Magazine article The Quill

Florida Approves Secret Committee Meetings

Magazine article The Quill

Florida Approves Secret Committee Meetings

Article excerpt

Florida senators will now be able to meet secretly to discuss state security, terrorism and espionage. The controversial measure passed by a voice vote on Oct. 25, meaning no record was kept of how each member voted. It became effective immediately.

The Senate president now will have the unprecedented power to let members meet in secret.

"Hopefully, we'll never have to invoke it," Senate President John McKay told The Miami Herald.

Under the rules, the Senate president could close meetings called to discuss 11 security, espionage, sabotage, attack and other acts of terrorism after talking to police, public health or security `authorities."

Despite efforts to soften the rules by requiring the disclosure of committee member votes, access advocates are still worried that the decision chips away at the state constitution, which calls for keeping all aspects of lawmaking public.

The Senate did not approve an earlier version that would have kept committee votes secret and sealed the records for up to five years. …

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