings to discuss and negotiate company proposals and the spending of taxpayer dollars. According to the St. Petersburg Times, Rep. Bob Wallace and other committee members say the bill makes allowances for citizens to learn about the meetings. Wallace says the minutes of closed-door meetings would be made public after the process. However, what neither Wallace nor any other committee members has specified is when those documents would be made available. Being able to view a document that explains why the Florida Legislature approved buying new equipment or any other items two years after the fact doesn’t help taxpayers whatsoever.

The Legislature seems to be doing what the federal government is – doing their best to garner more power and keep their actions hidden from public scrutiny. However, some groups, such as the First Amendment Foundation, are working hard to uncover such injustices and expose them to the public. Floridians have a right to know when their tax money is being spent and on exactly what. They also have the right to attend the meetings for those processes and voice their opinions about the decisions. This bill would eliminate those rights.

Floridians should be concerned about their rights and should let the Legislature know today what they think about this bill. E-mail or write your city, county and state representatives and make sure your rights remain intact.