August 09, 2020
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HB 1973

1
A bill to be entitled
2An act relating to public records exemptions; creating s.
3106.0706, F.S.; creating an exemption from public records
4requirements for all user identifications and passwords
5held by the Department of State pursuant to s. 106.0705,
6F.S.; creating an exemption from public records
7requirements for records, reports, and files stored in the
8electronic filing system pursuant to s. 106.0705, F.S.;
9providing for future review and repeal of the exemptions;
10providing a statement of public necessity; providing a
11contingent effective date.
12
13Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
14
15     Section 1.  Section 106.0706, Florida Statutes, is created
16to read:
17     106.0706  Electronic filing of campaign treasurer's
18reports; confidentiality of information and draft reports.--All
19user identifications and passwords held by the Department of
20State pursuant to s. 106.0705 are confidential and exempt from
21s. 119.07(1) and s. 24(a), Art. I of the State Constitution. All
22records, reports, and files stored in the electronic filing
23system pursuant to s. 106.0705 are exempt from s. 119.07(1) and
24s. 24(a), Art. I of the State Constitution until such time as
25the report has been submitted as a filed report. This section is
26subject to the Open Government Sunset Review Act of 1995 in
27accordance with s. 119.15 and shall stand repealed on October 2,
282009, unless reviewed and saved from repeal through reenactment
29by the Legislature.
30     Section 2.  (1)  The Legislature finds that it is a public
31necessity to exempt from public records requirements all user
32identifications and passwords held by the Department of State
33pursuant to s. 106.0705, Florida Statutes. The public records
34exemption is necessary to ensure accountability for the filing
35of false or inaccurate information. Under current law, certain
36individuals, typically the candidate and campaign treasurer or
37the chair of a committee or group and its treasurer, must
38certify and bear responsibility for the correctness of each
39campaign finance report filed with the Division of Elections
40under pain of personal criminal prosecution or administrative
41fine. The law uses the physical signatures of such individuals
42on the paper campaign finance reports as evidence of attestation
43to the veracity of the report. Electronic reporting eliminates
44the evidentiary advantages of hard-copy signatures by persons
45submitting reports, so the provisions of law creating the
46electronic filing system provide for the issuance of secure
47sign-on information to the individuals designated and provides
48that such individuals are responsible for all filing using such
49sign-on credentials unless they have notified the division that
50their credentials have been compromised. Without a public
51records exemption for such user information, there would be no
52accountability for campaign finance reporting.
53     (2)  In addition, the public records exemption is necessary
54to protect against the unwarranted submission of false or
55erroneous campaign finance data. Limiting access to the
56electronic filing system will prevent unauthorized users from
57changing or submitting false or inaccurate information that
58could be damaging to the reporting individual or group and
59result in charges being brought against the individuals
60accountable by statute for the veracity of the information.
61     (3)  The Legislature also finds that it is a public
62necessity to exempt from public records requirements all
63records, reports, and files created from information entered
64into the electronic filing system by individuals and groups
65subject to electronic campaign finance reporting requirements
66until such time as a final report is due pursuant to law. It is
67anticipated that best practices would encourage periodic and
68timely updates to the draft report throughout the covered
69reporting period, and this exemption would allow reporting
70individuals and groups adequate time to enter all the
71information. Campaign finance reports can contain hundreds or
72even thousands of individual entries for items such as dates,
73names, amounts of contributions, and expenditures. It is simply
74not technologically or practically feasible to require all this
75information to be manually input on the designated statutory due
76date. The public records exemption will allow reporting
77individuals and groups to update the information in their draft
78reports throughout the reporting period and subject the reports
79to internal audits to check for errors prior to submission. The
80updated report for the entire reporting period can then be
81submitted as required by law.
82     (4)  The public records exemption is also essential because
83it protects reporting individuals and groups from exposing their
84campaign finance strategies to opponents who could use the
85reported information to their advantage. For example, a large
86inflow of contributions to a candidate's campaign during a
87reporting period could indicate that the candidate is
88positioning himself or herself for a large media buy to run
89political advertisements. An opponent of the candidate could
90frustrate this intention by purchasing desirable media slots
91first.
92     (5)  Finally, this public records exemption will actually
93accelerate the public's access to this information compared with
94current law, which allows for the filing of paper reports by
95mail on the designated due date and results in both mailing and
96data entry delays in processing the information to the Internet.
97Under current law, in many cases, crucial campaign finance
98information contained in reports due on the 4th day before an
99election is never disclosed to the public until after the
100election is over. The electronic campaign filing system, with
101the public records exemption in place, will eliminate these
102delays and provide this crucial data to the electorate before
103election day.
104     Section 3.  This act shall take effect January 1, 2005, if
105House Bill 1971 or similar legislation creating section
106106.0705, Florida Statutes, to provide for electronic filing of
107campaign treasurer's reports, is adopted in the same legislative
108session or an extension thereof and becomes law.


CODING: Words stricken are deletions; words underlined are additions.
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