The Florida Senate
(This document is based on the provisions contained in the legislation as of the latest date listed below.)
Prepared By: The Professional Staff of the Committee on Rules
BILL: SB 7006
INTRODUCER: Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee
SUBJECT: OGSR/Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network
DATE: March 7, 2023 REVISED:
Limones-Borja McVaney GO Submitted as Comm. Bill/Fav
1. Limones-Borja Twogood RC Favorable
I. Summary:
SB 7006 saves from repeal the current public records exemption which makes information
relating to the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (FirstNet) held by an agency
confidential and exempt from public inspection and copying requirements. FirstNet is a
nationwide broadband network dedicated to emergency responders and the public safety
Unless saved from repeal by the Legislature, the exemption for information relating to FirstNet is
scheduled to repeal on October 2, 2023. This bill removes the scheduled repeal to continue the
confidential and exempt status of information held by an agency that relates to FirstNet.
The bill is not expected to impact state and local revenues and expenditures.
The bill takes effect October 1, 2023.
II. Present Situation:
Public Records Law
The State Constitution provides that the public has the right to inspect or copy records made or
received in connection with official governmental business.1 This applies to the official business
of any public body, officer, or employee of the state, including all three branches of state
government, local governmental entities, and any person who acts on behalf of the government.2
Chapter 119, F.S., known as the Public Records Act, constitutes the main body of public records
laws.3 The Public Records Act states that:
FLA. CONST., art. I, s. 24(a).
Public records laws are found throughout the Florida Statutes.
BILL: SB 7006 Page 2
[i]t is the policy of this state that all state, county, and municipal records are open
for personal inspection and copying by any person. Providing access to public
records is a duty of each agency.4
The Public Records Act typically contains general exemptions that apply across agencies.
Agency- or program-specific exemptions often are placed in the substantive statutes that
relate to that particular agency or program.
The Public Records Act does not apply to legislative or judicial records.5 Legislative records are
public pursuant to s. 11.0431, F.S. Public records exemptions for the Legislature are codified
primarily in s. 11.0431(2)-(3), F.S., and adopted in the rules of each house of the legislature.
Section 119.011(12), F.S., defines “public records” to include:
[a]ll documents, papers, letters, maps, books, tapes, photographs, films,
sound recordings, data processing software, or other material, regardless of
the physical form, characteristics, or means of transmission, made or
received pursuant to law or ordinance or in connections with the transaction
of official business by any agency.
The Florida Supreme Court has interpreted this definition to encompass all materials made or
received by an agency in connection with official business which are used to “perpetuate,
communicate, or formalize knowledge of some type.”6
The Florida Statutes specify conditions under which public access to governmental records must
be provided. The Public Records Act guarantees every person’s right to inspect and copy any
state or local government public record at any reasonable time, under reasonable conditions, and
under supervision by the custodian of the public record.7 A violation of the Public Records Act
may result in civil or criminal liability.8
Only the Legislature may create an exemption to public records requirements.9 An exemption
must be created by general law and must specifically state the public necessity which justifies the
exemption.10 Further, the exemption must be no broader than necessary to accomplish the stated
purpose of the law. A bill that enacts an exemption may not contain other substantive
provisions11 and must pass by a two-thirds vote of the members present and voting in each house
of the Legislature.12
Section 119.01(1), F.S.
Locke v. Hawkes, 595 So. 2d 32, 34 (Fla. 1992); see also Times Pub. Co. v. Ake, 660 So. 2d 255 (Fla. 1995).
Shevin v. Byron, Harless, Schaffer, Reid and Assoc. Inc., 379 So. 2d 633, 640 (Fla. 1980).
Section 119.07(1)(a), F.S.
Section 119.10, F.S. Public records laws are found throughout the Florida Statutes, as are the penalties for violations of
those laws.
FLA CONST., art. I, s. 24(c).
The bill may, however, contain multiple exemptions that relate to one subject.
FLA. CONST., art. I, s. 24(c)
BILL: SB 7006 Page 3
When creating a public records exemption, the Legislature may provide that a record is “exempt”
or “confidential and exempt.” There is a difference between records the Legislature has
determined to be exempt from the Public Records Act and those which the Legislature has
determined to be exempt from the Public Records Act and confidential.13 Records designated as
“confidential and exempt” are not subject to inspection by the public and may only be released
under the circumstances defined by statute.14 Records designated as “exempt” may be released at
the discretion of the records custodian under certain circumstances.15
Open Government Sunset Review Act
The provisions of s. 119.15, F.S., known as the Open Government Sunset Review Act (the Act),
prescribe a legislative review process for newly created or substantially amended public records
or open meetings exemptions,16 with specified exceptions.17 The Act requires the repeal of such
exemption on October 2nd of the fifth year after creation or substantial amendment; in order to
save an exemption from repeal, the Legislature must reenact the exemption or repeal the sunset
date.18 In practice, many exemptions are continued by repealing the sunset date, rather than
reenacting the exemption.
The Act provides that a public records or open meetings exemption may be created or
maintained only if it serves an identifiable public purpose and is no broader than is necessary.19
An exemption serves an identifiable purpose if the Legislature finds that the purpose of the
exemption outweighs open government policy and cannot be accomplished without the
exemption and it meets one of the following purposes:
 It allows the state or its political subdivision to effectively and efficiently administer a
program, and administration would be significantly impaired without the exemption;20
 The release of sensitive personal information would be defamatory or jeopardize an
individual’s safety. If this public purpose is cited as the basis of an exemption, however, only
personal identifying information is exempt;21 or
 It protects trade or business secrets.22
The Act also requires specified questions to be considered during the review process.23 In
examining an exemption, the Act directs the Legislature to question the purpose and necessity of
reenacting the exemption.
WFTV, Inc. v. The Sch. Bd. of Seminole County, 874 So. 2d 48, 53 (Fla. 5th DCA 2004).
Williams v. City of Minneola, 575 So. 2d 683 (Fla. 5th DCA 1991).
Section 119.15, F.S. Section 119.15(4)(b), F.S., provides that an exemption is considered to be substantially amended if it
is expanded to include more records or information or to include meetings.
Section 119.15(2)(a) and (b), F.S., provides that exemptions required by federal law or applicable solely to the Legislature
or the State Court System are not subject to the Open Government Sunset Review Act.
Section 119.15(3), F.S.
Section 119.15(6)(b), F.S.
Section 119.15(6)(b)1., F.S.
Section 119.15(6)(b)2., F.S.
Section 119.15(6)(b)3., F.S.
Section 119.15(6)(a), F.S. The specific questions are:
 What specific records or meetings are affected by the exemption?
 Whom does the exemption uniquely affect, as opposed to the general public?
BILL: SB 7006 Page 4
If, in reenacting an exemption or repealing the sunset date, the exemption is expanded, then a
public necessity statement and a two-thirds vote for passage are required.24 If the exemption is
reenacted or saved from repeal without substantive changes or if the exemption is narrowed, then
a public necessity statement and a two-thirds vote for passage are not required. If the Legislature
allows an exemption to expire, the previously exempt records will remain exempt unless
otherwise provided by law.25
First Responder Network Authority
Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Congress created the National Commission on Terrorist
Attacks Upon the United States (Commission). The Commission was tasked with preparing a full
and complete account of the circumstances surrounding the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks,
along with recommendations designed to guard against future attacks.26 One of the
Commission’s recommendations to prevent the incidents of communication disruption that
occurred between first responders during the terrorist attacks was to “support pending legislation
which provides for the expedited and increased assignment of radio spectrum for public safety
The federal Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 201228 created the First Responder
Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) as an independent authority within the Department of
Commerce to oversee the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (FirstNet). FirstNet is
designed to provide emergency responders with a nationwide, high-speed, broadband network
dedicated to public safety.29 FirstNet commenced operations in 2018.
FirstNet’s public-private partnership with AT&T provides first responders with immediate
access to mission-critical capabilities over the FirstNet network.30 This includes priority and
preemption features31 that give first responders their own ‘fast lane’ on the public safety network
to communicate and share information during emergencies, large events or other situations when
 What is the identifiable public purpose or goal of the exemption?
 Can the information contained in the records or discussed in the meeting be readily obtained by alternative means?
If so, how?
 Is the record or meeting protected by another exemption?
 Are there multiple exemptions for the same type of record or meeting that it would be appropriate to merge?
FLA. CONST. art. I, s. 24(c).
Section 119.15(7), F.S.
National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, About the Commission, available at (last visited January 20, 2023).
9/11 Commission, The 9/11 Commission Report, pgs. 396-397, (2004), available at (last visited January 20, 2023).
Pub. Law No. 112-96, H.R. 3630, 112th Cong. (2012).
FirstNet Authority, About Us, available at: (last visited December 5, 2022).
FirstNet Authority, History, available at: (last visited December 5, 2022).
FirstNet Authority, Experience FirstNet: How priority and preemption help public safety connect when they need it most,
available at:
connect-when-they (last visited December 5, 2022).
BILL: SB 7006 Page 5
commercial networks could become congested. FirstNet is the only broadband network to
provide preemption for public safety.32
FirstNet’s enabling federal legislation33 requires each Governor to determine whether to:
 Opt-in, by choosing to participate in the deployment of the nationwide, interoperable network
as proposed by the FirstNet State Plan, or
 Opt-out, by choosing to deploy, maintain, operate, and improve a Radio Access Network that
interoperates with the FirstNet network.34
Public safety agencies who opt-in to FirstNet are eligible to contract with FirstNet, to provide
first responders immediate access to AT&T’s commercial network on a priority basis, and
preemptive access within the year. Additionally, AT&T will install the FirstNet Radio Access
Network at no cost to opt-in jurisdictions. 35
FirstNet in Florida
All fifty states, five U.S. territories, and Washington D.C., have opted to participate in FirstNet.
Each state has an individualized state plan detailing how FirstNet will be deployed in its state.36
FirstNet has worked with Florida public safety officials since 2014 to ensure the design of the
Florida FirstNet met all of Florida’s specific needs.37 In 2017, Governor Scott elected to opt-in to
the nationwide broadband network as proposed by the FirstNet State Plan.38
Open Government Sunset Review of the Public Records Exemption for Information
Relating to FirstNet
In 2018 the Legislature created the public records exemption for information held by an agency
that relates to FirstNet if release of such information would reveal:
 The design, development, construction, deployment, and operation of network facilities;
 Network coverage, including geographical maps indicating actual or proposed locations of
network infrastructure or facilities;
 The features, functions, and capabilities of network infrastructure and facilities;
 The features, functions, and capabilities of network services provided to first responders and
other network users;
AT&T, FirstNet Launches Ruthless Preemption for First Responders, available at: (last visited December 5, 2022).
47 U.S.C. s. 1442(e)(2).
IWCE, FirstNet hits 50%’opt-in’ threshold as Indiana makes announcement, available at: (last visited
December 5, 2022).
FirstNet, The Network,,deployed%20in%20their%20st
ate%2Fterritory (last visited December 7, 2022).
FirstNet, Florida, (last visited December 7, 2022).
Letter from Rick Scott, Governor, State of Florida, to Mike Poth, Chief Executive Officer, First Responder Network
Authority (December 28, 2017) available at: (last visited
December 7, 2022).
BILL: SB 7006 Page 6
 The design, features, functions, and capabilities of network devices provided to first
responders and other network users; or
 Security, including cybersecurity, of the design, construction, and operation of the network
and associated services and products.
The public necessity statement, as required by the State Constitution, specified that it is a public
necessity to protect such information because disclosure of this information would adversely
affect the business interests and network security of these providers and its networks.
Additionally, the public necessity statement provides that without the exemption, competitors
could appropriate the information in such a way as to impede full and fair competition, therefore
disadvantaging consumers of communications services as they relate to FirstNet.
The staff of the Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee and the House
Government Operations Subcommittee surveyed multiple Florida sheriff offices and police
departments to ascertain whether the public records exemption in s. 119.071(3)(d), F.S., remains
necessary. Staff reviewed the agencies’ responses and a majority of those agencies recommend
that the Legislature reenact the public records exemption without any changes.
III. Effect of Proposed Changes:
Section 1 amends s. 119.071(3)(d), F.S., to save from repeal the publ