Bush vetoes public records bill
The governor says requiring "prompt" reply to records requests would unduly burden state and local agencies.
By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published June 21, 2006
TALLAHASSEE - Gov. Jeb Bush vetoed a bill that would have required prompt replies to public records requests while signing 37 measures into law Tuesday.
The governor wrote in his veto message that requiring officials to "promptly" reply to public records requests could require hiring additional staff, which the Legislature did not provide any money for, and it would be too disruptive.
"I am not comfortable requiring Florida's state and local agencies to set aside their primary missions to comply with a new, but undefined time standard for responding to public records requests," he wrote.
Barbara Petersen, president of Florida's First Amendment Foundation, which supported the bill, said it would do none of the things Bush worried about. It would not have required officials to produce records immediately, just that they promptly tell citizens if or when their records requests will be honored, she said.
"It happens all the time where they just don't respond," Petersen said.
Some of the measures that Bush signed:
- Renew a public records exemption for autopsy photos, originally enacted after the death of race car driver Dale Earnhardt.
- Offer free tuition at community colleges and state universities to veterans who have received certain combat medals.
- Indefinitely extend free automobile license tags for members of the Florida National Guard.
- Increase penalties for protests at military funerals, a response to demonstrations by a Kansas church group that claims U.S. soldiers are being killed because God is punishing America for tolerating homosexuality.
- Let families ineligible for the state-subsidized KidCare program pay a full premium for coverage if they cannot get private health insurance. Children ages 1 through 4 will be able to participate.
- Add criminal penalties of one to five years behind bars to an existing law that bans unsolicited commercial e-mail, known as "spam." It also allows lawsuits against spammers who go "phishing" by trying to obtain personal identifying information.
- Make key lime pie the official Florida pie.
[Last modified June 21, 2006, 02:20:47]
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