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Public records exemptions for county and city attorneys and clerk employees bills hit the governor’s desk

Senior Editor Top Stories

Equitable Distribution of Marital Assets and Liabilities measure also awaits the governor's signature

Capitol buildingCity and county attorneys and their deputies, and Florida court clerks and “clerk personnel,” would have additional protections against death threats and stalking under bipartisan bills that lawmakers have forwarded to Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Also forwarded was HB 521, “Equitable Distribution of Marital Assets and Liabilities,” a Family Law Section priority.

The Legislature has forwarded HB 103 by Rep. Kristen Arrington, D-Kissimmee, and HB 983 by Democratic Rep. Dan Daley, a Coral Springs prosecutor, and HB 521, by Republican Rep. Traci Koster, a Tampa marital and family law attorney.

DeSantis has until June 14 to sign the measures, veto them, or allow them to become law without his signature.

HB 983 would create a public records exemption for the personal identifying information of county attorneys, city attorneys and their deputies. HB 103 would do the same for court clerks, deputy clerks and “clerk personnel.”

More specifically, the bills would exempt from public records laws information that would reveal addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, and photographs.

They would also shield the names, home addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth and places of employment of respective spouses and children, and the names and locations of the schools and daycares their children attend.

Daley said he was astonished to learn that court clerks and their deputies don’t receive the same public records exemptions that protect judges, and just recently, judicial assistants.

“When I became a prosecutor a few months ago, I noticed the clerks don’t have the same protections as judicial assistants,” Daley told a legislative committee. “This protects folks who are just going to work every day and doing their jobs.”

The Senate voted 39-1 to approve HB 103 on March 4. The Senate voted 40-0 to grant HB 983 final legislative approval the following day. If enacted, both measures would take effect July 1, 2024.

HB 521 is designed to make divorce proceedings more uniform.

“HB 521 recognizes the complexities surrounding divorce proceedings and addresses some conflicting caselaw regarding the distribution of assets and liabilities between the parties,” Koster told her House colleagues in March.

Crafted with the help of the Family Law Section, the measure would, among other things, provide guidelines for determining the valuation of a “closely held business” between the spouses, and specify that a gift of real property between the spouses be made in writing.

HB 521 cleared the Senate, 38-0, on February 28. It would also take effect July 1, 2024.

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