Senate presidential search exemption advances but it doesn’t have House’s reduced timeframe
Jeff Brandes says Florida does not learn from previous failures in property insurance.

The House revision upset some lawmakers and education lobbyists.

Legislation that would provide a public records exemption on information about applicants seeking a state university or college presidential position is headed to its final committee stop after clearing the Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee.

However, the Senate bill looks a little different than the House version, which is on to its second committee after garnering approval at its first stop Tuesday.

The measure (SB 520), filed by St. Petersburg Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes, cleared its second committee with one amendment that provided the bill be effective upon becoming law. But as it approaches its third committee, the Senate bill does not have a key amendment tacked on in a House meeting Tuesday — an alteration that changed guidelines in the bill.

As the Senate version stands, the bill would create a public records exemption applicable to the pool of public university and college presidential applicants, though information on the selected finalists would be made available. The legislation provides a 21-day period for information on the finalists to be made public in order for the university or college to receive community feedback.

But that timeframe was reduced in the House version via an amendment Tuesday. The amendment, put forth by bill sponsor Sam Garrison, reduced the timeframe to 14 days.

The revision upset some lawmakers and education lobbyists, who argued it further restrained Florida’s Sunshine Law. Some lawmakers who originally supported the legislation voted against the amended bill.

It’s possible the Senate version will be amended in the coming weeks. But with negative pushback and eight years of trying to get the legislation passed, senators could stand pat.

This year, the bill also is facing unique criticism from opponents drawing from Gov. Ron DeSantis’ State of the State Address, in which the Governor described the state as “freedom’s vanguard.”

However, proponents of the legislation say it is necessary in order to improve the pool of applicants to state university and college presidential positions.

Because the bill would create a public records exemption, it requires a two-thirds vote of each legislative chamber to become law.

Brandes has sponsored the bill for several years now, and this will be the proposal’s eighth time trying to cross the finish line in Florida’s Legislature.

Kelly Hayes

Kelly Hayes studied journalism and political science at the University of Florida. Kelly was born and raised in Tampa Bay. A recent graduate, she enjoys government and legal reporting. She has experience covering the Florida Legislature as well as local government, and is a proud Alligator alum. You can reach Kelly at [email protected].


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