Fla. House passes 'right to speak' bill

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A bill being sent to Gov. Rick Scott seeks to make sure that Floridians have the right to be heard - and not just seen - at local government and state agency meetings.

The measure (SB 50) won final approval from the Florida House on a 113-2 vote Wednesday. The bill won 40-0 passage in the Senate earlier in the session.

The legislation is a response to appeals-court rulings on Florida's open-government "sunshine law." Those decisions interpreted the law as requiring officials to meet in public but not requiring them to give citizens a voice.

The bill allows governments to set time limits on public comment and exempts some meetings of an emergency or purely ceremonial nature. It also allows enforcement by court orders known as injunctions.

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