Is the movie being screened just for state legislators in any way a violation of Florida’s Sunshine Law? Florida has strict laws governing public records and public meetings. Any meeting of lawmakers must be properly advertised and must be open to the public. So, does having some lawmakers attend a movie that directly addresses two bills before them run afoul of any laws? The News-Press asks around, and apparently no one has any heartburn over the issue.
The invitation to “Expelled” is just for legislators and their spouses, along with legislative aides. The press and public is excluded.
House Minority Leader Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach, asked House general counsel Jeremiah Hawkes if that’s legal — since Florida law requires open meetings whenever two or more lawmakers meet to discuss pending business. Hawkes replied that, as long as they just watch the film and don’t discuss the issue or arrange any future votes, it’s technically legal.
John Stemberger, head of the Florida Family Policy Council, was asked if it’s a smart political tactic to have a closed meeting. He replied that it’s all right.
“It’s not a closed meeting — we invited the whole Legislature,” said Stemberger.
“There’s no business being discussed. They’re just watching a movie.”